How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

A speech-language pathologist is a great career choice if you want to change lives and make a difference in people’s lives on a day-to-day basis. It is a rewarding career as you get to see firsthand the changes that come through the work that you are able to perform with your patients. 


You are helping others in performing better in the way that they communicate, no matter how big or how small of a difference you choose to make. It does require certain steps in order to become a successful speech-language pathologist, which you can see in the list that follows.

1. Attend Undergrad

The first step in becoming a speech-language pathologist is to attend undergrad in communications, though you should look for a degree plan that also covers communication disorders. This will give you the starting information that you need to know about the various communication disorders that exist and the diseases and diagnoses that actually lead to communication problems. 


This will aid you in preparing for a path of success when you are ready to enter into a graduate school where you will eventually receive your SLPA license. Do not worry though if you did not receive your undergrad degree in communications, as you can still pursue a path towards your goal.

2. Head to Grad School

Whether you completed your undergrad degree in communications or something else, the next step is to start grad school. Make sure that the program you choose is CAA-accredited so that you can receive your licensure as aforementioned. 


You will likely start a degree path towards a Master’s in communicative sciences or communication sciences with a specialization in speech-language pathology. You will receive a multitude of hands-on experiences, some of which are real-life, clinical experiences, and you will have to perform various research products to help you in learning more about the field.

3. Pass the Exam

In order to become an official, practicing speech-language pathologist, you will have to pass a national exam. The exam is a Praxis II that is called “Subject Assessment in Speech-Language Pathology” that has been created by the Educational Testing Services, which you must register. You can take your exam after you graduate or even when you are completing your experiences through your fellowship, which is similar to a residency. On the exam will be questions about diagnosis and screening, planning and implementing treatment, and professional practices that you should follow.

4. Obtain Your Licensure

After your exam has been completed, you will need to have licensure, which is now required in all 50 states and in Washington D.C. You will have to submit an application to whoever the authority is over certain licensure which includes your exam scores, your transcripts, your background check, and any fee that is associated with the process.


 You may even have to pass a legal exam for certain states in addition to the national exam in order to be approved. There are additional courses that may require completion as well such as a course on HIV/Aids, but after, you will have continuing education as well.

5. Receive Professional Certification

The final step in becoming a speech-language pathologist is to pursue your professional certification. Some states even require that you have this certification, which in many cases is the CCC-SLP. 


There are many benefits to taking the certification course even if your state does not require it, including advancement opportunities, credibility, and the ability to receive more of a salary. There are educational requirements in order for you to keep this certification as well as you will require professional development every three years.

Final Thoughts

Speech-language pathology is one of the most valuable career paths that you can follow when you want to change lives. You have the opportunity to help others in their communication abilities so that they can live socially and feel free. 


Make sure that you understand all education requirements before pursuing this career, as there are graduate school and exam requirements that you have to pursue and pass. You also should consider any certifications and professional organizations that are available to you so that you can become the most successful in your field if possible.


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