How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist in Arizona

In addition to online graduate programs in communicative sciences and disorders now widely available, schools in Arizona’s university system are making important contributions to the field, expanding the options available to students interested in both clinical practice and research.

NYU Steinhardt's online MS in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Speech@NYU, offers a comprehensive curriculum that combines research and evidence-based clinical practice in a flexible online format. Speech@NYU prepares students across the country to become creative, collaborative, and effective speech-language pathologists. Students of this program will gain the experience needed to provide care to diverse populations across the life span. Request information.

Arizona State University holds an annual Speech and Hearing Science Research Day to share what the university’s researchers have been working on in the past year. One professor with the university’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Karen Gallagher, has conducted research of military-service related conditions and possible treatments that would benefit veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in combat.

Arizona is home to many innovative SLPs who have contributed to advancements in the field through research, building awareness, and developing new methods of treatment. To showcase their work, the Arizona Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ArSHA) holds an annual convention where SLPs have shared developments related to split brain research, social learning strategies, assistive technology, behavioral challenges, embedded coaching, student health outreach, and health literacy for the homeless.

Follow the steps below to become a licensed SLP through the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS):

Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
Pass the SLP Praxis Examination 
Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

 


 

Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology

In order to apply to a graduate program in speech-language pathology, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders. If your bachelor’s degree is in a different field, you’ll need to complete required prerequisites that are fundamental to the practice of SLP.

Standard prerequisite courses include:

  • Physiology of Communication
  • Phonetics and Phonemics
  • Introduction to Audiology
  • Speech and Language Development
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing Mechanisms
  • Science of Language

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, be sure to prepare for your graduate program by securing excellent academic references, a high undergraduate GPA, and an excellent GRE scores. SLP graduate programs tend to be competitive, so you’ll need to present an excellent academic portfolio in order to be admitted to a program, even if you do have a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders.

As of 2016, ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology accredits four universities with graduate SLP programs in Arizona. You may choose to enroll in a traditional program or pursue a wider variety of ASHA accredited online programs that are hosted by universities nationwide.

Core courses include:

  • Phonological Development & Disorders
  • Voice & Resonance Assessment & Treatment
  • Neurobiology
  • Fluency: Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication for SLPs
  • Motor-Speech Disorders
  • Aphasia and Right Hemisphere Damage
  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Clinical and Educational Methods in SLP
  • Swallowing Disorders: Evaluation and Treatment
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in SLP

Electives may include:

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Therapeutic Procedures in Speech Pathology: Voice Disorders
  • Craniofacial Anomalies
  • Voices and Listeners
  • Interdisciplinary Case-Based Dysphagia Management
  • Natural Language
  • Communicative Science and Disorders Research
  • Neurogenic Speech Disorders
  • Language and Communication in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Your graduate program will also include a clinical practicum. The practicum must be a minimum of 400 clock hours of supervised clinical experience.

Twenty-five hours of your practicum must be spent in clinical observation, and 375 hours must be spent in direct client/patient contact.

Your practicum must include experience with client/patient populations across the life span and from culturally/linguistically diverse backgrounds. It also must include experience with client/patient populations with various types and severities of communication and/or related disorders, differences, and disabilities.

 


 

Step 2. Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program

The AZDHS requires that you complete a 36-week clinical fellowship before becoming licensed. You may seek a sponsor or available clinical fellowships here.

The Arizona board requires that you complete 300 clock hours that include at least 20 clock hours in audiology as well as clock hours as indicated for the following categories:

Evaluation of:

  • Speech and language disorders in children (40 hours)
  • Speech and language disorders in adults (40 hours)

Treatment of:

  • Speech and language disorders in children (40 hours)
  • Speech and language disorders in adults (40 hours)

 


 

Step 3. Pass the SLP Praxis Exam

At any time during your clinical practicum, you will need to register for and pass the Speech-Language Pathology Exam offered through Praxis.

When registering online, you’ll be instructed to send:

  • An official graduate transcript from your SLP program
  • Proof of completion of a clinical fellowship

The required minimum score on the exam is 162.

You may choose to prepare with practice questions or review additional details in the information bulletin.

The test covers foundational practice, assessment and diagnosis, and implementing and evaluating treatment of patients. In addition, you’ll be tested on your knowledge of speech and hearing processes, voice and resonance disorders, variances of language, social and cognitive aspects of communication, and feeding and swallowing.

In Arizona, you may take the exam at a Praxis test center in one of the following cities:

  • Casa Grande
  • Flagstaff
  • Goodyear
  • Phoenix
  • Tempe
  • Tucson
  • Yuma

Optional Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP)

You may elect to pursue the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential once you’ve passed the national exam. Offered through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the CCC-SLP is not required for licensure in Arizona, but is a highly respected credential in the SLP professional community.

You would apply for the CCC-SLP directly through ASHA, providing proof that you completed a graduate program and clinical fellowship and achieved passing scores on the national examination.

 


 

Step 4. Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist

Once you’ve passed the national exam, you’re eligible to apply for licensure through the AZDHS.

SLPs who work in the public school setting must also obtain an Arizona Department of Education Speech-Language Pathologist, Pre-kindergarten-12 Certificate. The Arizona Department of Education certificate may be renewed with completion of 60 clock hours of professional development in the field of speech-language pathology, or professional development in the areas of articulation, voice, fluency, language, low incidence disabilities, curriculum and instruction, professional issues and ethics, or service delivery models.

You can fill out the application here.

To pursue AZDHS licensure, you’ll need to fill out the application and include:

  • The official transcript from your graduate program
  • Proof of completion of a clinical fellowship

As a newly-licensed SLP, you may begin your career in one of three ways:

Join the Clinic that Provided RPE

Many newly-licensed SLPs choose to continue working for the employer who provided their clinical fellowship. This is an ideal situation because you’ll already have built relationships with clients and staff, and clinics feel more comfortable hiring someone with whom they’ve had direct experience.

Some clinics even advertise clinical fellowship-to-full time position opportunities to encourage SLPs to stay on with the clinic. To pursue an opportunity like this, contact your clinical fellowship provider to inquire about job opportunities.

Start an Independent Practice or Partnership

Once licensed as an SLP in Arizona, you’ll be able to start your own independent practice or partnership. Benefits include:

  • Setting your own wage
  • Setting your own schedule
  • Taking on as many patients as you feel comfortable with
  • Pursuing specific patient populations

Pursue Job Openings

If you don’t wish to work under your RPE provider or start your own practice, there are still plenty of options for you in Arizona. From clinics to hospitals to rehab centers, there are hundreds of employers in the state who hire SLPs to treat patients. A few of these employers include:

  • Alliant Personnel Resources
  • ACCEL Therapy
  • Child & Family Resources, Inc.
  • Therapy Management Corporation
  • Reliant Rehabilitation
  • Aegis Therapies
  • Therapy Tree
  • BAYADA Home Health Care
  • Pediatric Speech and Language Specialists
  • E.E.K. Arizona

Depending on your career goals, you may also choose to seek specialty certifications through ASHA. If you want to serve a specific patient population, specialty certifications are a good way to build credibility and become more prepared.

 


 

Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

In order to maintain SLP licensure, speech-language pathologists are required to obtain 30 contact hours of professional development over a 3-year period.

CEUs may be earned through group activities (e.g., workshops, conferences), independent study (e.g., course development, research projects, internships, attendance at educational programs, and self-study (e.g., videotapes, audiotapes, journals), provided that the CEs are gained from ASHA approved providers.

You’ll need to renew your license every three years with a $200 license fee. You can renew online through the Arizona DHS.

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