How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist in Colorado

Speech-language pathologists enjoy the unique rewards that come with a career dedicated to helping diverse patient populations overcome communicative disorders.

As well as having access to online SLP programs that have earned accreditation through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Colorado’s SLP graduate students can also attend one of two in-state SLP graduate programs with campus locations in the state.

As home to accredited SLP programs and a growing professional community, the Colorado Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSLHA) has become highly active, holding an annual conference through which SLPs explore new topics in speech-language pathology. Past conferences have involved the exploration of such topics as treating oropharyngeal dysphagia, the surgical treatment of dysphagia and vocal cord dysfunction, and emerging education technology in speech-language pathology.

Some notable SLPs in the state include Jen Carter, who has specialized in dysphagia treatment; Matthew Clary, who has practiced as a laryngologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and researched airway stenosis, inducible laryngeal obstruction, swallowing disorders and laryngeal sensation; and Marie Jette, who has researched the pathophysiology of laryngeal inflammation.

Another notable SLP in Colorado, Patrick Rydell, founded the Rocky Mountain Autism Center and developed Autism on Call, an online autism spectrum disorder training program. Through the Rocky Mountain Autism Center, hundreds of children with autism receive critical speech therapy services.

If you are interested in working with the autistic population, you will find many other excellent clinics located throughout Colorado, including the Alpine Autism Center, the Spectra Autism Center and Aspire Autism.

Find out how you can earn your speech-language pathologist license through the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Office of Speech-Language Pathology Certification by following these five steps:

Complete an ASHA-Accredited Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology
Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship
Pass the National SLP Examination
Earn Your License and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Colorado
Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education

 


 

Step 1. Complete an ASHA-Accredited Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology

Master’s programs in communicative sciences and disorders generally do not require applicants to hold a degree in closely related major. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated major, you would be allowed to complete foundational courses as part of the graduate program before beginning graduate-level coursework.

Standard prerequisite courses include:

  • Physiology of Communication
  • Phonetics and Phonemics
  • Fundamentals of Audiology
  • Development of Speech and Language
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing Mechanism
  • Language Science

To apply to a graduate program, you’ll need to submit:

  • A resume of your experience
  • A statement of purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation from academic references
  • An official transcript from your undergraduate program
  • GRE scores

Online programs are an ideal option for students seeking an SLP master’s degree. These programs consist of traditional coursework such as problem modules, tests and quizzes online, coupled with clinical practicum hours that would be completed in clinics or hospitals nearby.

In addition to the accredited online programs that are now widely available, the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) also accredits two SLP graduate programs in Colorado.

The graduate program coursework will cover linguistics, psychology, physiology, and physical science.

Core courses typically include:

  • Language Dictation
  • Communication and Neuroscience
  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Language Learning Disabilities
  • Cognitive Disorders
  • Intervention and Appraisal
  • Neurogenic Speech Disorders
  • Advanced Topics in Social Communication
  • Complex Medical Cases
  • Professional Issues in SLP
  • Introductory Diagnostic Procedures
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Disorders of Language & Literacy
  • Assistive Technology for Communications Disorders

Electives may include the following courses:

  • Voice and Resonance Disorders
  • Advanced Diagnostic Procedures
  • Acquired Disorders of Language & Cognition
  • Voices and Listeners
  • Management
  • Approaches to Natural Language
  • Current Research on Communicative Science and Disorders

 


 

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

The Colorado DORA requires that SLP program graduates complete a 36-week (1,260 hours) clinical fellowship before becoming licensed in the state.

Oftentimes, SLP graduates find clinical fellowships through sponsors in their graduate program. You may also look for clinical fellowship opportunities here.

During your clinical fellowship you must accomplish:

  • 36 weeks of full-time experience (or the equivalent part-time experience), for a total of 1260 hours at minimum.
  • Mentoring from an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist
  • Passing score when demonstrating core skills in the final segment of the experience
  • 80% of your fellowship must be spent in direct clinical contact with patients

Upon completion of the mentorship, your mentor will submit the CF Rating and Report Form to ASHA at:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #313
Rockville, Maryland 20850

These mentored activities will include assessing and diagnosing patients, performing administrative work related to clients, and meeting with clients’ family to discuss progress.

At the end of each segment, you will have a performance feedback session with your supervisor.

 


 

Step 3. Pass the National SLP Examination

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Speech-Language Pathology Exam is offered through Praxis, a third party exam administrator.

Once you’ve passed the national exam, you are eligible to apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential through ASHA, though it is NOT a requirement for state licensure in Colorado.

When registering for the national exam, you’ll be required to send an official graduate transcript and provide proof of completion of a clinical fellowship by submitting the speech-language pathology clinical fellowship report and rating form.

The test is scored on a 100-200 point scale, with the required minimum score being 162.

For preparation, you may purchase a Praxis study guide or review the speech-language pathology exam’s study companion.

The test is made up of 132 questions covering the methods of practice, screening, assessment, diagnosis, and evaluation of treatment, among other topics.

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

  • Boulder
  • Colorado Springs
  • Denver
  • Fort Collins
  • Grand Junction
  • Greenwood Village
  • Longmont

 


 

Step 4. Earn Your License and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist

Once you’ve passed the national exam, you’ll be ready to apply for licensure through the Colorado DORA.

You’ll need to submit:

You can mail the application and required documents to the Colorado DORA at:

Division of Professions and Occupations
Office of Licensing—Speech-Language Pathologist
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 802202

Once licensed, you may start your career in one of three ways:

  • Join the Clinic that Provided RPE
  • Start an Independent Practice or Partnership
  • Pursue Job Openings

Join the Clinic that Provided RPE

Clinics prefer to hire SLPs who have worked under their tutelage to gain required professional experience because they already have internal references and knowledge of the clinic’s clients. Contact your clinical fellowship supervisor for more information about job opportunities.

Start an Independent Practice or Partnership

Once licensed, you may also consider starting your own business in order to practice independently.

Some SLPs choose to work under a more experienced SLP for a period of time to gain experience and a work reference. Other SLPs use their clinical fellowship provider as a reference while they get started in a partnership or independent practice.

Pursue Job Openings

You might also wish to work within the Colorado school system or in hospitals or clinics throughout the state.

Some of Colorado’s top SLP employers include:

  • Sava Senior Care
  • Community Partnership for Child Development
  • University of Colorado Health
  • Legacy Healthcare Services
  • Interim Health Care
  • Supplemental Health Care
  • Infinity Rehab
  • Therapy Source
  • Rehab for All
  • Pro Care Therapy
  • Cirrus Medical Staffing
  • Centra Healthcare Solutions
  • Team Select Home Care

 


 

Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education

As a practicing SLP in Colorado, you’ll need to renew your license every year. You can renew it online through the Colorado DORA.

You’ll also need to complete the continuing professional development program each renewal period. The program includes:

  • Participation in a program of continuing professional competency (usually hosted by ASHA)
  • Completion of a reflective self-assessment each renewal period (provided by the continuing professional competency director)
  • The execution of a learning plan based on the self-assessment tool
  • Completion of 10 CE hours by ASHA-approved providers during the renewal period

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