In Delaware, the field of speech-language pathology is growing. In fact, in 2015, the the Delaware Department of Labor reported that the SLP job market is projected to increase by 24% during the ten-year period leading up to 2024, providing more opportunities for licensed SLPs in the state than ever before.
Your decision to pursue higher education in speech-language pathology is something that will be rewarded, even beyond the high salaried positions that await and the satisfaction that comes with helping patients overcome speech disorders. In an unprecedented move to increase the number of licensed SLPs in the state by making education more accessible, the Delaware Department of Education has begun offering an SLP incentive program for graduate students to help cover the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, and other direct education expenses.
In 2015, the University of Delaware opened a Speech-Language-Hearing clinic for the community, located on the university’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research Campus. Here students gain hands-on clinical experience working with the public, while at the same time filling a vital need for SLP services in the community. According to Dr. Aquiles Iglesias, the director of the clinic, there is a shortage of SLPs throughout the whole country, but especially in Delaware, and the clinic was founded in the hopes of addressing the needs of the state’s underserved communities while better preparing graduate students for success.
The Delaware Speech-Language-Hearing Association (DSHA) supports the professional community in the state, holding annual conventions and monthly events that allow the state’s licensed SLPs and students to network with each other and explore new therapeutic techniques and educational technologies. These DSHA events have involved the exploration of such topics as intervention for individuals with behavior challenges and severe communication disorders, and the dynamic assessment and multi-tiered systems of support for language.
As a licensed SLP, you may also choose to work with specialized groups such as autistic children, children or adults who have suffered brain injuries, or those with hearing impairments. The DSHA also holds events from time to time that will focus on these specialty areas.
To become eligible for your SLP license through the State of Delaware Board of Speech Pathologists, Audiologists, and Hearing Aid Dispensers, follow the steps below:
Step 1. Complete a Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
The Delaware State Board requires candidates for SLP licensure to earn the nationally recognized CCC-SLP (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology) certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Qualifying for the credential requires a master’s degree with an emphasis in speech-language pathology, communication disorders, or speech-language and hearing science from a program that has been accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) or other accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.
As of 2016, there are no CAA-accredited programs with campus locations in Delaware, however, most aspiring SLPs elect to study through online programs as opposed to attending school out of state. CAA accredits several online programs throughout the country that have garnered the respect of employers and the professional community.
Students of these programs complete traditional coursework online and complete clinical hours in hospitals and clinics in their area.
Admissions and Undergraduate Requirements
Graduate level SLP programs are designed to build on the competencies developed during an undergraduate program in communicative sciences and disorders. However, even with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated major, you would be considered for admission after completing certain prerequisite courses that are fundamental to the field:
- Phonetics and Phonology
- Speech Science
- Speech-Language Development
- Clinical Principles for Management of CSD
- Intro to Audiology
Most graduate programs would give you an opportunity to complete foundational courses through the school before transitioning to graduate-level coursework.
To apply to a graduate program, you’ll usually be required to submit a resume, GRE scores, and at least two letters of recommendation from academic references. SLP graduate programs are selective and most will require you to have a GPA of 3.5 or above in undergraduate coursework. Required GRE scores vary, but most admissions departments will look for no less than 153 in the verbal section and 144 in the quantitative section.
Graduate Courses and Clinical Practicum
Along with classroom study, the curriculum will also involve supervised clinical experiences through a practicum that will put you in direct contact with patients. In Delaware, you’ll be required to complete at least 400 clock hours of practicum work to be eligible for licensure and the CCC-SLP credential.
Core courses included in your graduate program would typically include:
- Foundations of Clinical Practice
- Language Disorders in Children
- Neurogenic Disorders
- Phonological Disorders
- Fluency Disorders
- Management of Neurogenic Disorders
- Voice and Resonance Disorders
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication
- Communication in Autism Disorders
- Aural Rehabilitation
Electives can include:
- Methods of Communication
- Dysphasia Management
- Craniofacial Anomalies
- Neurogenic Speech Disorders
- Autism Spectrum Communication Disorders
- Voices and Listeners
- Communicative Science and Disorders Research
- Natural Language Approaches
The ultimate goal of an SLP graduate program is to produce a confident, knowledgeable practitioner who has a firm understanding of the biological processes of communication as well as the clinical process involved in providing speech therapy. Through classroom study and clinical experiences, you’ll gain experience with diverse patient populations with different communicative disorders, preparing you to serve the needs of virtually any patient.
Step 2. Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
In Delaware, you must apply for a temporary license before beginning your clinical fellowship. The temporary license will expire after one year.
You will need to fill out the application for temporary licensure and have it notarized before sending it to:
Board of Speech-Language Pathologists, Audiologists, and Hearing Aid Dispensers
861 Silver Lake Blvd, Suite 203
Dover, Delaware 19904-2467
Along with your application, you’ll also need to include:
- A $65 temporary license fee
- An official graduate transcript
- A letter from your clinical practicum supervisor showing that you have completed at least 400 clock hours of supervised clinical experiences during your practicum
- A clinical fellowship plan form signed by your clinical supervisor (included in the application)
You may not begin your clinical fellowship until your temporary license is issued. It will usually take about two weeks for your application to be processed and your license to be issued.
The Delaware Board requires SLPs to complete a nine-month long supervised clinical fellowship under your temporary license after completing a graduate program before being issued an unrestricted license to practice.
If you choose a part-time 18-month clinical fellowship, you will need to get permission from the board to extend your temporary license.
During your fellowship you will be supervised in at least 36 defined activities, including 18 one-hour on-site observations and 18 other monitored activities. These activities could include assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients; working with the patients’ families to devise treatment plans; and completing administrative work relating to patients. You will also complete feedback sessions with your supervisor throughout the clinical fellowship.
You will need to document proof of completion of a clinical fellowship to apply for the CCC-SLP credential.
If you’re not sure where to get started looking for a clinical fellowship, you may browse opportunities here.
Step 3. Pass the National Examination and Earn the CCC-SLP Credential
Next, you must pass The National Speech-Language Pathology Exam to earn your Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to be eligible for licensure in Delaware.
You can register for the exam online through Praxis.
When registering online for the national exam, you’ll be required to furnish an official graduate transcript sent directly from your university and provide proof of completion of a clinical fellowship.
You must score a 162 or higher on the national exam to pass out of a possible score of 200.
The 132 questions on the exam fall into the following categories:
- Foundation and professional practice—44 questions
- Planning, implementation, and evaluation of treatment—44 questions
- Screening, assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis—44 questions
The questions are meant to test knowledge in the areas of speech and production, voice and resonance, motor speech, receptive and expressive language, social and cognitive aspects of communication, augmentative and alternative communication, hearing, and feeding and swallowing.
In Delaware, you may take the exam at a Praxis test center in one of the following cities:
After passing the national exam, you will need to apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). The CCC-SLP credential is awarded through ASHA and is required to gain your full, unrestricted SLP license in Delaware. You’ll need passing national exam scores and .
Within six weeks, provided you meet all requirements, you should receive your CCC-SLP credential.
Step 4. Apply for Licensing through the Delaware Board of Speech Pathologists, Audiologists, and Hearing Aid Dispensers
After receiving your exam scores you’ll be eligible to become licensed as an SLP the Delaware Board of Speech Pathologists, Audiologists, and Hearing Aid Dispensers.
You’ll need to fill out the application form and submit it to the board with a $125 processing fee, an official graduate transcript, and proof of ASHA CCC-SLP certification.
Once licensed, you may begin your career. Three traditional ways to begin your career are listed below:
Join the Clinic that Provided RPE
You may choose to pursue employment with the clinic that provided your required professional experience. There are many benefits to this route, including the ability to maintain the relationships you’ve built with patients and staff.
Many clinics prefer to hire SLPs who have completed fellowships with them; some even advertise clinical fellowships as stepping stones to a full-time SLP position. If you’re interested in this route, contact your clinical fellowship supervisor for more information on job opportunities.
Start an Independent Practice or Partnership
After receiving your CCC-SLP credential and full SLP license in Delaware, you are able to start your own independent practice and take on clients.
Starting your own practice can be very rewarding. You may choose this route if you feel that you already have clients that you’d like to work with independently, or if you want to focus on a specific patient population.
Pursue Job Openings
You might also want to pursue employment with another healthcare provider in Delaware. There are hundreds of clinics, hospitals, rehab centers, and private practices in the state who need SLPs to fill vital roles. You may also consider working in public schools, private schools, or university programs.
Some of the top employers in Delaware include:
- Benchmark Therapies
- HCR Manor Care
- Nurses and Kids
- Encore Rehabilitation Services
- Heritage Healthcare
- Encore Rehabilitation
- Cadia Rehabilitation
- Francis Hospital
- Pediatric Therapeutic Services
- Back to Basics Learning Dynamics
- Boost Learning
- Beebe Healthcare
Once you’ve become certified and licensed, you may also choose to seek specialty certifications through ASHA.
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Courses
In order to keep your SLP license current, you’ll need to renew it every two years. Several weeks before the expiration date of your license, a renewal notice will be mailed to the address you have on record, which will explain how to access the online renewal application.
You’ll also be required to pay a renewal fee and state that you’ve complete 30 approved continuing education hours during the two-year licensing period.
If you need to change your address, you can do so online to be sure to receive the renewal notice.
During the two-year cycle, you’ll need to complete 30 continuing education hours that are approved by the Delaware board. Approved courses may be accessed here, and may include courses, seminars, or online lectures.
You will not be required to furnish proof of the CEs each renewal period, but licensees will be randomly selected each renewal period for CE audits, so you should be sure to keep documentation of all CE courses completed.