Speech-language pathology (SLP) has proven to be a rewarding field, and through your speech therapy practice, you’ll be able to reach a variety of patients suffering from communication disorders. Whether your passion is working with children, special needs students, or elderly adults, your SLP training will allow you to provide restorative care to these populations.
First, you’ll need to earn your master’s degree in SLP. In addition to numerous online options, Ohio offers ten in-state universities with graduate SLP programs accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). One of the institutions, Cleveland State University, has been ranked as one of the top ten schools in the US for its excellent speech-language pathology graduate program (Graduate Programs.com, 2014).
Graduate programs offer diverse faculty, different focuses, and a variety of opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the field that may include working in the universities’ speech and hearing clinic, serving in local clinics, or studying abroad and bringing speech therapy services to third-world countries. Many universities also offer their students the opportunity to use their skills to give back to the community. For instance, in 2015 graduate SLP students at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio raised money to hold a free-of-charge summer camp for pre-teen students who stutter and want to improve their communication abilities.
Even after studying SLP through a rigorous academic program, SLPs are expected by the Ohio SLP board to continue studying topics in the field and stay on top of new advances that come with changing laws and technology. Connecting with the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (OSLHA) is one easy way to have access to multiple continuing education opportunities. These could include studying current perspectives in telepractice, the caregiver’s perspective across the lifespan, improving time to diagnosis for young children at risk to ASD, how to move pediatric patients to adult practice, functional dementia management, and how community-based speech and hearing centers can be a benefit to your practice.
You’ll be able to earn your SLP license through the Ohio Board of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology by following the guide below:
Step 1. Earn a Master’s Degree from an ASHA-Accredited Program
Your first step towards becoming licensed as an SLP is to earn a master’s degree from an accredited program. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) accredits SLP programs in the US.
The ASHA accredits many online options throughout the states, and ten in-state programs in Ohio.
Because of the rigorous nature of these programs, you’ll need to present excellent credentials to be accepted. These usually include an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, GRE scores in the 30th percentile, and academic references.
If don’t have an undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology, you’ll still be eligible to apply to most programs. However, you’ll need to complete prerequisites before beginning graduate coursework. These could include:
- Science of Language
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech
- Early Intervention for Young Patients
- Clinical & Diagnostic Procedures in SLP
Core coursework might include the following topics:
- Language Assessment & Intervention in Early Childhood
- Disorders of Articulation and Phonology
- Fluency Disorders
- Normal Language Processes
- Language Assessment and Intervention with School-Age Populations
- Maxillofacial Anomalies
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Research Methods in SLP
Elective topics might cover:
- Aural Rehabilitation
- Motor Speech Disorders in Children & Adults
- Voice Disorders
- Advanced Speech and Voice Science
- Acquired Cognitive Communicative Impairments
- Communication Modalities and Assistive Technology
You’ll also need to complete a practicum before graduating. The Ohio SLP board requires graduate practicums to be at least 375 hours long, and you’ll complete a 25-hour period of shadowing before beginning to perform any procedures by yourself. Your practicum is designed to help you learn the clinical and diagnostic procedures of SLP and give you hands-on experience with speech patients.
Step 2. Begin a Clinical Fellowship Program
After graduating, you’ll need to gain at least nine months of clinical experience before becoming eligible for licensure. This is to ensure that you’re comfortable and confident completing basic clinical and diagnostic procedures that are crucial to the practice.
Your university program’s director may be able to connect you to a clinic offering clinical fellowship opportunities, or you may look for opportunities here.
You may choose to work full time (at least 30 hours per week for 36 weeks) or part time (at least 15 hours per week for 72 weeks). During this time, you’ll be expected to work with a variety of patient populations—children, pre-teens, adults, and special needs clients—as well as working with patients who have varying communication handicaps.
Before beginning your clinical fellowship, you’ll need to fill out the Supervised Professional Experience plan with your supervisor to document the activities that you’ll be performing and mail it to the Ohio SLP board at:
77 S. High Street, Suite 1659
Columbus, OH 43215
Because the purpose of the clinical fellowship is to help you gain experience in many different areas, you’ll work with as many different clients as possible. This might include assessing, evaluating, screening, diagnosing, and treating patients. You’ll also meet with client’s families, provide consulting and consultation, and learn the administrative side of the practice by documenting client case histories, recording client’s progress, and performing other tasks related to the administration of the clinic.
Once you’ve completed the clinical fellowship, you’ll need to fill out a Supervised Professional Experience Report and mail it to the Ohio SLP board.
Step 3. Pass the National SLP Exam and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential
Now that you’ve completed at least nine months of hands-on experience in the field, you’re eligible to register for the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s exam.
The exam is hosted through the third-party Praxis, and you may register online.
You’ll need to score a 162 out of 200 possible points to pass the exam.
The test will cover knowledge you learned in your graduate program as well as the assessment, diagnosis and treatment procedures you learned during your practicum and clinical fellowship.
These topics will include:
- Development and performance across the lifespan
- Factors that influence communication, feeding, and swallowing,
- Epidemiology and characteristics of common communication disorders
- Counseling, collaboration, and teaming
- Legislation and client advocacy
The test will also test your knowledge on the assessment and diagnosis of:
- Speech sound production
- Voice, resonance and motor speech
- Receptive and expressive language
- Social aspects of communication, including pragmatics
- Cognitive aspects of communication
- Augmentative and alternative communication
The Praxis study companion is designed to help you prepare for the exam.
You may take the exam in one of the following cities in Ohio:
- Middleburg Heights
You may also choose to earn your Certification 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 Ohio, but may help add credibility to your resume. You may apply through ASHA with proof of completion of a graduate program and clinical fellowship as well as passing scores on the national examination.
Step 4. Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Once you’ve received passing scores on the national exam, you may apply for licensure as a speech-language pathologist.
If you haven’t earned your CCC-SLP, you’ll need to fill out this application. You’ll need to include:
- A $200 licensing fee
- Passport photo
- Transcript from university verifying degree
- Praxis score report
- Verification of completion of clinical fellowship
If you have earned your CC-SLP, you’ll fill out this application and include the documents listed above.
Either form may be submitted to the Ohio Board of Speech-language Pathology and Audiology at:
77 S. High Street, Suite 1659
Columbus, OH 43215
Now you may consider the ways to begin your career:
Join the Clinic that Provided Required Professional Experience
Your clinical fellowship supervisor may be interested in hiring you to fill a full-time SLP position. Often, pursuing a career at the clinic which provided your clinical fellowship experience is a good option because you’ve already built relationships with the staff and clients at the clinic.
Open an Independent Practice or Partnership
You might consider opening your own independent practice or starting a partnership with another SLP. You might open an independent practice to combat a shortage of SLPs in your area, to reach rural clients who may not be able to travel to SLP clinics, or to pursue a specific patient population.
Pursue Job Openings
You’ll also be able to pursue SLP positions within hospitals, clinics, or the school system. A few examples of Ohio’s many SLP employers include:
- Kettering Health Network
- Children’s Hospital Rehab
- Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County
- Encouraging Words, LLC
- Kingston Healthcare
- Tri Health Rehabilitation Hospital
- Encore Rehabilitation Services
- Akron Children’s Hospital
- Mount Caramel Health
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital
- Select Specialty Hospital
- The Childhood League Center
- Absolute Rehabilitation, Inc.
- Avita Health System
Step 5. Renew Your License Every Two Years and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
To maintain your SLP license, you’ll need to renew your license every two years with 20 hours of continuing education. However, you won’t need to complete any continuing education hours during your first renewal period.
30 days before the renewal deadline, you’ll receive a mailed notice and a renewal application from the Ohio SLP board. Although you won’t be required to submit proof of your continuing education credits, you’ll need to sign a form certifying that you completed the required number of hours.
CE credits can take the form of academic coursework, conferences, conventions, seminars, or webinars. The only restriction that the Ohio board makes is that the continuing education courses must be approved by a state licensing board or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You might get started by browsing ASHA’s continuing education requirements.
The Ohio board also periodically offers continuing education opportunities.