Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in Alaska have the opportunity to work with rural populations with communicative disorders. It’s also an excellent place to pursue the profession, as SLPs in Alaska are the third-highest paid in the nation. In 2015, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the profession is also expected to grow by 10% over the ten years leading up to 2024, opening up more jobs for licensed SLPs in the state.
As a licensed SLP in Alaska, you’ll have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some incredibly hardworking individuals who have helped hundreds of patients overcome communicative disorders. The Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association (AKSHA) is one organization in the state that offers annual awards to SLPs in Alaska who have made outstanding contributions in the field.
Some notable SLPs in the state include Tina Clumpner and Karen Stafford, who both have worked with patients in rural Alaska and sought to bring care to those in rural areas.
AKSHA has also recognized the SLPs working in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in Alaska for their innovative solutions in the field of speech therapy. Some SLPs in the Kenai Peninsula district have flown to as many as 11 villages within a semester to give instruction to students in need of speech therapy services. Some of the Kenai Peninsula schools are in extremely remote areas, and in order to reach the students, the Kenai Peninsula SLP team developed a telespeech distance delivery program. This distance delivery program is paired with on-site work; SLPs rotate through the schools to provide in-person assistance to students, as well as assessment and collaboration with parents.
In order to become licensed as an SLP in Alaska, you’ll need to meet all requirements for the CCC-SLP credential through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) before applying for licensure through the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.
Follow the steps in the guide below to begin your career as an SLP in Alaska:
Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
To be accepted into a master’s program in communicative sciences and disorders, you need not hold a bachelor’s degree in the field.
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences or disorders, you may still be eligible to apply to the master’s program, but you will need to complete prerequisite courses in SLP fundamentals before beginning the graduate coursework.
Standard prerequisite courses include:
- Introduction to Audiology
- Speech and Language Development in Children
- Science of Language
- Neuroanatomy and Physiology of Communication
- Phonetics and Phonemics of American English
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing Mechanism
- Audiology: Intervention Strategies across the Lifespan
Most graduate programs will require you to submit the following with your application:
- A resume of your experience in the field
- A statement of purpose explaining your goals
- GRE scores
- An official transcript from all undergraduate programs
- Two letters of recommendation from academic references
As of 2016, there are no qualifying SLP programs in Alaska with accreditation from ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, making accredited online programs ideal for students in the state.
Through your online graduate program, you’ll study topics including linguistics, psychology, physiology, and the physical sciences, engaging in interactive problem modules, exams, quizzes, and live lectures. You’ll be able to complete your required professional experience in approved clinics, rehab centers and hospitals near to you.
Core courses typically include:
- Foundations of Communication Disorders
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing
- Language Development Across the Lifespan
- Phonology and Articulation Development and Disorders
- Aural Rehabilitation
- Dysphagia in Adults and Children
- Principles of Intervention with Speech-Language Disorders
- Phonological Analysis of Normal and Disordered Speech
- Multi-Cultural Issues in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
- Professional Issues in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
Electives can include:
- Counseling Skills for Communicative Sciences and Disorders
- Computerized Analysis of Language Transcripts
- Hearing Loss: Rehabilitation
- Perception and Production of Speech
- Interdisciplinary Habilitation of Speaking Voice
- Interdisciplinary Case-Based Dysphagia Management
- Approaches to Natural Language
- Communicative Science and Disorders Research Colloquium
To be eligible for ASHA certification, you’ll need to complete 12 units of coursework in social/behavioral science, biological science, physical science and statistics, which is covered in the core curriculum listed above.
Through your graduate program, you’ll study the biological, physical, and social/behavioral aspects of speech pathology. You’ll also study communication and swallowing processes, the nature of speech, language, hearing, and communication disorders. After completing the program, you’ll have gained hands-on experience with differing populations and patients with communicative disorders.
Step 2. Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
In order to gain CCC certification from ASHA, you’ll need to complete a clinical fellowship. ASHA requires that the clinical fellowship be:
- 36 weeks of full-time (35 hours per week) experience (or the equivalent part-time experience), totaling a minimum of 1260 hours. Part-time work can be completed, as long as the clinical fellow works more than 5 hours per week. Working more than 35 hours per week will not shorten the minimum requirement of 36 weeks.
- Mentoring by an individual holding ASHA certification in speech-language pathology.
- 80% of time must be spent in direct clinical contact (assessment/diagnosis/evaluation, screening, treatment, report writing, family/client consultation, and/or counseling).
At the end of the program, you will be required to submit an approvable CF Report and Rating Form to ASHA at: 2200 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850-3289.
You may look for sponsors and available clinical fellowships here.
Step 3. Pass the National Examination and Earn the CCC-SLP Credential
In order to earn your CCC-SLP credential so as to qualify for state licensure in Alaska, you’ll need to pass the National Speech and 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.
The computer-based speech-language pathology test has 132 questions that are to be completed over 150 minutes. The questions fall into the following categories:
- Foundation and professional practice—44 questions
- Screening, assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis—44 questions
- Planning, implementation, and evaluation of treatment—44 questions
The questions test knowledge in the areas of:
- Speech and production
- Motor speech
- Receptive and expressive language
- Social aspects of communication, including pragmatics
- Cognitive aspects of communication
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Feeding and swallowing
In Alaska, you may take the exam at a Praxis test center in one of the following cities:
Step 4. Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Once you’ve passed the national exam, you’ll need to do two things:
- Apply for the CCC-SLP certification through ASHA
- Apply for licensing through the Alaska Department of Commerce
To apply for CCC-SLP certification, you’ll need to fill out the application, which will include:
- A section signed by your graduate program director to verify completion
- Your graduate transcript
- A passing score from the national exam
- The speech-language pathology clinical fellowship report and rating form
You’ll then mail your completed application to:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
P.O. Box 1160, #313
Rockville, MD 20849
It usually takes about 6 weeks for the ASHA to process your application and award certification.
Once you’ve been awarded certification, you can move on to the next step: seeking licensure through the Alaska Department of Commerce.
You’ll need to fill out the Speech-Language Pathologist License Application, including a section signed by your clinical fellowship advisor, and mail it to:
State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development
Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing
Audiology/Hearing Aid Dealer/Speech-Language Pathology Section
State Office Building, 333 Willoughby Avenue, 9th Floor
PO Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806
The application is generally processed within a few weeks, at which point you’ll be mailed a license.
Now that you’re a licensed SLP in Alaska, there are three traditional ways to start your career:
- Join the Clinic that Provided RPE
- Start an Independent Practice or Partnership
- Pursue Job Openings
Join the Clinic that Provided RPE
Many clinics prefer to hire SLPs who have previous experience with their clients and staff. In fact, some clinical fellowship providers offer CF-to-full time job opportunities, allowing you to gain experience under supervision before embarking in a full time role.
To choose this route, you’ll need to contact your clinical fellowship supervisor to inquire about job opportunities.
Start an Independent Practice or Partnership
As a licensed SLP in Alaska, you are able to start your own independent practice, or partner with another SLP to open a business, provided that you obtain an Alaska Business License.
Opening your own independent practice will allow you to set your own schedule and take on as many clients as you’d like to serve. You may also be able to meet the needs of more specialized populations or travel to clients.
You may use your clinical fellowship provider as a reference for future clients, or choose to work in a clinic before beginning your own practice to build a client base and credibility.
Pursue Job Openings
Even if you don’t wish to work for your RPE provider or start your own clinic, there are numerous options in Alaska, including schools, clinics, and hospitals.
Some of these employers include:
- Soliant Health
- Ardor Health Solutions
- EBS Healthcare
- Southcentral Foundation
- Spectrum Healthcare Resources
- Host Healthcare
- Infinity Rehab
- ProCare Therapy
- Therapy Source, Inc.
- Blue Royal
- Pedia Staff
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
Alaska does not require continuing education requirements in order to renew, but you will need to renew your license yearly.
You’ll need to fill out the license renewal form and mail it to the DOC.