Speech-language pathologists enjoy the unique rewards that come with a career dedicated to helping diverse patient populations overcome communicative disorders.
With Colorado being 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 the latest developments in the field. 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.
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:
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
- 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.
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:
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Grand Junction
- Greenwood Village
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:
- The application form
- A $145 fee
- Official transcripts from graduate program
- Successful completion of a clinical fellowship with CF rating and report form
- National Examination scores
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