Since 2000, Georgia has played host to a growing community of SLPs working in schools around the state. The Georgia Organization of School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists was founded in 2000 after a survey indicated that parents felt there was a need for better access to SLP services in the state’s public schools.
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Since the founding of the organization, over 600 SLPs have begun work in schools around Georgia. The organization also works to increase public awareness of speech disorders and provides professional support for SLPs working in the Georgia public school system.
The success of the Georgia Organization of School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists reflects the growing need for skilled SLPs and aligns with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) projections on job growth in the field. According to a 2014 BLS report, the number of jobs for SLPs in Georgia’s schools, hospitals and clinics is expected to grow by as much as 25.5% during the ten-year period leading up to 2024.
Becoming a speech therapist by earning your SLP license through the Georgia Board of Speech Language Pathology & Audiology involves earning a master’s degree in a related field, gaining at least 1,080 hours of post-graduate professional experience, and passing the Praxis SLP Exam.
Step 1. Earn a Speech Therapist Degree: Complete a Qualifying Master’s Program in Speech-Language Pathology
In order to qualify for your SLP license, the Georgia Board of Speech and Language Pathology & Audiology requires you to hold a master’s or higher degree from an accredited program with a focus in speech-language pathology.
To meet Board requirements, you must show evidence of having completed a total of 75 credit hours of speech and language coursework, 36 of which must be in graduate level classes.
Foundational Undergraduate Courses
Many speech-language pathologists hold bachelor’s degrees in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, though this isn’t an absolute requirement to be accepted into an SLP graduate program.
Candidates accepted into a master’s program with an undergraduate degree in a major other than Communicative Sciences and Disorders would typically need to take additional foundational coursework through the school to meet prerequisite requirements before transitioning to graduate-level coursework.
Graduate Courses and Clinical Practicum
For graduate studies, the State of Georgia requires that you attend an institution accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Council on Academic Accreditation in order for your 36 graduate level credit hours to count towards meeting licensing requirements.
Topics studied at the graduate level include:
- Language Disorders
- Communication Neuroscience
- Swallowing Disorders
- Motor Speech Disorders
- Clinical Practice
- Other Speech Disorders
- Medical and Clinical Internships
Accredited online programs provide a flexible option for professionals looking to earn a graduate degree while working or attending to other obligations.
Your master’s program will include a clinical practicum that aligns with state licensing requirements. The State of Georgia requires 400 hours of experience in a clinical practicum, broken down as follows:
- 375 hours must be directly supervised
- 25 hours must be spent observing a wide variety of cases, ages, and disorders
- At least 325 hours must be gained at the graduate level
Step 2. Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
In addition to your master’s program, you need to complete 1,080 hours of Required Professional Experience (RPE) to meet state licensing requirements in Georgia. In order to be accepted into an RPE program, you first need to complete your master’s program.
RPE hours are completed under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist who is already licensed through the Georgia Board of Speech and Language Pathology & Audiology.
Before you begin your work, you will complete the Fellow Provisional License application form with your supervising SLP and submit it to the Board. The provisional license is active for a year, and can be renewed once if you haven’t completed your RPE in the first year.
You can complete your hours at a full time rate or part time according to these scheduling models:
- 30 hours a week for 36 weeks
- 25-29 hours a week for 48 weeks
- 20-24 hours a week for 60 weeks
- 15-19 hours a week for 72 weeks
- You cannot work for less than 15 hours a week and have the hours count towards your RPE total
The skills you develop during your RPE will carry over to your professional career. Your time working with a licensed SLP will teach you the practical application of many SLP skills as described in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) SLP Scope of Practice. This would include:
- Education on speech and swallowing disorders
- Assessment and Treatment
- Prevention and Wellness
As you learn these skills and work with patients, be sure to keep track of how many hours you are completing. Once you’ve completed your hours, you would fill out this documentation of completion form. That form will signal the end of your Required Professional Experience, and the point at which you would be ready to take the national exam for CCC-SLP credentialing and SLP licensure in Georgia.
Step 3. Pass the National Examination and Apply for Your Georgia SLP License
To recap your experience to this point, you will have completed the following:
- A master’s program in speech and language pathology related studies
- At least 75 total credit hours of academic learning with at least 36 hours at the graduate level
- 400 hours in a supervised clinical practicum
- 36 weeks or 1,080 hours of post-graduate professional experience
This combined experience means you are prepared to take the SLP Praxis Exam, a requirement for licensure in Georgia.
To take the exam, you would first register with Praxis, the exam administrator. You can register for the exam online, through mail, or over the phone. Follow the instructions on their registration page for information on how to register. You will find test centers located in Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dahlonega, Dalton, Macon, Savannah, Smyrna, and Valdosta.
Once you are registered for the exam, you can prepare for it using the materials provided by Praxis. The test is 150 minutes long, and has 132 multiple-choice questions. Here is how the exam topics break down:
- Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
- Development and Performance
- Wellness and Prevention
- Culturally appropriate service delivery
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
- Communication disorders
- Case Histories
- Voice, resonance, and motor speech
- Social aspects of communication
- Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
- Factors that can affect treatment
- Treatment principles and procedures
- Follow-up on post-treatment recommendations
- Speech sound production and fluency
- Swallowing and feeding
You need to pass the exam with a score of 162, both to qualify for the CCC-SLP and to be eligible for the Georgia SLP license.
Applying for Licensure
After being notified that you passed the exam, you can apply for your Georgia SLP license online.
Your license will be granted only after a full review of your qualifications and approval through the Georgia Board of Speech Language Pathology & Audiology.
It will take the board about 30 days to issue your license if your application packet is complete and includes all the required supporting documents.
Optional CCC-SLP Certification
Passing the exam would also allow you to apply for the CCC-SLP (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology), an optional certification offered through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This national certification does NOT entitle you to a license to practice in Georgia.
To be granted the CCC-SLP credential, you need to fill out this application and submit it with an official graduate transcript, your test scores (sent from Praxis directly to ASHA), and a separate Clinical Fellowship form documenting your RPE.
Step 4. Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Georgia
After earning your Georgia SLP license, you are free to begin working as a professional speech-language pathologist. You have a lot of options moving forward, including the ability to earn specialty qualifications.
- Start an Independent PracticeAfter earning your SLP license, you have the choice of starting your own independent practice. If there is demand for a SLP clinic in your local community, this can be a rewarding experience. Running your own practice will allow you to craft a positive speech and language therapy experience for your clients, supervise students completing their master’s programs and RPE requirements, and hire a highly specialized team of qualified speech and language professionals.
- Pursue Job OpeningsIf you aren’t interested in starting your own practice right after earning your license, you can pursue job openings. This would often mean being hired on with the clinic through which you completed your RPE.In Georgia, there is always a demand for SLPs in the public school systems. Many SLPs that work in schools are contracted through Staffing Options and Solutions, Inc., a staffing firm that matches professional therapists with schools in 12 states across the US. As of July 2016, Staffing Options and Solutions, Inc listed more than 100 school-related job openings in Georgia alone.Additionally, the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a list of job openings on their site, which is updated frequently.
- Earn Specialty CertificationsYou would also now be in a position to pursue specialty certifications through ASHA indicating your exceptional skills in different areas of communication disorder studies. ASHA currently recognizes and offers specialty certification in the following specialties:
- Child language and language disorders
- Fluency and fluency disorders
- Swallowing and swallowing disorders
- Intraoperative monitoring
If these specialties interest you, read more at ASHA’s specialty certification page.
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
Once you earn your Georgia SLP license, you need to keep it up to date by satisfying continuing education requirements.
Your SLP license needs to be renewed every odd year by March 31.
During each two-year period, you need to complete 20 continuing education hours. Hours do not carry over from one two-year licensing cycle to another.
You can take continuing education courses through the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association. They frequently host education courses that count towards the 20 required hours.
Speech-Language Pathology Salary in Georgia
Georgia’s speech-language pathologists with salaries within the top 10% earned an average of $100,963 as of 2016 according to the state’s Department of Labor. Statewide, SLPs earned an average salary of $72,427 that year. The hourly wages for these categories ranged from $34.83 to $48.54.
Counties in which speech-language pathologists earned the highest average salaries are shown below:
- Glynn County: $89,678
- Chatham County: $84,405
- DeKalb County: $84,318
- Floyd County: $80,742
- Muscogee County: $80,595
- Liberty County: $78,402
- Hall County: $74,838
- Douglas County: $74,400
- Lowndes County: $74,152
- Catoosa County: $73,391
High Rates of Job Growth for Georgia’s Speech-Language Pathologists
The profession of speech-language pathology ranked as one of “Georgia’s Hot Careers to 2022” based on these criteria:
- Fast job growth
- Above average wages
- At least 100 expected annual openings a year
In fact, the rate of job growth for SLPs in the state should be higher than the national average. The Georgia Department of Labor predicts that the rate of increase for jobs in this field will be 25.8% between 2014 and 2024.
This level of growth should generate an average of 145 jobs a year for speech-language pathologists. Twenty openings a year should become available each year on average in these regions:
- City of Atlanta
- Fulton County
- Southern Georgia
Georgia’s Department of Labor predicts that 10 jobs a year will become available in these regions:
- Northwest Georgia
- Georgia Mountains
- Cobb County
- Atlanta Regional
- Northeast Georgia
- Coastal Georgia
The Atlanta area has an unusually large number of speech-language pathologists employed there. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell had the 8th largest number of SLPs of any metropolitan area in the country in 2015.
Salaries for Speech-Language Pathologists in Georgia’s Cities and Rural Areas
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed breakdown of the salaries for speech-language pathologists in Georgia as of 2015:
Salaries for Speech-Language Pathologists in Georgia’s Major Cities
Shown below for comparison is the range of salaries (from the average to the top 10%) as published by the Georgia Department of Labor in 2016:
- Annual: $52,562 – $62,046
- Hourly: $25.27 – $29.83
- Annual: $70,782 – $94,931
- Hourly: $34.03 – $45.64
- Annual: $72,134 – $97,968
- Hourly: $34.68 – $47.10
- Annual: $68.120 – $99,965
- Hourly: $32.75 – $48.06
- Annual: $89,690 – $113,672
- Hourly: $43.12 – $54.65
- Annual: $87,256 – $123,344
- Hourly: $41.95 – $59.30
- Annual: $74,838 – $100,131
- Hourly: $35.98 – $48.14
- Annual: $78,416 – $99,466
- Hourly: $37.70 – $47.82
- Annual: $81,016 – $118,435
- Hourly: $38.95 – $56.94
- Annual: $80,725 – $112,549
- Hourly: $38.81 – $54.11
- Annual: $76,357 – $99,424
- Hourly: $36.71 – $47.80