How to Become a Speech Therapist in Hawaii

Hawaii boasts a large and vibrant community of speech-language pathologists. There are over 30 different clinics operating in Hawaii, many of which are recognized by the Hawaii Speech-Language-Hearing Association (HSHA).

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HSHA is a growing professional association that provides continuing education for its members and runs the Hawaii Speech Language Hearing Foundation, a non-profit foundation that funds an annual HSHA conference and additional professional services.

In Hawaii, speech-language pathology practitioner licenses are grated to qualified professionals that have earned a master’s degree in speech therapy, completed a 375-hour clinical practicum, gained 36 weeks of professional fellowship experience in a local clinic or hospital, and achieved passing scores on a competency exam.

Here you will find detailed guidance on how to become a speech therapist by earning your SLP license through the Hawaii Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology.

Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
Pass the National Examination and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential
Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Hawaii
Keep Your SLP License Current



Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology

To qualify for an SLP license in Hawaii, you need to complete a master’s degree in a speech-language pathology related field or an education equivalent to a master’s degree.

Master’s degree equivalency would be met with a bachelor’s degree and at least 75 semester hours of graduate level classes to include:

  • At least 27 credits need to be used covering basic science coursework. This includes biological, physical, social, and behavioral sciences, and mathematics and human communication processes.
  • Another 36 credits need to be in professional coursework relevant to speech-language patholog. 30 credits need to be at the graduate level.
    • 21 credits need to be in speech-language pathology.
    • 6 credits need to be in audiology.
    • A maximum of 6 credits of clinical practicum can count toward the 30 graduate level credits.

Often, communicative sciences and disorders graduate students have completed a bachelor’s degree in the same field before starting their master’s program. However, most graduate programs do not require a bachelor’s in the same field. If you don’t have a bachelor’s in communicative disorders and sciences, you may have to take prerequisite courses before beginning the graduate level classes.

The Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at the University of Hawaii offers a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders with an emphasis on Speech-Language Pathology that meets the Board’s requirements. The program takes 2 years and about 75 credits of classes. During your program, you will study the following topics:

  • Disorders of Phonology and Articulation
  • Child Language Disorders
  • Neuroscience in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
  • Aphasia and the Dementias
  • Dysphagia
  • Audiological Foundation for Speech-Language Pathology
  • Disorders of Fluency
  • Voice Disorders

You can also choose to pursue an online degree in the field of communicative sciences and disorders. Online options offer a greater level of flexibility, both in terms of being free to access course materials from anywhere, and in terms of the pace you set for completing the program. Online programs provide an excellent alternative to campus-based programs if you are working full time.

Your master’s program will include a clinical practicum component. The Board requires a minimum of 375 hours of supervised clinical practicum experience to be documented on a verification form.



Step 2. Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program

After you graduate from your master’s program, you need to complete a period of Required Professional Experience to qualify for a Speech-Language Pathology practitioner’s license.

The Board requires the clinical fellowship to take place after completing your master’s degree program and initial clinical practicum. Your post-master’s professional experience would involve working under a licensed speech-language pathologist for no less than 36 weeks to complete a fellowship that meets the Board’s requirements. You can find licensed independent SLPs and clinics through the Hawaii Licensing Search page.

During your fellowship, you’ll be primarily doing clinical work, learning the practical application of skills outlined in ASHA’s SLP Scope of Practice, including education of patients and their caretakers, screening, assessment and treatment of patients of all kinds, and innovative research.



Step 3. Pass the National Examination and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential

After completing your RPE, you are ready to take the national exam and become a licensed SLP. Here are the professional experiences and requirements you will have completed:

  • A master’s degree in a speech-language pathology related field of study or its equivalent
  • 375 hours in a clinical practicum
  • 36 weeks in a clinical fellowship

The exam you’ll be taking is a national exam developed by ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) and offered through Praxis. You need to register for the exam either through the mail, over the phone, or online. Follow the instructions on the registration page for detailed instructions. Testing centers are located in Hilo, Honolulu, Kahului Maui, Lihue, and Mililani.

The speech-language pathology exam is 150 minutes long and has 132 questions. You can review the study materials provided by Praxis before going in for your exam. The exam covers three main categories. Here is how those categories break down:

  • Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
    • Development and Performance
    • Common communication and swallowing disorders
    • Counseling and collaboration
    • Ethics
    • Client advocacy
  • Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
    • Screening for disorders
    • Developing case histories
    • Speech sound production
    • Fluency
    • Disease processes
  • Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
    • Monitoring treatment progress
    • Follow-up processes
    • Social aspects of communication
    • Communication impairments
    • Hearing and aural rehabilitation

You need to pass this exam with a score of 162 (on a scale of 100-200) to qualify for a Hawaii SLP license.

Applying for an SLP License Through the Hawaii Board

Next, you can apply for your Hawaii SLP license by filling out the SLP application form. With that form, you will also submit three other documents proving you have satisfied professional experience requirements:

Send all forms to the Hawaii Board of SPA in one envelope. You will be contacted with your license after a thorough review of your application.

Applying for National Certification Through ASHA

With your combined experience and education, you would also qualify for the CCC-SLP (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) after passing the Praxis exam.

The CCC-SLP is a national certification, not a license to practice. However, earning the CCC-SLP would satisfy all licensing requirements in Hawaii and can be used to demonstrate that you meet Board requirements for licensure.

After passing the exam, you can apply for your CCC-SLP by filling out the Application for CCC-SLP and submitting it with an official graduate transcript, your test scores, and a separate Clinical Fellowship form documenting your RPE.

If you are interested in more specific areas of practice you can pursue specialty certification through ASHA in one of the following areas:

  • Child language and language disorders
  • Fluency and fluency disorders
  • Swallowing and swallowing disorders
  • Intraoperative monitoring

You can learn more about these certifications at ASHA’s specialty certification page.



Step 4. Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Hawaii

After earning your Hawaii SLP License, you can practice as a professional speech-language pathologist. There are multiple paths you can take to enter the field as a professional SLP in Hawaii …

Pursue Job Openings

Often times, SLPs that have just earned their licenses go back to work with the clinic or hospital where they completed their clinical fellowship. Alternatively, you can look through recent job openings for unique opportunities.

The Hawaii Speech-Language-Hearing Association has posted a list of local employers. One of the largest providers on that list is Easter Seals Hawaii. Easter Seals is a national organization that provides services and support to children and adults with many kinds of disabilities, including speech and communicative disorders.

Practice Independently

If you would rather strike out on your own, you always have the option of starting your own independent practice. This is an excellent option if you have a vision for the kind of clinic you would like to operate. You’ll be able to create the perfect experience for your patients and their caretakers, hire qualified and skilled professionals, and train new speech-language pathologists in your clinic.



Step 5. Keep Your SLP License Current

Once you have your SLP license, you’ll need to keep your license up to date by renewing it every two years on December 31. The Hawaii Board of SPA will send out reminder postcards in early November. You can renew your Hawaii license online.

Hawaii does not require any continuing education for SLPs. However, you can become a member of the Hawaii Speech-Language-Hearing Association (HSHA) and take continuing education courses electively to stay current in the field. HSHA offers varying levels of membership at the student level, associate level, and professional level.

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