Speech-language pathologists in Idaho are part of a tight knit professional community that extends from the state’s university system to its public schools to the healthcare system and beyond. A key part of this community is the Idaho Speech, Language, Hearing Association (ISHA), the statewide non-profit professional association and advocacy group that works on behalf of both the SLP professional community and those suffering with communication disorders. ISHA works to provide support and promote professional opportunities for licensed SLPs in the state’s public schools, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting an increase of 18.3% in the number of SLPs in Idaho during the ten years leading up to 2024, there has never been a greater demand for qualified speech-language pathologists in Idaho than there is right now.
Speech-language pathologists are licensed through the Idaho Speech and Hearing Services Licensure Board. The board requires professional SLPs to have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, complete a yearlong clinical fellowship, and achieve a passing score on the SLP Praxis exam.
Follow these steps to learn how to become a licensed SLP in Idaho.
Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
The Idaho Licensure Board requires a master’s degree with an emphasis in speech-language pathology as the minimum educational qualification for SLP licensure. The degree must be offered through a nationally accredited school and include a Board-approved curriculum.
Programs can be completed online or on campus. Online degrees accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) are an excellent choice for working professionals with busy schedules.
If you have completed a bachelor’s degree related to communicative sciences and disorders, this gives you a distinct advantage going into a graduate program. For example, the graduate program at Idaho State University requires completion of a bachelor’s degree in this field or a year of pre-professional coursework before you can be accepted into their master’s program.
Nationally accredited master’s programs are often structured to take two-years when attending traditional campus-based classes, or three years in enrolled in a more flexible online program. Your program would typically consist of 60 credits for non-thesis students and 64 for those registered as thesis students.
Core courses would often include:
- Early Language Development and Disorders
- Principles of Research in Communication Disorders
- Disorders of Swallowing
- Neuropathologies of Speech
- Fluency Disorders in Children and Adults
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication
A major part of your master’s program will be a clinical practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed SLP. Completion of this practicum is required both for your master’s degree and for the SLP license through the Idaho Board of Licensure.
Step 2. Gain 1,260 Hours of Supervised Experience Through a Clinical Fellowship
As required by the Idaho Licensure Board, you must complete a supervised post-graduate clinical fellowship consisting of at least 1,260 hours of experience. The fellowship must consist of 36 weeks of full time work, defined as at least 35 hours a week.
You can complete these hours on a part-time basis, so long as it does not take longer than 48 months.
As required by the Idaho Board of Licensure, your fellowship must involve:
- At least 1,010 hours spent in direct content with patients and clients
- 6 hours every four months reserved for on-site observations of your supervisor engaged in direct client contact
These hours are to be completed under the supervision of a licensed SLP. You can search for clinics and licensed professionals willing to provide supervision through Idaho’s license search portal.
The Board also requires that you apply for a provisional permit before you begin your post-graduate work. As long as you are working under a provisional permit, you need to submit quarterly reports recording the number of hours you’ve completed and a short evaluation from your supervisor. You can fill out the quarterly report form and submit it by January 10th, April 10th, July 10th, and October 10th for the three months preceding each due date. Provisional permits for speech-language pathologists last for a maximum of 48 months.
During your supervised post-graduate work, you’ll be getting first hand experience as a professional speech-language pathologist. ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) has written a Scope of Practice for SLPs that discusses how a SLP should focus their professional efforts. They cover two different domains of practice: professional practice and service delivery. You’ll be practicing the process of advocacy and education, research, counseling, and treatment, which will prepare you for your professional career.
After completing 1,260 hours of RPE, you are ready to take the SLP Praxis exam.
Step 3. Pass the Speech-Language Pathology Praxis Examination
You will have the following professional experiences at this point:
- A master’s degree in communicative disorders and sciences
- A clinical practicum during your master’s program
- 1,260 hours of Required Professional Experience with a licensed SLP
This combined experience means you are prepared to take the Praxis exam, a requirement for becoming licensed to practice in Idaho. You’ll still need to apply for your Idaho license after passing this exam.
The national exam is administered by Praxis. Register using the instructions on the registration page and schedule the exam at one of the testing centers located in Idaho: Boise, Hailey, Meridian, Moscow, Pocatello, Rexburg, and Twin Falls.
The speech-language pathology exam is 150 minutes long and has 132 multiple-choice questions. Praxis has provided study materials that will help you prepare for the exam. The exam covers three basic categories, with a series of topics under each:
- Foundations and Professional Practice
- Characteristics of common communication and swallowing disorders
- Counseling, collaboration, and teaming
- Legislation and client advocacy
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis
- Feeding and swallowing disorders
- Assessing factors that influence communication and swallowing disorders
- Social aspects of communication
- Disease processes
- Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment
- Creating development goals
- Treatment principles and procedures
- Treatment of fluency issues
- Communication impairments related to cognition
- Swallowing and feeding
The exam is graded on a scale of 100 to 200, with a minimum score of 162 required to qualify for the Idaho license.
Step 4. Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Idaho
As the final step to becoming licensed through the Idaho Speech and Hearing Services Licensure Board, fill out the application form and send it in with a transcript from your graduate program and verification of your 1,260 hours of supervised experience.
The first place you might look for a job is with the clinics or hospitals in which you completed your fellowship. You can also look through recent job postings for different opportunities. Schools, hospital systems and rehabilitation centers represent the biggest employers of SLPs in Idaho. A survey of job postings in 2016 shows a number of listings from clinics and hospitals in Boise, Meridian, and Nampa.
Starting your own practice can be a rewarding option. Starting out as an independent practitioner is a great way to serve patients in your community and establish a practice in which you serve the clients you most like to work with, whether young children with language and fluency disorders or elderly clients recovering from stroke or even military service veterans in rehabilitation programs for traumatic head injuries.
The Idaho Speech, Language, Hearing Association provides excellent networking opportunities and professional support for recent licensees.
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
Idaho SLP licenses expire on your birthday, and need to be renewed every year. You’ll receive a renewal application 6 weeks before your license needs to be renewed, at which point you will renew it online through the Idaho Speech and Hearing Services Licensure Board.
You also need to complete 10 hours of continuing education each year. You are responsible for documenting the contact hours yourself. The Board conducts random audits to ensure that licensed SLPs are staying up to date on education requirements.
As a member of the Idaho Speech, Language, Hearing Association, you can participate in an annual convention and take advantage of Board-approved continuing education courses that meet license renewal requirements.