The Iowa Department of Education has put a strong focus on helping students with communication disorders in its school system, facilitating assessments and treatment options conducted by resident speech-language pathologists working within the schools. Beyond public school, the Department of Education also sponsors efforts with local districts to offer speech therapy services to students even beyond high school, all the way up to age 21.
These state-sponsored efforts, along with a growing need for SLP services in private practices, clinics and rehabilitation centers throughout the state, have been driving demand for licensed speech-language pathologists in Iowa. So much so, that the Iowa Workforce Development Labor Market Information Division expects to see a 24.6% increase in the number of SLP licensed issued in the ten years leading up to 2024.
To become an SLP and join the movement to make speech therapy services more accessible as demand grows in the state, you would start by meeting licensing requirements established by the Iowa Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology.
Follow these steps to learn more:
Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
The Board issues licenses to qualified applicants that hold a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, who have completed a clinical fellowship, and demonstrated competence through an examination process.
The Board also recognizes the CCC-SLP (Certification of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) as meeting all requirements for licensure.
You are required to hold a master’s degree with a major in speech-language pathology through an accredited school. Accreditation is granted through national or regional accreditation agencies, or through ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).
The CAA and other accrediting agencies accredit both online master’s programs and traditional campus-based programs. As more working professionals find full-time traditional campus-based programs incompatible with their work schedules, online programs have become the preferred method for meeting education requirements.
Typically, communicative disorders and sciences graduate programs do not require an undergraduate degree in the same field. If you do have an undergraduate background in the field, you are at a great advantage when applying to graduate programs. If you don’t, many graduate programs simply require that you take some pre-professional courses before making the transition to graduate courses.
Foundational prerequisite courses often include
- Introduction to Audiology
- Clinical Phonetics
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing Mechanism
- Neuroanatomy & Communication
- Science of Language
In addition to the CAA-accredited online programs that are now widely available, there are four accredited master’s programs in communicative sciences and disorders available at campus based schools in Iowa.
- Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology at University of Iowa
- Master of Speech-Language Pathology at St. Ambrose University
- Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology at University of Northern Iowa
- Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Northern Iowa
Using the University of Iowa program as an example, you can expect your graduate program to cover 60-65 credits worth of material. Here is a short list of some of the courses you can expect to take at the graduate level:
- Introduction to Hearing Science
- Language Acquisition
- Developmental Speech Disorders
- Psychology of Language
- Introduction to Stuttering
- Rehabilitative Audiology
- Swallowing Disorders
- Phonological Development and Disorders
Outside of the classroom, you’ll be completing a 400-hour clinical practicum. This practicum is a requirement for Iowa licensure and completion of your graduate program. You are required to work with a licensed speech-language pathologist in order for this clinical practicum to count towards an Iowa license.
Step 2. Gain Nine Months of Professional Experience Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
The State of Iowa requires at least 9 months of clinical experience supervised by a licensed speech-language pathologist after earning your master’s degree.
You can identify clinics and hospitals qualified to facilitate clinical fellowships through the Public License Search engine.
After confirming your fellowship position with a state sanctioned SLP service provider, you need to apply for a temporary clinical license. Fill out the license application and mark “Temporary Clinical License” on question 17. Submit the application along with the supervised clinical experience plan form. Only supervised experience that takes place after being granted the Temporary Clinical License will count toward meeting the post-graduate experience requirements for licensure. The license is valid for a year.
The purpose of your RPE is to give you hands on experience in a speech-language clinic before you apply for a permanent license. ASHA has drafted a Scope of Practice for SLPs that highlights the primary skills you’ll be practicing during your period of pre-professional experience. Many SLPs get direct experience with leadership and research skills, screening, assessment, training procedures, and advocacy and outreach programs through legislation during their pre-professional experience period.
If you plan to qualify for licensure by earning the CCC-SLP (Certification of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), be sure to fill out the Clinical Fellowship Reporting form, which you will submit as part of your application for the credential.
Step 3. Pass the SLP Praxis Examination and Consider Applying for the CCC-SLP Credential
Start by registering for the Praxis-administered Speech-Language Pathology Exam by following the instructions on the registration page. You’ll be able to select from test centers in Bettendorf, Cedar Falls, Coralville, Decorah, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Orange City, Sioux City, and West Des Moines.
After you’re registered, you can start studying for the exam using Praxis’s study materials.
The exam has a 150-minute time limit and consists of 132 multiple-choice questions divided over three focus areas:
- Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
- Practical ethics
- Legislation and client advocacy
- Wellness and prevention
- Development and performance across a lifespan
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
- Genetic and developmental disorders
- Disease processes
- Communication disorders
- Assessment of disorders
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
- Evaluating factors that can affect treatment
- Determining treatment details
- Monitoring treatment
- Treatment methods
To pass the exam, you need to score 162 on a scale of 100 to 200.
Qualifying for Licensure with the CCC-SLP Credential
Passing the Praxis exam will qualify you for the CCC-SLP (Certification of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is a viable option for qualifying for the Iowa SLP license.
The CCC-SLP credential is NOT required for licensure in Iowa, but is one method of demonstrating to the Iowa Board that you have met all licensing requirements.
If you hold the credential, the Iowa Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology will recognize that you have satisfied all requirements without the need to review your education, practicum, post-professional experience or exam score.
To apply for the CCC-SLP, fill out the application and submit it with the Clinical Fellowship Reporting form you completed for your clinical fellowship, along with an official transcript from your master’s program.
If you are interested in offering specialized services, you can also earn specialty certification through ASHA:
- Child language and language disorders
- Fluency and fluency disorders
- Swallowing and swallowing disorders
- Intraoperative monitoring
Step 4. Apply for Licensure and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Iowa
Start by creating an account online
Completing the hard copy Application for Iowa Board of Speech Pathology/Audiology Licensure
Along with your application, you must submit:
- Official copy of Certificate of clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- Official transcripts from your master’s program
- Official verification that you completed a 400-hour supervised clinical practicum
- Official verification of nine months of full-time clinical experience
- Praxis Examination Scores
After becoming licensed, many SLPs secure full time employment with the clinic or hospital where they completed their fellowship. You can also search the job listings board on the Iowa Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. You can also look into applying for jobs in the public school system. The Iowa Department of Education has a Speech-Language Services page with resources for local education related services and positions.
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure by Completing Continuing Education Requirements
You must renew your license every two years through the Iowa Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology online system. You also need to complete 30 hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle.
The Iowa Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers continuing education hours in the form of a yearly convention. You could also consider joining the Association as a member. Member benefits include professional support in the form of continuing education, legislative support, and continuing education opportunities.