How to Become a Speech Therapist in Kentucky

The Kentucky Children’s Hospital is just one example of the robust speech-language pathology services available to children in Kentucky. The Children’s Hospital team includes fourteen speech-language pathologists who provide a wide array of services, as well as specialized treatments including social communicative disorder treatments, traumatic brain injury treatments, and much more.

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A growing community of speech-language pathologists and communicative disorders physicians across the state ensures that both children and adults have access to the highest quality speech and language therapeutic services available. Career projections for SLPs reflect this flourishing community. For example, the Kentucky Career Center estimates 80 average annual openings SLPs in the state through 2022.

To join this rapidly growing profession, you’ll need to earn licensure state licensure, which starts by earning a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, completing a clinical fellowship, and passing the Praxis SLP exam.

Follow these steps to become a licensed speech therapist in Kentucky by earning your SLP license through the state’s Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology:

Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech Therapy (Speech-Language Pathology)
Gain Required Professional Experience (RPE) Through a Clinical Fellowship Program
Pass the Speech-Language Pathologist Praxis Examination
Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements



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

To qualify for SLP licensure in Kentucky, you must earn a master’s or higher degree in speech-language pathology that has been accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).

Institutions across the country offer accredited online programs, an excellent option for working professionals with busy schedules.

Foundational Courses 

Completing an undergraduate program in the field of communication sciences and disorders provides the most direct route to earning a master’s degree in the same field.

However, you can still pursue a master’s degree in SLP if you possess an undergraduate degree in another field, provided you complete several prerequisite courses or a pre-professional program before commencing your graduate studies. Most institutions that offer SLP graduate programs gladly accommodate incoming students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds by offering foundational courses online to facilitate an easy transition to graduate-level coursework.

Graduate Courses and Clinical Practicum 

Some of the courses found in SLP master’s degree programs include:

  • Diagnosis of Communicative Disorders
  • Advanced Language Disorders
  • Advanced Fluency Disorders
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Professional Issues in Communicative Disorders

Your graduate program will also include a clinical practicum of at least 375 hours, which you must complete to graduate and meet state requirements for licensure.

There are five CAA-accredited master’s degree programs in speech-language pathology available through campus-based programs in Kentucky that provide an alternative to distance learning options:

  • Master of Arts in Education in Communicative Disorders at Eastern Kentucky University
  • Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at Murray State University
  • Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at University of Kentucky
  • Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at University of Louisville
  • Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at Western Kentucky University



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

You must complete at least 9 months (1,260 hours) of full-time professional experience through a clinical fellowship before you can become licensed in Kentucky. You may also complete your fellowship on a part-time basis, although all 1,260 hours must be completed within a 24-month timeframe. You’ll be working with a state-licensed speech-language pathologist during this time.

Just a few employers in Kentucky you may consider contacting for your clinical fellowship are shown here:

  • PresenceLearning, Princeton
  • Signature Health Care, Horse Cave
  • RehabCare, Hopskinsville
  • Fusion Medical Staffing, Lebanon

You must complete an Application for Interim Licensure within 30 days of starting your Required Professional Experience (RPE) and submit it to the Board, along with:

  • Your SLP master’s degree transcripts
  • A written plan detailing your supervisor’s qualifications and job setting

Your interim license is good for 24 months while you complete your clinical fellowship.

During your RPE, you’ll gain firsthand experience as a professional speech-language pathologist. Many SLPs work in different environments, so their skills are flexible depending on the needs of the patient.

ASHA has drafted a Scope of Practice for SLPs that helps provide clarity and a framework that can be applied to all scenarios. Your fellowship will be spent working on leadership and research skills, assessment and diagnosis procedures, and legislative and advocacy issues.



Step 3. Pass the Speech-Language Pathologist Praxis Examination

The final step to licensure is the national SLP exam, administered by Praxis and developed by ASHA. Passing this exam will qualify you for your Kentucky SLP license.

You must register for the exam by following the instructions on the registration page. You can choose from the following locations in Kentucky when scheduling your exam:

  • Bowling Green
  • Florence
  • Frankfort
  • Highland Heights
  • Lexington
  • Louisville
  • Morehead
  • Murray
  • Somerset

The exam consists of 132 questions that must be completed in 150 minutes. The test is divided up into three different categories. You can view those categories and study for the exam using study materials from Praxis:

  • Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
    • Characteristics of common communication and swallowing disorders
    • Culturally and linguistically appropriate service delivery
    • Documentation
    • Professional Ethics
  • Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
    • Communication Disorders
    • Feeding and Swallowing Disorders
    • Developing Case Histories
    • Assessing factors that influence communication and swallowing disorders
    • Assessment of anatomy and physiology
  • Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
    • Evaluating factors that can affect treatment
    • Initiating and prioritizing treatment and development goals
    • Determining appropriate treatment details
    • Communicating recommendations
    • Following up on referrals and treatment recommendations

The passing score on the exam is 162 on a scale of 100-200.

Optional CCC-SLP Certification

After passing the Praxis SLP exam, you are eligible to apply for the CCC-SLP designation. The CCC-SLP is not required to become a licensed SLP in Kentucky, but many SLPs find it beneficial when applying for SLP jobs and advancing in the profession because it displays an advanced commitment to the profession.

Fill out the Application for the CCC-SLP and submit it to ASHA, along with an official transcript from your graduate program and a completed Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form.

Many SLPs also earn specialty certifications through ASHA that reflect their specific skillsets. These include:

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

You can read more about these on the Clinical Specialty Certification page.



Step 4. Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist

Fill out the Application for License as a speech-language pathologist and submit it to the Board with your exam scores and an official transcript from your graduate program.

After earning their license, many SLPs find employment at the same clinic or hospital where they completed their RPE.

You can also search for SLP jobs using the Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Job Finder page. Employers post new listings from local hospitals, therapy clinics, and rehabilitation centers.

Many SLPs also work in the public school system, offering educational assistance to students with communicative disabilities. Working in the public school system requires additional licensure, which has been summarized by ASHA. Contact local school districts for job openings.

If you choose to become an independent practitioner, you’ll be able to develop your own treatment programs, hire specialized speech-language pathologists and audiologists, and offer peace of mind to caregivers and patients alike.



Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

Your SLP license must be renewed every two years, and you must complete 30 hours of continuing education during each renewal period.

The Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides continuing education opportunities. You can also choose to apply for a membership with the Association, which provides many professional benefits including an opportunity to network with other SLP professionals in the state.

Speech-Language Pathology Salary in Kentucky

Experienced speech-language pathologists in Kentucky earned an average salary of $102,187 ($49.13 hourly) as of 2015 according to the Commonwealth’s Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development. SLPs earned an average salary of $69,856 ($33.59 hourly) that year.

SLP Salaries in Kentucky by Region

The Cabinet provides salary figures for the major regions in Kentucky. Shown below is the range of salaries from the average to that of the most experienced (70th percentile average):

Kentuckiana Works:

  • Annual: $81,928 – $115,295
  • Hourly: $39.39 – $55.43

Northern Kentucky:

  • Annual: $69,964 – $96,682
  • Hourly: $33.64 – $46.49


  • Annual: $67,758 – $105,079
  • Hourly: $32.58 – $50.52

West Kentucky:

  • Annual: $60,208 – $86,174
  • Hourly: $28.94 – $41.43

The average salary for speech-language pathologists in additional regions of Kentucky is shown below:

  • Louisville: $81,928
  • Bluegrass: $68,694
  • Barren River: $68,141
  • Buffalo Trace & Gateway: $67,704
  • Kentucky River: $66,051
  • Big Sandy: $65,567
  • Fivco: $63,730
  • Purchase: $63,354

Job Growth in Speech-Language Pathology Outpaces the State Average Job Growth Rate

The Kentucky Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development predicts that the number of jobs for speech-language pathologists in the Commonwealth will increase at a rate 1.9 times faster than the state’s overall average job growth rate. The Cabinet expects the number of SLP jobs in the state to increse by 22.7% between 2012 and 2022.

On average, 80 SLP jobs are expected to become available each year during this ten-year period. Sixty percent of these positions will be due to growth in the profession with the remainder coming from the need to replace speech-language pathologists who will leave the field.

The nonmetropolitan area of South Central Kentucky had the 4th highest number of jobs for SLPs of any nonmetropolitan area in the country in 2015 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 11% of Kentucky’s speech-language pathologists practiced in this area that year.

Private clinics provide opportunities for SLPs to practice in the private sector. A number of clinics in Kentucky feature speech-language pathology services:

  • Crestwood: Chatter Box
  • Florence: NKY Speech
  • Louisville: Associates in Pediatric Therapy
  • Louisville: Shamrock Speech Therapy, LLC
  • Owensboro: Medical Speech Pathology, Inc.
  • Owensboro: Simply Therapy
  • Sheperdsville: Associates in Pediatric Therapy

Salaries for Speech-Language Pathologists in Kentucky’s Major Cities and Its Rural Areas

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed analysis of the salaries for speech-language pathologists throughout Kentucky as of 2015:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bowling Green KY
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox KY
Lexington-Fayette KY
Louisville/Jefferson County KY-IN
Owensboro KY
West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area

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