In Massachusetts, the majority of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are employed in elementary and secondary schools, while private practice, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and in-home health care also offer great opportunities.
As an aspiring SLP in Massachusetts, you’ll be surrounded by some of the top speech therapy professionals in the nation. The Voice and Speech Laboratory at Massachusetts Eye and Ear has been recognized nationally for its clinical performance and for the research being conducted at the lab. As an SLP, you might choose to work in one of the specialties offered at the voice and speech lab—supporting patients who have lost their voice box to cancer or working with professionals who use their voice to support their livelihood, such as actors, singers, or announcers.
As an SLP in Massachusetts, you’ll likely be involved with the Massachusetts Speech-Language Hearing Association (MSHA), a state-wide organization which offers SLPs the opportunity to pursue continuing education and recognizes outstanding SLPs in the state, whether for their clinical practice or advances in research.
Through workshops and summits, MSHA will offer you the chance to meet other practicing SLPs in the state and explore new therapeutic topics. MSHA has offered continuing education on such topics as how to correctly use the PROMPT: technique, and the impact of hearing-related speech disorders on a student’s academic performance and social skills.
Your SLP license will be issued through the Board of Registration for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Follow the step-by-step process below to become an SLP in Massachusetts:
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology
As of 2005, the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology requires all SLP license candidates to meet all education, experience and exam requirements for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Your first step will be to earn a master’s or higher degree in speech-language pathology or communicative sciences and disorders through a program accredited by ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).
CAA-accredited online programs are widely available, and offer the convenience of being able to complete clinical practicums at partner clinics and hospitals located near you.
Graduate Program Admissions and Foundational Course Requirements
Admissions to CAA-accredited graduate programs would generally require:
- A bachelor’s degree
- A 3.0 GPA or higher in undergraduate coursework
- Excellent academic references
- High GRE scores
If you don’t have a degree in communicative sciences and disorders, you’ll need to complete prerequisites online through the university before beginning your master’s core courses. They usually include these courses:
- Intro to Language and Communication
- Intro to Audiology
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech Hearing Mechanisms
- Intro to Language Development
- Acoustic Bases of Speech and Hearing
- Neurological Bases of Communication
- Intro to Communication Disorders
- Clinical and Diagnostic Procedures in SLP
Clinical Practicum and Master’s Core Courses
Just like traditional programs, online programs will involve completing classroom coursework and a clinical practicum of at least 400 clock hours to meet minimum requirements for CCC-SLP certification. The practicum is a supervised, hands-on experience at a clinic, where you’ll learn to assess, diagnose and treat patients under the guidance of your supervisor.
Core courses will draw from the disciplines of linguistics, psychology, and physiology. They usually include the following courses:
- Speech Sound Disorders in Children
- Development and Disorders of Written and Spoken Language
- Diagnostic Methods and Clinical Processes in CSD
- Seminar for Spoken and Written Language Disorders
- Foundations of Cognition
- Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of Communication and Swallowing
- Aphasia in Adults
Electives will vary widely depending on what you choose to specialize in, but could include:
- Teaching Language and Literacy to English Language Learners
- Neuromotor Speech Disorders
- Acquired Cognitively Based Communication Disorders
- Dysphagia in Adults and Children
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Physiology, Acoustics, and Perception of Speech
- Voice Disorders
- Aural Rehabilitation
Step 2. Log Required Professional Experience (RPE) Hours Through a Clinical Fellowship
After completing your graduate program and your practicum hours, you’ll enter into a clinical fellowship. The clinical fellowship is meant to transition you smoothly from your studies to a career as an SLP. Like the practicum, you’ll complete supervised activities and be required to work with a diverse array of patients.
You may choose either a full time (36 weeks of 35 hours per week) or a part time option, but the clinical fellowship must be at least 1,260 hours and a minimum of 36 weeks.
You’ll be mentored by a licensed SLP in Massachusetts during your clinical fellowship. 80% of the clinical fellowship must involve:
- Report writing
- Family and client consultation
- Counseling of patients
The other 20% of the time is often spent in administrative duties.
At the end of the 36 weeks, you’ll need to complete a CF report and rating form, get it signed by your supervisor, and mail it to ASHA at:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #313
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Step 3. Pass the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology and Apply for CCC-SLP Certification
Now that you’ve completed your clinical fellowship, it’s time to prepare for the National Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology, hosted through the ETS testing services.
You can easily apply online, but you’ll also need to send an official graduate transcript and proof of completion of a clinical fellowship to Praxis before you’ll be eligible to test.
You can take the exam in one of these Massachusetts cities:
- North Andover
- West Springfield
The exam covers topics you’ll have covered in your core coursework during your master’s program, such as speech and production, voice and resonance, receptive and expressive language, and social and cognitive aspects of communication. These topics are split into three broad categories:
- Foundation and professional practice
- Screen, assessment, evaluation and diagnosis
- Planning, implementation, and evaluation
You must score at least a 162 on the exam in order to be eligible to apply for CCC-SLP certification, which is the next step towards licensure.
If you need some extra time to prepare, feel free to review the practice questions and other tips in the Praxis study companion.
It usually takes several weeks to hear back from Praxis about the results of the examination. Once you’ve received your score, you’ll need to apply for certification through ASHA. Earning the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) is the last step to complete before becoming fully licensed in Massachusetts.
To apply, you may submit to the ASHA:
- The application, proving you have completed a graduate program and a practicum
- Certification fee of $461
- Passing scores on the national exam
- Clinical Fellowship form, signed by your supervisor
The certification is generally awarded after six weeks.
Step 4. Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist
As a CCC-SLP certified professional, you’re now eligible to apply for licensing through the Massachusetts SLP Board.
You’ll need to print and complete the application, get it notarized, and mail it with:
- A $68 fee
- The ASHA verification of CCC-SLP credential
- Evidence of a minimum of 400 clock hours earned during a practicum
- A master’s degree transcript
- Official Praxis score
You’ll need to mail the application and all supporting documentation to:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Professional Licensure
Board of Registration for Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology
100 Washington Street, Suite 170
Boston, MA 02118-6100
There are several ways to begin practicing as an SLP once you’ve earned your license:
Join the Clinic that Provided RPE
You might want to consider pursuing a full-time opportunity at the clinic that provided your clinical fellowship hours. Your work at the clinic most likely helped you develop relationships with patients, patient’s families, and staff members, and your supervisor may serve as a reference for you.
Start an Independent Practice or Partnership
In Massachusetts, you may open an independent practice or partner with another SLP to open a practice once you’re licensed.
SLPs who pursue independent practice have the freedom of setting their own schedule and taking on as many clients as they’d like to.
Pursue Job Openings
There are many, many other options in Massachusetts for licensed SLPs to pursue employment. Just a few of them include:
- Easter Seals Massachusetts
- Saint Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- Spaulding Hospital
- Health South
- University of Massachusetts Medical Schools
- Chelsea Jewish Foundation
- Barrett Family Wellness Center
- Life Care Centers
- Thom Child and Family Services
Step 5. Maintain Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Hours
You’ll need to renew your SLP license every two years. You’ll also need to complete 20 continuing education hours within those two years.
To renew, simply mail the application to the board.
The board does not offer approved education hours, so you may seek continuing education through the ASHA, the MSHA, or another professional organization in the state.
However, you must keep track of your hours, including:
- The title of the program
- The number of hours spent in the program
- The name of the organization which sponsored the program
- The date you completed the program.
The Massachusetts board will randomly audit SLP licensees every two years and require you to produce documentation of your continuing education credits.