How to Become a Speech Therapist in Montana

An excellent way to get involved in the SLP community in the state is through the Montana Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA), an organization which helps SLPs in the state learn about new therapeutic methods and become aware of legislative measures that will affect their practice. Through MSHA workshops and conferences, you might learn about the COMPASS model, optoacoustic emissions, creating effective functional behavior assessments for autistic students, coding procedures, and how you can help children with autism make an easier transition to adulthood.

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You’ll earn the license you need to become a speech-language pathologist through the Montana Board of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. You can start your journey to becoming a speech therapist in Montana by following these steps:

Earn an ASHA-accredited Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology
Complete a Supervised Postgraduate Clinical Experience
Pass the National SLP Exam and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential
Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Keep your License Current and Complete Continuing Education Requirements



Step 1. Earn an ASHA-accredited Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology

The first step to becoming a licensed SLP in Montana is earning your master’s degree. You must earn your degree from an institution accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Montana only offers one accredited institution in speech-language pathology, but you might also consider ASHA-accredited online options, which offer flexible curriculum and a greater variety of program options.

You’ll need to have proof of an excellent academic performance in order to be accepted to an SLP program. You’ll need to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, high GRE scores, and excellent academic references.

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, you will need to complete basic requisites. These include:

  • Basics of Communication Disorders
  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Science of Language
  • Aphasia and Neurocognitive Disorders
  • Clinical and Diagnostic Procedures

Core courses usually include:

  • Voice and Motor Speech Disorders
  • Language Learning Disorders
  • Advanced Clinical Procedures
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Swallowing and Fluency Disorders
  • Professional Issues in SLP

Electives may include the following topics:

  • Social Psychology in SLP
  • Current Topics in SLP
  • Treatment of Autistic Speech Patients
  • Pediatric Dysphasia
  • Public School SLP
  • Voice Disorders in Medical Settings

The Montana SLP board will require you to complete at least 25 hours of observation and then 400 clock hours of a practicum.



Step 2. Complete a Supervised Postgraduate Clinical Experience

You’ll need to complete 36-weeks of a clinical experience in order to become licensed in Montana. The clinical experience is a transitional period between the graduate program and your career as a speech-language pathologist.

In order to begin a clinical fellowship, you’ll need to have:

  • Current immunizations
  • HIPPA training
  • Current CPR certification
  • Background check
  • Proof of 25 observation hours

You’ll complete clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed Montana SLP.

The clinical fellowship must be a minimum of 36 weeks and 1,260 hours. Most of the clinical fellowship will be spent in shadowing and learning clinical procedures and interacting with patients.



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

Once you’ve completed your 36-week clinical fellowship, you’ll be able to register for the national exam through Praxis.

You may register online through Praxis.

You’ll need a 162 on a 100-200 scale to pass the test.

The test will cover:

  • Typical development and performance across the lifespan
  • Factors that influence communication
  • Epidemiology
  • Common communication/swallowing disorders
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Ethics
  • Legislation and client advocacy
  • Selecting appropriate assessment instruments
  • Assessing factors
  • Assessment of anatomy and physiology
  • Genetic and developmental factors
  • Diseases processes and auditory problems

You can review the study companion or take a practice exam if you’d like extra preparation.

You can take the exam in a Praxis test center in:

  • Billings
  • Bozeman
  • Great Falls
  • Havre
  • Helena
  • Missoula
  • Pablo

Once you’ve passed the national exam, you have the choice to apply for the Certification of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). You won’t need the CCC-SLP certification to become licensed in Montana, but it may help you in your employment endeavors. You’ll be able to apply for the certification through ASHA.



Step 4. Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist

Once you’ve successfully passed the national exam, you are eligible to apply for licensing in Montana.

You’ll need to submit:

  • License Application
  • Official graduate transcript
  • Application fee of $350.00
  • Proof of completion of a clinical fellowship
  • National exam scores

You’ll need to mail the forms to the board at:

The Board of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
301 South Park, 4th Floor
PO Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513

Now that you’re licensed, you may start your career as an SLP. There are several ways to begin your career:

Join the Clinic That Provided Postgraduate Clinical Experience

The clinic that provided your required professional experience may be interested in hiring you for a full-time position. Often, clinics advertise clinical fellowship-to-full-time positions in the interest of keeping clinical fellows on staff.

You may contact your clinical fellowship provider to inquire about opportunities.

Consider Starting an Independent Practice

You might wish to open an independent practice or a partnership if you’d like to manage your own schedule or pursue care of a specific patient population.

In Montana, you’re qualified to start a private practice and begin taking on clients.

Pursue Job Openings in Montana

There are many SLP employers in Montana, including:

  • Cabinet Peaks Medical Center
  • EDU Healthcare
  • Centra Healthcare Solutions
  • Vincent Healthcare
  • Peter’s Hospital
  • Kalispell Regional Medical Center
  • Innovative Rehabilitation
  • John’s Lutheran Hospital
  • Big Sky Special Needs Cooperative
  • Livingston Health Care
  • Central Montana Medical Center
  • Aureus Medical Group



Step 5. Keep your License Current and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

In Montana, you’ll need to complete 40 continuing education hours per 2-year renewal cycle, or 20 continuing education hours per year.

You can renew your license online for a $100.00 renewal fee.

You may complete continuing education through the ASHA, the MSHA, or other state or national organizations that deal with speech-language pathology. If you’ve completed continuing education through another entity, such as a workshop held at a local university or hospital, you may send a letter of request to the board for the credit to be counted as a continuing education credit. The letter of request must include:

  • The agenda
  • Brochure
  • Resume of presenters or providers of continuing education program

You can pursue continuing education through ASHA or the MSHA.

Speech-Language Pathology Salary in Montana

Speech-language pathologists in Montana with salaries in the top 10 percent earned an average of $92,400 ($44.42 hourly) as of 2015 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. SLPs in this category are typically those with the most experience. Montana’s SLPs earned an average of $66,040 ($31.75 hourly) that year.

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry expects the number of jobs for SLPs to increase by 15.1% between 2014 and 2024. This level of growth should result in a total of 106 new jobs for speech-language pathologists becoming available during this ten-year period.

Salaries for Speech-Language Pathologists in Montana’s Major Metro and Non-Metro Areas

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed analysis of the salaries for speech-language pathologists in Billings, Missoula, and two rural areas of Montana as of 2015:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Billings MT
Missoula MT
Southwest Montana nonmetropolitan area
West Montana nonmetropolitan area

A Career With High Pay and Substantial Job Satisfaction

The outlook for speech-language pathologists is so promising that the field is getting national attention.

US News & World Report noted the “spike” in pay for SLPs and reported that the average salary increased by nearly 7% between 2010 and 2014. The publication also rated the profession among the top 20 jobs in healthcare.

Forbes reported on an extensive survey of more than 2 million workers that asked if the respondents felt that their work made the world a better place. Based on the results, they included speech-language pathology on their list of the most meaningful career fields with strong salary offers.

Options for employment in the SLP field include public and social health services clinics, residential care facilities and nursing homes, as well as schools and hospitals. Private clinics also provide promising opportunities to speech-language therapists in Montana, some of the most respected of which include:

  • Belgrade: Mosaic Rehabilitation
  • Billings: Pediatric Therapy Clinic, Inc.
  • Billings: Riverstone Health Clinic
  • Billings: Rock Creek Teletherapy
  • Billings: Speech & Language Ability Center
  • Billings: Therapy Connections
  • Bozeman: Epicenter Therapy Services
  • Columbus: Daly Communication: Speech-Language Therapy
  • Great Falls: Hands of Hope Speech Therapy
  • Helena: Speech & Language Clinic
  • Helena: Speech Therapy Solutions Montana
  • Helena: Taylored Speech-Language Clinic
  • Lolo: A Matter of Communication, Inc.
  • Missoula: Above and Beyond Speech Therapy
  • Missoula: Integrated TherapyWorks

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