How to Become a Speech Therapist in New Jersey

As a speech-language pathologist, you will be able to cater to various populations who experience communication handicaps. You might choose to work specifically with children, patients on the autistic spectrum, or patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries—but regardless of your specialization, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities in New Jersey. In fact, New Jersey is among the top five states in the nation with the highest concentration of licensed speech-language pathologists (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to pursue speech-language pathology education in-state. There are six universities in New Hampshire that are accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and offer graduate programs in speech-language pathology.

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Your career in speech-language pathology will draw from the clinical advances of exemplary SLPs in New Jersey and build on the research these SLPs have conducted. Some of these professionals include Donna Spillman-Kennedy and Christina Z. Luna, who opened Integrated Speech Pathology, a clinic that strives to not only serve the patients of the community but to build awareness about communication disorders in the general public. Another notable New Jersey SLP is Sue A. Goldman, who has worked with public educators to help them infuse speech therapy strategies into their regular classroom approach.

The New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) provides professional continuing education opportunities such as an annual convention, conferences, webinars, and courses, as well as keeping members updated on the legislative issues in New Jersey that will influence SLP practice. Through continuing education offerings, you might learn about HIPPA and FERPA compliance in a clinical setting, incorporating technology into your therapeutic routine, and the process of treating autistic patients.

Follow the step-by-step guide below to learn how to become a licensed speech therapist through the New Jersey Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee:

Earn a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from an ASHA-Accredited Program
Apply for a Temporary License and Complete a Clinical Internship
Pass the National SLP Exam and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential
Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Renew Your License Every Two Years and Complete Continuing Education Requirements



Step 1. Earn a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from an ASHA-Accredited Program

You’ll need to earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology before becoming licensed in New Jersey.

You’ll be required to select a program from a school accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association—there are six accredited institutions offered in New Hampshire. While there are benefits to staying in-state, such as reduced tuition for state residents, you might also consider accredited online options if none of the in-state programs are right for you.

Online programs offer flexibility and the ability to complete your curriculum around a professional schedule. Both online and traditional programs will require you to gain hands-on experience with speech patients in a clinical setting, and you can complete the hours in a clinic near you.

Most SLP graduate programs are highly selective, so you’ll need to be prepared to apply with:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • High GRE scores
  • A statement of purpose explaining why you want to pursue the speech-language pathology field
  • At least two letters of reference from academic sources
  • A resume of your past experience in the SLP field (this may include volunteer hours in speech clinics or employment in a related field)

If your bachelor’s degree is not in communication sciences and disorders, you’ll need to complete prerequisites before beginning graduate coursework. The prerequisite courses will lay the groundwork for your core study, introducing you to the biological, physiological, and linguistic components of communication disorders. They usually include:

  • Introduction to Language Development
  • Introduction to Phonetics
  • Introduction to Communication Disorders
  • Neurological Bases of Communication
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing Science
  • Science of Language

Core courses will move into more advanced topics within speech-language pathology:

  • Clinical Methods in SLP
  • Disorders of Phonology and Articulation
  • Aphasia and Other Neurological Disorders of Speech and Language
  • Language Disorders in Children
  • Speech-Language Pathology in the School Setting
  • Contemporary Issues in Speech-Language Pathology
  • Disorders of Fluency
  • Disorders of Voice
  • Augmentative/Alternative Communication
  • Assessment Procedures
  • Advanced Diagnostics in SLP

Electives will often focus on serving a specific population or a more specific topic within the field, such as:

  • Accent Modification
  • Speech-Language Pathology in a Healthcare Setting
  • Communication in Infancy
  • Craniofacial Disorders and Syndromes
  • Cognitive-Linguistic Impairments
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Assessment and Rehabilitation for Hearing Loss Patients
  • Counseling in SLP
  • Laryngectomy Rehabilitation
  • Auditory Processing Dysfunctions
  • Pediatric Dysphagia
  • Communication in Aging

You’ll also complete a clinical practicum near the end of your degree program. You’ll begin by shadowing a licensed SLP in a clinical setting, learning clinical and diagnostic procedures, and assessing and evaluating patients. Next, you’ll begin to complete activities on your own, under supervision. Over the course of your practicum you’ll be expected to learn how to properly assess, evaluate, diagnose, and develop treatment plans for patients.



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Step 2. Apply for a Temporary License and Complete a Clinical Internship

Once you’ve graduated and earned your master’s degree, you’ll move into a transitional time known as a clinical internship. The clinical internship is required before you become fully licensed to ensure that you’ve completed all the activities you’ll need to conduct as a speech-language pathologist.

You’ll need a temporary license to practice during your clinical internship. You can apply for it through the New Hampshire advisory board.

You’ll need to prepare the following:

  • Temporary License Application
  • $125.00 fee
  • Passport photo of yourself
  • Official graduate transcript
  • Certification for a criminal background check (included in the application)
  • Supervision plan completed by your clinical internship supervisor

You can mail the application and documents to the board at:

New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee
124 Halsey Street, 6th Floor, P.O. Box 45002
Newark, NJ 07101

You should hear back from the board within two weeks, at which point you may begin your clinical internship.

Your clinical internship will include consultations with patients and patients’ families, diagnosis of communication disorders, the development of treatment plans, and carrying out therapeutic measures with patients. It may also involve recordkeeping or administrative tasks.

You’ll have several options for how to choose to work your clinical internship. You may:

  • Work full-time: 30 hours a week for nine months
  • Work 15-19 hours a week for 18 months
  • Work 20-24 hours a week for 15 months
  • Work 25-29 hours a week for 12 months

You’ll need to be directly supervised by a licensed SLP who holds the CCC-SLP credential from ASHA.

Your temporary license will expire when your clinical internship is completed.



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

After completing a clinical internship, you’re eligible to register for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology, held through Praxis.

You can register for the test online, and you’ll need to provide:

Once you register, you may choose to prepare for the test through the Praxis study companion or take an interactive practice test through Praxis.

You’ll need to score at least 162 to pass, on a 100-200 scale.

You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of the foundations of professional practice, how to screen, assess, evaluate and diagnose patients with different communication handicaps, and how to plan and implement treatment and evaluate its effectiveness. You’ll also need to be familiar with:

  • Typical development and performance across the lifespan
  • Communication, feeding and swallowing processes
  • Epidemiology
  • Etiology
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Early intervention
  • Culturally/linguistically appropriate treatment
  • Documentation and recordkeeping
  • Developing case histories
  • Assessment factors
  • Speech sound production
  • Fluency
  • Voice, resonance, and motor speech
  • Augmentative/alternative communication

You can take the exam in one of the following cities’ Praxis exam center:

  • Absecon
  • Clark
  • Ewing
  • Fair Lawn
  • Hamilton Township
  • Laurel Springs
  • Lawrenceville
  • Lincroft
  • Lyndhurst
  • Mount Laurel
  • Newton
  • Pemberton
  • Scotch Plains
  • Union City

You should receive your test scores back within a few weeks. Now that you’ve received your passing score, you’re eligible to apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). You won’t need to receive the credential to become licensed in New Jersey, and you always have the option of pursuing the credential later in your career. However, if you wish to supervise up-and-coming SLPs who are completing their clinical internships, you’ll need the credential.

You can apply for the CCC-SLP through ASHA by furnishing proof of passing Praxis exam scores, proof of completion of a clinical fellowship, and an official graduate transcript.



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

You’re now eligible to apply for licensure as a speech-language pathologist.

You’ll need to fill out the application and submit it to the board with:

  • Praxis examination scores
  • Official graduate transcript

You can mail your application to the board at:

New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee
124 Halsey Street, 6th Floor, PO Box 45002
Newark, NJ 07101

You’ll also need to complete the Jurisprudence Orientation online to ensure that you’re aware of the legal requirements and restrictions of SLPs in New Jersey. The test consists of 25 true/false questions.

Allow one-two weeks to hear back from the board and be issued your license. Now that you’re licensed, you may begin practicing. You have several options on how to begin your career:

Join the Clinic Where You Completed Your Clinical Internship

Your clinical fellowship supervisor may be interested in hiring you for a full-time position. There are benefits to working for a clinic you’ve already had experience with, and clinics often prefer to hire SLPs who have completed clinical experience with them. You may contact your clinical fellowship supervisor if you’re interested in taking this route.

Open an Independent Speech-Language Therapy Practice

Once licensed, you may also open your open practice or start a partnership. You’ll be able to set your own hours, build a flexible schedule, or pursue a specific patient population.

Pursue Job Openings in New Jersey

You’ll also be able to pursue many opportunities in different clinics and hospitals throughout the state. From school systems to home health to rehabilitation centers, SLPs are needed in a variety of healthcare locations. Some of these include:

  • Fox Rehabilitation
  • Innovative Therapy Group
  • Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey
  • Children’s Specialized Hospital
  • Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
  • Institute for Behavioral Health
  • Therapeutic Outreach
  • Atlantic Health System
  • Hackensack UMC Mountainside
  • Stern Rehab
  • Brookdale
  • Sunny Days Childhood Developmental Services
  • Good Talking People
  • Pediatric Therapy Office
  • Progressive Steps
  • Meridian Health
  • Nyman Associates, Inc.



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Step 5. Renew Your License Every Two Years and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

You’ll need to renew your license every two years to maintain licensure in New Jersey. You can renew your license by completing the jurisprudence examination.

You’ll also need to complete 20 hours of continuing education each renewal period.

You can pursue continuing education through the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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