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How to Become a Speech Therapist in New Mexico

New Mexico offers no shortage of opportunities for speech-language pathologists to serve patients with communication and swallowing disorders, whether you’re interested in working in the schools or prefer the idea of clinical practice. In fact, according to a 2015 report released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico has the second-highest concentration of SLP jobs of all the states in the country.

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In order to become a speech therapist by earning your SLP license through the New Mexico Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispensers Practices Board, follow the steps below:

 

Earn a Speech Therapist Degree: Complete an Accredited Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology
Begin a Clinical Fellowship Program
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 Speech Therapy Degree: Complete an Accredited Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology

You’ll need to earn your master’s degree or higher before becoming licensed as a speech-language pathologist. To apply to a master’s program, you’ll need:

  • GRE scores
  • A 3.0 or higher GPA
  • At least two academic references

If you don’t have a background in communicative sciences and disorders, you may need more references and volunteer experience to be accepted to a graduate program, and you’ll need to complete prerequisites.

Prerequisites usually include:

  • English Phonetics
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Human Communication
  • Intro to Audiology
  • Intro to Communication Sciences
  • Aural Rehabilitation Methods
  • Neural Basis of Communication
  • Pre-Clinical Training

If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, chances are that you’ve taken all the required prerequisites during your undergraduate study. You’ll be able to start taking your core courses, which will likely include:

  • Clinical Practice
  • Research Reading and Writing
  • Adult Neurogenic Communicative Disorders
  • Dysphagia Management and Treatment
  • Voice Disorders
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Augmentative Communication
  • Assessing language in children
  • Intervention: Child Language Disorders

Electives will focus on specific patient populations, current trends in speech-language pathology, awareness of legislative issues, or other specialized topics. They might include:

  • Multi-Cultural Considerations in Communication Disorders
  • Medical Speech-Language Pathology
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Cleft Palate Disorders
  • Craniofacial Disorders

You’ll also need to complete a practicum during your graduate program. Usually completed within your last year, you’ll shadow a licensed SLP in a clinic or hospital setting and learn how to complete clinical and diagnostic procedures.

 


 

Step 2. Begin a Clinical Fellowship Program

You’ll now enter into a transitional period known as a clinical fellowship. To become a clinical fellow, you’ll need to apply with the New Mexico board. The application will require you to complete a jurisprudence examination that consists of true/false questions about the rules and regulations that govern New Mexico SLPs.

If you need to prepare for the jurisprudence examination, you may review New Mexico’s rules and regulations which govern SLPs.

Along with the application, you’ll also need to submit:

  • $60 fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Clinical fellow plan completed by your clinical fellowship supervisor

Once you’re licensed, you may begin the clinical fellowship. You’ll generally fulfill this requirement by working 30 or more hours a week for nine months, but you might also choose to work part-time for as long as 12 months, as long as you work 15 hours or more a week.

You’ll need to complete certain activities, including assessing, monitoring, evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients. You’ll work with your supervisor to develop a plan for your clinical fellowship time and the skills you’ll need to learn.

You’ll need to be monitored in at least 36 different occasions, including working with patients, providing consultations to patients’ families, and providing evaluation of documentation such as case histories and treatment reports.

Once you’ve completed your clinical fellowship, you’ll be able to register for the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology.

 


 

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

You’ll need to pass the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) National Examination in Speech Language Pathology, hosted through Praxis, in order to become licensed.

You can register online for the exam.

The exam is made up of 132 questions and is computer-based. You’ll need to score at least a 162 out of 200 possible points in order to pass.

There are several Praxis test centers in New Mexico, located in:

  • Albuquerque
  • Farmington
  • Las Cruces
  • Roswell
  • Santa Fe

The test is split into three sections with 44 questions each. The sections are:

  • Foundations and Professional Practice
  • Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis
  • Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment

You’ll need to have a thorough knowledge of the following topics, which will be covered on the exam:

  • Wellness and prevention
  • Counseling, collaboration, and teaming in professional practice
  • Ethical practice
  • Legislation and client advocacy
  • Research methodology
  • Feeding and swallowing disorders
  • Voice, resonance and motor speech
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Social aspects of communication
  • Hearing
  • Genetic and developmental factors
  • Neurological issues
  • Auditory problems
  • Structural and functional handicaps

If you need extra preparation for the test, you might choose to review practice questions in the Praxis SLP Study Companion.

Once you’ve passed the exam, you have the choice to apply for the CCC-SLP credential by submitting an application directly to ASHA. You won’t need to earn the CCC-SLP credential to become licensed in New Mexico, but it may be helpful to you as you start your career, especially if you plan to practice independently.

 


 

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

At this point, you may apply for licensure through the New Mexico SLP board.

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

Please allow one-two weeks to hear back from the board. Once you’ve received your license, you may start your career in one of several ways:

Work Under Your Clinical Fellowship Supervisor

You may choose to pursue a job at the clinic where you completed your clinical fellowship. If you enjoyed working with the clinic’s staff and patients, contact your clinical fellowship supervisor to inquire about opportunities for a full-time position.

Open an Independent Practice or Partnership

You also may open an independent practice or start a partnership with another licensed SLP. An independent practice may be the right choice for you if you want to specialize in a specific patient population or if you wish to treat clients in their homes.

Pursue Job Openings in New Mexico

You’ll have no shortage of job opportunities in New Mexico. SLPs are needed in the school system, in hospitals, in clinics, and in home health care services all across the state. A few examples of potential employers include:

  • Children’s Medical Center
  • Cooperative Educational Services
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Presbyterian Medical Services
  • Mimbres Memorial Hospital
  • Rio Rancho Public Schools
  • Reliant Rehabilitation
  • Christus Health
  • VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region
  • Santa Fe Public Schools
  • New Vistas
  • Gentiva Health Services
  • Rio Rancho Center
  • MECA Therapies

 


 

Step 5. Renew Your License Annually and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

You’ll need to renew your license every year, and you’ll need to complete 20 continuing education credits every two years. You may also choose to complete all twenty continuing education hours in one year.

You’ll be able to renew your license online, and you’ll receive a mailed renewal notice at least 30 days before the renewal date, which is January 30th of each year.

Approved CE hours come from the New Mexico Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NMSHA) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), though you may appeal to the board if you feel that another provider is appropriate. You’ll need to mail a continuing education appeal form to the board if you’d like to pursue a continuing education course from a provider other than the NMSHA or the ASHA.

Your appeal form will explain who the provider is, give the provider’s resume and credentials, and include the date and time of the course offering.


Speech-Language Pathology Salary in New Mexico

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions considers the profession of speech-language pathology to have a “bright outlook statewide.” SLPs earn high salaries in the state and have promising job prospects.

Speech-language pathologists in the nonmetropolitan part of Eastern New Mexico earned the 4th highest average salary of SLPs in any rural part of the country as of 2015 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The median salary among speech-language pathologists in New Mexico was $74,120 according to the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions. Experienced SLPs earned an average salary of $95,980. The comparable hourly wages for these categories were $35.64 and $46.14.

Salaries for Speech-Language Pathologists in New Mexico’s Major Cities

Albuquerque:

  • Annual: $72,540 – $94,260
  • Hourly: $34.87 – $45.32

Farmington:

  • Annual: $60,080 – $66,670
  • Hourly: $28.89 – $32.06

Las Cruces:

  • Annual: $77,570 – $94,260
  • Hourly: $37.29 – $45.32

Extremely High Concentrations of SLP Jobs and Growth

The number of jobs for speech-language pathologists in New Mexico is expected to increase by 24.6% between 2014 and 2024. This rate of increase exceeds the national average for this profession. In fact, this rate of growth exceeds that for jobs overall in New Mexico by more than 3-fold.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that New Mexico boasted the 2nd highest concentration of jobs for SLPs in the country in 2015. Both urban and rural areas had high concentrations:

  • Nonmetropolitan Southwestern New Mexico: highest concentration of jobs of any rural area in the country
  • Las Cruces: 5th highest concentration of jobs of any city in the US

While schools are major employers of speech-language pathologists, outpatient clinics offer numerous opportunities. New Mexico contains a number of clinics that utilize SLPs:

Albuquerque:

  • Albuquerque Speech Language and Hearing Center
  • Chatterbox Speech Therapy
  • Christina Brown & Associates
  • Earley Palagi & Associates
  • Laurie Ross Brennan & Associates
  • Wendy Buckels Speech Therapy

Santa Fe:

  • Deborah Hayden, SLP
  • Joan Kessler, SLP
  • Learning Tree
  • Matthew T. Kelly, MA, CCC-SLP
  • Prompt Institute
  • Santa Fe Therapy Associates

Las Cruces:

  • Elizabeth M. Branch, MA
  • Judy T. Salamon, MA

Salaries for Speech-Language Pathologists in Urban and Rural New Mexico

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides highly detailed salary information for speech-language pathologists in the major cities and two rural areas of New Mexico:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albuquerque NM
560
78550
Farmington NM
50
59630
Las Cruces NM
180
83510
Eastern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area
160
90410
Southwestern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area
80
71350

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