Oregon is filled with opportunities for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to practice in clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, home health care, and even independent practices. In recent years, SLPs practicing in Oregon have expressed concern about the shortage of qualified SLPs working in Oregon’s school system, especially in rural school districts throughout the state. Because of this shortage, many children with communication handicaps are diagnosed late or not at all, and never receive the structured help that they need.
To combat this shortage of SLPs in the school system, the Oregon Department of Education began offering a Speech-Language Pathology Scholarship Program. Through the scholarship program, graduate SLP students receive scholarships in exchange for the agreement to work in a rural Oregon school district for at least two years after they graduate.
You’ll be able to take advantage of this scholarship program by choosing from three in-state schools that are accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation, or any number of accredited online programs available to students in the state.
Speech-language pathologists practicing in Oregon are connected through a vibrant network of dedicated practitioners. You might choose to connect with other SLPs through the Oregon Speech-Language & Hearing Association (OSHA), or the Oregon Speech Pathology Academy. Both organizations offer opportunities for practicing SLPs to earn continuing education requirements and network with other practitioners in the state.
Through the OSHA’s annual conference, you might learn about collaborative service delivery for school-based SLPs, partnering with parents to improve autism intervention, exploring telepractice, and teaching phonemic awareness. The Oregon Speech Pathology Academy, on the other hand, meets more frequently than the OSHA and offers 18-24 professional development hours per year.
You’ll earn your license from the Oregon Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Follow the steps in the guide below to begin your journey as an SLP in Oregon:
Step 1. Earn a Master’s Degree from a ASHA-Accredited Program
You’ll need to earn your graduate degree from a program accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Society. You’ll be able to choose from many online programs, and three in-state programs.
Whether online or traditional, SLP graduate programs only accept highly-qualified students. Admission departments look for:
- A GPA of at least 3.0
- GRE scores in the 30th percentile
- An undergraduate degree in SLP or volunteer hours in an SLP clinic
If you don’t have a background in SLP, you’ll need to complete prerequisite courses, often including:
- Speech Science
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech
- Audiology Fundamentals
- Language Development
- Neuroanatomy of Speech, Hearing, and Swallowing
- Introduction to Clinical Methods and Observation
After completing prerequisites, you’ll move into core coursework, which usually includes:
- Language Disorders in Children
- Speech Sound Disorders
- Seminar on Diversity
- Fluency Disorders
- Clinical Methods and Observation
- Communication and Aging
- Counseling Across the Lifespan
- School Age Language & Literacy Disorders
You’ll also be required to complete a variety of electives, which usually focus on specializations within SLP. They might include:
- Advanced Issues in Speech Sound Disorders
- Special Topics in Communication Disorders
- Motor Speech Disorders
- Research & Evidence Based Practice
- Acquired Brain Injury
- AAC and Severe Disabilities
- Progressive Neurological Communication Disorders
You’ll also need to complete a clinical practicum of at least 400 clock hours before graduating. Usually competed during your last year of study, the practicum will help you gain hands-on experience under the supervision of a licensed SLP. The first 25 hours of your practicum will be observational, as you shadow your supervisor. The next 375 will be made up of direct clinical interaction with patients.
You’ll also be required to complete a thesis or capstone project through your graduate program. The capstone usually focuses on an area of research within SLP.
Step 2. Apply for a Conditional License and Begin a 36-week Supervised Clinical Fellowship
Next, you’ll need to complete a clinical fellowship. The Oregon SLP board refers to this period as Supervised Clinical Experience.
You’ll need a conditional license in order to practice during your clinical fellowship. You can fill out the conditional license application, include your graduate transcript and Praxis exam scores, and mail it to the Oregon board at:
Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
800 NE Oregon St.
Portland, OR 97232
The supervised clinical experience will build off of the skills you learned during your practicum. You’ll perform clinical and diagnostic procedures, including screening, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. You’ll develop case histories and treatment plans with your supervisor and work with a variety of patient populations in order to gain experience with a diverse group of patients.
The Oregon SLP board requires that your supervisor hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP).
You’ll compete 1,260 hours for a minimum of 36 weeks of practice. You might also choose to work part-time (15 or more hours per week), but you’ll still need to complete 1,260 hours in total.
80% of the hours will need to be in direct client contact, while the other 20% may be made up of administrative duties, consulting with your supervisor or families of patients, or developing treatment plans.
At the end of your clinical fellowship, you’ll need to fill out the CF Rating and Report Form and mail it to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at:
2200 Research Boulevard #313
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Your conditional license will expire after a year, at which time you may apply for renewal if you haven’t completed your clinical fellowship.
Step 3. Pass the National SLP Exam and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential
Next, you’ll need to register for the National Examination in Speech Language Pathology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s qualifying exam.
To register, you’ll need to provide:
- Official graduate transcript
- Proof of completion of a graduate transcript
- Proof of completion of a clinical fellowship
The test is made up of 132 questions, and you’ll need to score 162 out of 200 possible points to pass.
The test will touch on foundational topics that you covered in your graduate courses as well as clinical, diagnostic, and screening procedures that you learned through your supervised clinical experience. These topics will include:
- Etiology of speech, including psychogenic and developmental factors
- Evaluating factors that can affect treatment
- Initiating and prioritizing treatment and developing goals
- Determining appropriate treatment details
- Generating a prognosis
- Communicating recommendations
- Establishing methods for monitoring treatment
- Typical development and performance across the lifespan
- Factors that influence communication, feeding, and swallowing
You may prepare for the exam by browsing the Praxis test preparation materials.
You can take the exam in any of the Praxis test centers located throughout Oregon, in the following cities:
- Forest Grove
- La Grande
You may elect to pursue the Certification of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential once you’ve passed the national exam. Offered through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the CCC-SLP is not required for licensure in Oregon, but is a highly respected, industry standard credential. You may apply through ASHA after you completed a graduate program and clinical fellowship and achieved passing scores on the national examination.
Step 4. Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist
After receiving your passing scores on the national exam, you’ll be able to apply for licensing through the Oregon SLP board.
You’ll need to fill out the license application and include:
- $329.50 licensing, application, and background check fee
- Official transcripts
- Evidence of completion of required post-graduate supervised clinical experience
- Praxis exam report
- A completed professional development form
- Approval for a fingerprint background check
You can mail the application and documents to the Oregon board at:
Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
800 NE Oregon St.
Portland, OR 97232
After receiving your license from the board, you may launch your career in one of three ways:
Join the Clinic that Provided Supervised Clinical Experience
You may contact your clinical fellowship supervisor to inquire about opportunities if you’re interested in working full time for the clinic that provided your supervised clinical experience.
Consider Opening an Independent Clinic
You might also consider opening an independent clinic or starting a partnership with another licensed SLP. This is a good way to reach specific patient populations, set a flexible schedule, or travel to clients who may not have access to transportation.
Pursue Job Opportunities in Oregon
You may also consider working in one of the many clinics, hospitals, or schools through Oregon that hire qualified SLPs. A few of these employers include:
- PPR Education Services
- Kaiser Permanente
- Oregon Health & Science University
- Salem Hospital
- Sensible Speech-Language Pathology
- Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center
- Infinity Rehab
- Forest Grove School District
- Life Care Centers
- Southern Oregon ESD
- Cumberland Therapy
- Halcyon Rehabilitation
Step 5. Renew Your License Every Two Years and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
To maintain current SLP licensure through the Oregon SLP board, you’ll need to renew your license every two years with proof of thirty clock hours of continuing education credits.
You’ll receive a renewal notice and application in the mail at least 30 days before your license expires. With the application, you’ll also be required to certify that you’ve completed thirty continuing education credits.
The board accepts continuing education credits hosted by the following organizations:
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Oregon Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Oregon Academy of Audiology
- Oregon Health Licensing Office
- The American Red Cross
- The American Heart Association
- Universities accredited by ASHA