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How to Become a Speech Therapist in Pennsylvania

Through a career in speech-language pathology, you’ll be able to help patients with communication handicaps through speech therapy programs located in schools, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals.

The first step towards speech-language pathology licensure is earning a master’s degree. You’ll need to earn your degree from a school accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation, the accrediting arm of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). There are a growing number of accredited online options, and you’ll also be able to choose from 15 in-state options.

Featured Programs:

Through your graduate program, you’ll gain experience in speech-language pathology clinics as well as the classroom. You’ll also be able to pursue opportunities such as studying abroad and gaining volunteer experience through summer camps and workshops for speech therapy patients. You might connect to SLPs in the state, job opportunities, and continuing education offerings through state organizations such as the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association (PSHA).

Through your graduate program, you may be able to work with experienced SLPs in Pennsylvania. Some notable SLPs include Lisa Hammett Price, who has published a book discussing how reading aloud and initiating conversations about reading can help develop proper language in young children and Joann Migyanka, who has worked to improve the emergency room experience for people with autism by increasing practitioners’ awareness on how to speak with individuals with autism..

You’ll qualify to become a speech therapist by meeting SLP license requirements through the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Start your journey towards SLP licensure by following the steps in the guide below:

Earn a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from an ASHA-Accredited Program
Complete a Year of Supervised Professional Experience (YSPE)
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

To be accepted into a master’s program, you’ll need to be prepared with:

  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • GRE scores in the 30th percentile
  • Academic references

You won’t need a background in speech-language pathology to apply—you’ll just need to complete fundamental prerequisites before beginning core coursework if you haven’t earned a bachelor’s degree in SLP.

You’ll be able to choose from a variety of programs accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. There are many accredited online programs and fifteen in-state programs to choose from.

Prerequisites usually include:

  • Phonetics
  • Speech Science
  • Anatomy & Physiology of Speech, Hearing, and Swallowing
  • Language Development
  • Intro to Communication Disorders
  • Intro to Audiology and Hearing Science
  • Neuroanatomy of Speech, Hearing, and Swallowing

After completing prerequisites, you’ll move into core coursework. Core coursework will cover the following topics:

  • Aphasia
  • Language Disorders in Preschool Children
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Disorders of Phonology and Articulation
  • Professional Issues in Speech-Language Pathology
  • Voice Disorders
  • Language Disorders in School-aged Children

You’ll also be required to complete a number of electives. If you wish to specialize in a certain patient population or disorder, electives will help you narrow your focus. Topics might include:

  • Craniofacial Disorders
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Cognitive Based Language Disorders
  • Augmentative Communication
  • Clinical Instrumentation in Speech Pathology
  • Swallowing: Anatomy, Physiology, and Disorders
  • Research in Speech and Language Pathology

You’ll also need to complete a clinical practicum before graduating. The practicum must be at least 375 hours. You’ll also need a minimum of 50 clock hours in at least two distinctly different clinical environments.

You’ll begin by shadowing a supervisor and move into performing activities on your own. At least half of your diagnostic evaluations will be supervised, and at least 25% of treatment, instruction, and counseling will be performed under supervision.

You’ll need to gain approval for diagnostic conclusions, initiating treatment, and recommending the use of treatment methods.

To ensure that you treat a variety of patient populations and gain experience treating different disorders, you’ll be required to gain experience in the following areas:

  • Working with children
  • Working with adults
  • Patients with disorders of articulation, voice, and fluency
  • Audiology

 


 

Step 2. Complete a Year of Supervised Professional Experience (YSPE)

Next, you’ll complete a year of supervised professional experience (YSPE), which will include 1,080 hours of clinical experience.

Your university program should be able to help you find a clinic where you can complete the YSPE, but if you’d like to seek out clinical fellowships in your area, you may browse online.

You’ll work under supervision during the YSPE. 80% of each week must be spent in direct client contact, which might include assessment, diagnosis, evaluation, rehabilitation, or habilitation activities.

You will conduct screening of clients, but it must be no more than 50% of your time. You’ll also meet with your supervisor at least once a month to discuss the activities you’ve completed.

After completing your clinical fellowship hours, you’ll need to fill out the Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form and mail it to:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #313
Rockville, Maryland 208550

 


 

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

Once you’ve completed your clinical fellowship, you’ll need to begin preparing for the American Speech-Language-Pathology Association’s National Speech Language Pathology Examination. You’ll need to pass the exam with a score of 162 or higher in order to become licensed.

You may register for the exam online.

The test will cover the following topics:

  • Foundations and professional practice
  • Development and performance across the lifespan
  • Factors that influence communication, feeding, and swallowing
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Documentation, legislation and client advocacy
  • Developing case histories
  • Assessing factors that influence communication and swallowing disorders
  • Assessment of anatomy and physiology
  • Speech sound production
  • Fluency
  • Voice, resonance, and motor speech
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Social aspects of communication, including pragmatics
  • Etiology, including genetic, developmental, and neurological factors

It’s a good idea to use Praxis test preparation materials to prepare. The study companion offers practice questions and a break-down of the test’s topics, and you may also choose to take an interactive practice exam.

You’ll be able to take the exam in one of the following cities in Pennsylvania:

  • Allentown
  • Bethlehem
  • Bloomsburg
  • Clarks Summit
  • Conshohocken
  • East Stroudsburg
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • Hawley
  • Hazleton
  • Immaculata
  • Indiana
  • Lancaster
  • Lock Haven
  • Meadville
  • Media
  • Millersville
  • Monroeville
  • Oil City
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Slippery Rock
  • West Chester
  • York

After successfully completing the exam you may choose to apply for the Certification of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential. Offered through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the CCC-SLP is not required for licensure in Pennsylvania, but is a strong credential to show prospective employers and clients. You would apply through ASHA directly, furnishing proof that you completed a graduate program and clinical fellowship as well as passing scores on the national examination.

 


 

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

You’ll be able to apply for licensing through the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology once you’ve received a passing score on the national exam. You’ll be able to apply online for your license.

Through the application process, you will need to include:

  • An official graduate transcript
  • Proof of completion of a clinical practicum
  • Passing scores on the Praxis exam
  • CF Report and Rating Form

Now that you’re licensed, you may start your career. There are several ways to get started:

Join the Clinic that Provided your Year of Supervised Professional Experience (YSPE)

The clinic that provided your YSPE may be interested in hiring you to fill a full-time position. You may contact your YSPE supervisor to inquire about opportunities. Often, clinics prefer to hire SLPs who already have experience in their clinic and have developed good relationships with their staff and patients.

Start an Independent Practice

You may also practice independently if you wish to do so. Some SLPs choose to practice independently because of the benefits of setting your own schedule and taking on as many clients as you feel comfortable with.

Pursue Job Opportunities in Pennsylvania

The options for SLP employment in Pennsylvania are numerous. They span positions at hospitals, clinics, schools, home health care services, and rehabilitation centers. A few of Pennsylvania’s SLP employers include:

  • Progress Therapy, LLC
  • Fox Rehabilitation
  • HCR ManorCare
  • Evergreen Rehabilitation
  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America
  • Temple University Health System
  • Tender Touch Rehab Services
  • Accomplish Therapy
  • Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals
  • TALK Institute and School
  • CCI Rehab Services
  • Invo Healthcare Associates
  • Dynamicare Therapy

 


 

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

Your license will expire on July 31st of every other year. You’ll receive a notice reminding you to renew, which you can do through the board’s online system.

You’ll also need to complete twenty hours of continuing education every two years, or ten credits every year.

The continuing education credits must be completed through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or an ASHA-approved entity, including ASHA-accredited universities in Pennsylvania.

You’ll need to be sure to keep documentation of your continuing education credits, which might include flyers, brochures, or a letter or certificate of completion signed by the program’s instructor. You won’t need to send these to the board each renewal period, but the board will periodically audit licensed SLPs to ensure completion of continuing education credits.


Speech-Language Pathology Salary in Pennsylvania

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a highly detailed analysis of the wages for speech-language pathologists in the major cities of Pennsylvania as of 2015:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
450
91960
Altoona PA
90
77050
Bloomsburg-Berwick PA
50
81910
Chambersburg-Waynesboro PA
40
80870
East Stroudsburg PA
30
81050
Erie PA
120
75220
Harrisburg-Carlisle PA
270
70870
Johnstown PA
60
58250
Lancaster PA
140
73500
Lebanon PA
40
82100
Montgomery County-Bucks County-Chester County PA Metropolitan Division
860
79690
Philadelphia PA Metropolitan Division
500
84830
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD
2560
78950
Pittsburgh PA
1190
72840
Reading PA
190
70270
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton PA
250
68690
Williamsport PA
50
67270
York-Hanover PA
180
82660
Western Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area
220
70130
Northern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area
220
67890
Southern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area
180
65610

Rapid Job Growth for Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry estimates the number of jobs for SLPs will increase by 17.9% between 2014 and 2024. This rate of growth is more than 3-fold greater than that the average increase in the number of jobs in Pennsylvania. This level of growth should result in 215 jobs becoming available each year on average during the time frame of these projections.

One of the many sources of employment for speech-language pathologists is private clinics that feature the services of these professionals. Such clinics are found throughout Pennsylvania:

  • Bala Cynwyd: Kutest Kids Early Intervention
  • Beaver Falls: Talktime Speech Therapy
  • Carlisle: Draavery Physical Therapy Institute: Nichole J Reynolds
  • Cranberry Township: Talktime Speech Therapy
  • East stroudsburg: Speech & Hearing Clinic
  • Philadelphia: Jill Fedlbaum, SLP
  • Pittsburgh: Bethany Anke, SLP
  • Pittsburgh: Crossroads Speech & Hearing
  • Pittsburgh: Nathan Speech Services
  • West Chester: EBS Healthcare

Speech-Language Pathology Salaries in Pennsylvania and Its Most Populated Counties

Experienced SLPs in Pennsylvania earned an average salary of $88,950 ($42.76 hourly) as of 2015 according to the state’s Department of Labor and Industry. On average, the state’s speech-language pathologists earned $76,700 ($36,87 hourly).

The salaries for SLPs in the 10 most populated counties of Pennsylvania are shown below. Speech-language pathologists in Delaware County earned exceptionally high salaries:

Allegheny County:

  • Annual: $74,740 – $86,680
  • Hourly: $35.93 – $41.67

Berk County:

  • Annual: $70,270 – $78,750
  • Hourly: $33.79 – $37.86

Bucks County:

  • Annual: $81,050 – $93,410
  • Hourly: $38.97 – $44.91

Delaware County:

  • Annual: $94,570 – $109,880
  • Hourly: $45.47 – $52.83

Chester County:

  • Annual: $70,900 – $79,180
  • Hourly: $34.09 – $38.07

Lancaster County:

  • Annual: $73,500 – $82,880
  • Hourly: $35.34 – $39.85

Montgomery County:

  • Annual: $85,020 -$99,110
  • Hourly: $40.87 – $47.65

Philadelphia County:

  • Annual: $80,100 – $92,570
  • Hourly: $38.51 – $44.50

Westmoreland:

  • Annual: $78,380 – $86,560
  • Hourly: $37.68 – $41.61

York County:

  • Annual: $82,660 – $93,990
  • Hourly: $39.74 – $45.19

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