How to Become a Speech Therapist in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, speech-language pathologists have worked tirelessly to improve state legislation regulating the practice. Ever since the Rhode Island Board of Regents stopped funding speech-language pathology services as part of special education programs for children over the age of nine, SLPs in the state have taken up the fight themselves to improve access to those services.

Featured Programs:

To join the ranks of the dedicated SLPs practicing in Rhode Island, you’ll need to choose from one of the many online programs that are hosted by universities throughout the country or the traditional accredited program at the University of Rhode Island. Many speech-language pathology graduate students earn their clinical experience at the Southern New England Rehabilitation Center, a highly respected clinic in the state.

Many speech-language pathologists in Rhode Island choose to work with special needs populations, such as patients with autism. Through state organizations such as The Autism Project, you might be able to connect with like-minded speech-language pathologists who are interested in helping autistic patients learn to overcome communication handicaps.

You also might connect with other speech-language pathologists through the Rhode Island Speech-Language-Hearing Association (RISHA). The RISHA hosts continuing education opportunities, offering workshops, seminars, and annual conferences that have gone in depth on new approaches to treatment & assessment of dysphagia, the evaluation of adults with traumatic brain injuries, how to treat phonological disorders in children, or treatment strategies for preschoolers who stutter.

Review these steps to learn how to become a speech therapist by qualifying for your SLP license through the Rhode Island Speech Language Pathology and Audiology Board of Examiners:

Earn a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from an ASHA-Accredited Program
Obtain a Provisional License and Complete a Clinical Internship
Pass the National SLP Exam and Earn 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 from an ASHA-Accredited Program

You’ll need to choose a graduate program accredited by the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA). There are many online offerings, and one accredited in-state institution.

Online programs have the benefit of flexibility and a greater number of program options. In an online master’s program, you’ll complete coursework online through interactive problem modules, filmed lectures, and instructor-led discussions, while completing hands-on clinical experience in clinics close to home.

Whether online or traditional, speech-language pathology graduate programs only admit students who have proven their dedication to the field of speech-language pathology. Admission departments usually look for:

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

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree related to communicative science and disorders, you’ll need to complete prerequisite courses that include:

  • Intro to Clinical Methods
  • Neuroanatomy of Speech
  • Intro to Audiology
  • Language Development Across the Lifespan
  • Speech Science
  • Anatomy & Physiology of Speech

Some graduate programs offer bridge courses that can be taken prior to graduate-level coursework.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in the field, you’ll be able to start core coursework directly. You’ll study the following topics:

  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Communicative Disorders
  • Research in Communicative Disorders
  • Audiology for Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Voice Disorders
  • Phonological Disorders
  • Language Disorders in School-Aged Children
  • Tests and Measurement in Speech Pathology
  • Dysphagia
  • Disorders of Fluency
  • Language Disorders in Developmentally Young Children

You’ll also need to complete elective courses through your program. Topics might include:

  • Special Problems in SLP
  • Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Language Disorders in Infants and Toddlers
  • Medical Speech-Language Pathology
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Multisensory Instruction in Language and Literacy
  • Counseling in Communicative Disorders
  • Instrumentation and Computer Use in Communicative Disorders

In your last year of study, you’ll complete a clinical practicum of at least 400 clock hours. You’ll begin by completing 25 hours of shadowing and clinical observation, while the rest of the practicum will be spent in direct client contact under supervision.

Through your practicum, you’ll:

  • Screen and assess clients
  • Diagnose and treat clients
  • Gain experience working with a variety of patient populations
  • Complete administrative tasks such as developing case histories



Step 2. Obtain a Provisional License and Complete a Clinical Internship

After graduating, you’ll need to obtain a provisional license through the board. You’ll need to print and fill out the provisional license application. With the application, you’ll include:

  • $65 application fee
  • Official graduate transcript
  • Documentation of practicum hours

You’ll need to mail the application to:

Rhode Island Department of Health
Board of Examiners of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Room 104
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097

It usually takes one-two weeks to hear back from the board, at which time you may begin your clinical internship. Your provisional license will need to be renewed annually, and will expire 90 days after your clinical internship.

You may seek a clinical internship through your university’s program director or look for opportunities online.

During your clinical internship, you’ll gain experience working with children, adults, and special needs patients who suffer from a variety of disorders. You’ll complete supervised activities assessing, screening, evaluating, diagnosing, rehabilitating and habilitating patients using treatment plans you develop with your supervisor.

The internship must consist of a minimum of 1,026 hours. At the end of the clinical internship, you’ll need to fill out the Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form with your supervisor and mail it to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at:

2200 Research Boulevard #313
Rockville, Maryland 20850



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

Once you’ve completed your clinical internship, you’ll need to register for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s National Examination in Speech and Language Pathology.

To register, you’ll need to provide proof of completion of a clinical practicum, completion of a clinical internship, and completion of a graduate program.

The Speech-Language Pathology Study Companion offers a breakdown of the test’s topics and practice questions.

You’ll need to score a 162 on a 100-200 scale to pass. The exam is split into three sections:

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

Within these sections, you’ll answer questions on the following topics:

  • Speech sound production
  • Fluency
  • Voice, resonance, and motor speech
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Social aspects of communication, including pragmatics
  • Cognitive aspects of communication
  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Hearing
  • Feeding and swallowing

You’ll be able to take the exam in a Praxis test center in one of Rhode Island’s following cities:

  • Cumberland
  • Providence
  • Warwick

Once you’ve passed the exam, you’ll need to earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

You’ll need to fill out the Application for the CCC-SLP and submit it with an official graduate transcript. The application will require you to have your clinical practicum director sign and verify that you completed a clinical practicum through your graduate program. You’ll also need to submit:

You can mail the application and supporting documents to:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #313
Rockville, Maryland 20850

It usually takes about six weeks to hear back from ASHA about your application. Once certified, you can move on to the next step.



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

You’re eligible to apply for licensing after passing the Praxis exam and receiving your CCC-SLP credential.

You’ll need to fill out the application and include:

  • $145 fee
  • Recent passport photograph
  • Official transcript sent from your university
  • Certification sent from the ASHA

You can mail the application to the board at:

Rhode Island Department of Health
Board of Examiners of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Room 104
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097

Now that you’re licensed, you may begin your career. There are several ways to do so:

Join the Clinic Where You Completed Your Clinical Internship

The clinic where you completed your clinical internship may be interested in hiring you to fill a full-time role. This is a great option when beginning your career, because the clinic already has experience with your work.

Consider Starting an Independent Practice or Partnership

You may also open an independent practice if you’re interested in going into business for yourself or reaping the benefits of a flexible schedule. You might also consider partnering with another SLP to start a small practice.

Pursue Job Opportunities

From schools to clinics to hospitals, Rhode Island is full of opportunities for SLPs. A few employers include:

  • CBS Therapy
  • Barrington Public Schools
  • Evergreen Rehabilitation
  • Westerly Public Schools
  • Lifespan
  • Elderwood
  • Fusion Therapy Solutions
  • Pioneer Healthcare Services
  • Heritage Healthcare
  • Perspectives Corporation
  • Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center
  • Jamestown School Department
  • Meeting Street
  • Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island
  • Host Healthcare



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

You’ll need to renew your license online every two years and complete 30 clock hours of continuing education during the renewal period.

The Rhode Island SLP board accepts continuing education credits approved by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in the form of conferences, conventions, seminars, academic courses, and webinars.

You’ll need to document your continuing education hours by obtaining a letter or certificate of completion signed by the instructor of the course for each credit you participate in.

Speech-Language Pathology Salary in Rhode Island

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a high level of detail on the annual salaries and hourly wages for speech-language pathologists in the Providence area of 2015:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Providence-Warwick RI-MA

A Growing Field in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training expects the number of jobs for speech-language pathologists to increase by 9.1% between 2014 and 2024—a rate faster than that of occupations on average in the state. This level of growth should result in an average of 161 jobs becoming available each year during the period of these predictions.

SLPs in Rhode Island have a number of options available to them ranging from schools to health-care providers. Outpatient clinics that feature the services of speech-language pathologists include:

  • Cranston: CBS Therapy
  • Cranston: ChatterMatters Speech and Language Services, LLC
  • East Greenwich: Sargent Rehabilitation Center
  • Lincoln: Laurie J. Mckinnon, MS
  • Middletown: Crystal Sargent Speech
  • Providence: Jennifer E Lobley
  • Providence: Michele Fava
  • Providnece: Paul W. Austin
  • Providence: Small Steps Therapy

Skilled nursing facilities also require SLPs to provide care for older adults with speech and/or swallowing problems:

  • Cumberland: Seven Hills Rhode Island
  • Johnston: Briarcliffe Manor Nursing Home
  • Pascoag: Jolly Rest Home
  • Pawtucket: A Better Day Assisted Living
  • Pawtucket: Darltington Assisted Living Center
  • Providence: Berkshire Place Nursing Home
  • Warwick: Pawtuxet Village Care & Rehab
  • Woonsocket: Wyndemere Woods

Salaries for SLPs in Rhode Island and Its Major Cities

The median salary among speech-language pathologists in Rhode Island exceeded that nationally by more than 5% in 2015 according to the state’s Department of Labor and Training. In addition, the median salary among Rhode Island’s SLPs was higher than that in most other states in New England including New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Experienced speech-language pathologists in Rhode Island earned an average salary of $89,544 ($43.05 hourly) as of 2015. The median salary among the state’s SLPs was $77,272 (37.15 hourly).

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training also provides comparable salary information for the two largest metropolitan areas in the state:

Providence-Fall River-Warwick:

  • Annual: $77,293 – $91,042
  • Hourly: $37.16 – $43.77

Norwich-New London:

  • Annual: $84,968 – $100,110
  • Hourly: $40.85 – $48.13

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