The speech-language pathology community in South Carolina has been steadily growing over the past decade, and the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a core part of the growing community, even in the face of tragedy.
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One of their members, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, passed away in the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on July 2015. In the wake of her passing, the Association put together the Sharonda Coleman-Singleton Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to undergraduate and graduate students who exemplify Coleman-Singleton’s greatest qualities, like leadership among peers and local community involvement.
The Scholarship represents a somber note in an otherwise vibrant profession in South Carolina. The Association supports local professionals in a wide variety of ways, including support of new speech-language pathologists (SLPs). This is important as the profession continues to grow.
SC Works (South Carolina’s workforce development database) projects a 19.3 percent increase in the number of speech-language pathologists in South Carolina in the years leading up to 2024.
To become a speech therapist in South Carolina, you’ll need to become familiar with Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Meeting state licensing requirements involves earning a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from an ASHA-accredited university, completing 9 months of supervised professional employment, and passing the national SLP exam.
Follow these steps to become a licensed speech-language pathologist in South Carolina:
Step 1. Earn a Speech Therapist Degree: Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
The Board requires candidates for SLP licensure to hold a master’s degree at minimum in speech-language pathology or communication sciences and disorders from a university accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).
In addition to traditional, campus-based programs, the CAA accredits many online SLP programs, which are a great option for adults with family commitments, full-time professional schedules, or other scheduling conflicts.
Many graduate programs do not require incoming students to have a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology or communicate sciences and disorders. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, you would be given the opportunity to take prerequisite courses online at the beginning of your program to give you the proper foundation for graduate work in the SLP field of study.
Undergraduate requirements that must be met before going on to graduate courses often include 14-18 credits in:
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech Mechanism
- Language Acquisition
- Introduction to Communication Disorders
- Diagnostic Audiology
- Aural Rehabilitation
Graduate Courses and Clinical Practicum
Some of the topics you can expect to cover in an SLP master’s degree program include:
- Articulation Disorders
- Child Language Disorders
- Disorders of Phonation
- Speech and Hearing Science
- Communication Problems in Aging
Part of your master’s program will involve completing a clinical practicum of at least 400 hours under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.
There are three CAA-accredited master’s programs in speech-language pathology located in South Carolina for that prefer a campus-based learning experience:
- Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology at South Carolina State University
- Master of Speech Pathology at University of South Carolina
- Master of Communication Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology at University of South Carolina
Step 2. Complete a Clinical Fellowship Through Supervised Professional Employment (SPE)
You must complete at least 9 months of supervised professional employment (SPE)—clinical fellowship—following graduation from a master’s degree program. You will work under a licensed speech-language pathologist during this time, meeting one of the following work requirements:
- 30 hours a week for 9 months
- 25-29 hours a week for 12 months
- 20-24 hours a week for 15 months
- 15-19 hours a week for 18 months
- Working less than 15 hours a week will not count towards the total
A clinical fellowship is a paid period designed to give you an immersive clinical experience in the kind of practice setting and area of specialized focus that is of most interest to you. Take your time finding a sponsor, as this opportunity could lead to full time employment after you become licensed.
Among the many employers in South Carolina that may sponsor a clinical fellowship include:
- Carolina Speech and Language, Summerville
- Palmetto Speech and Language Services, Ridgeland
- Bright Start South Carolina, Greenville and Columbia
- Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg
Before beginning your SPE, you must first apply for an intern license with the Board by filling out the Application for Speech Intern License and submitting proof of the completion of your graduate program. The intern license is valid for 12 months, and you can renew it once.
During your SPE, you’ll be getting hands-on experience as a speech-language pathologist. ASHA has written an SLP Scope of Practice that outlines the tasks of an SLP and the decision-making process they go through. You’ll be practicing administration and leadership skills, prevention and wellness recommendations, and treatment procedures.
At the end of your SPE, be sure to fill out the SLP Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form.
Step 3. Pass the Praxis SLP Exam
After completing your clinical fellowship, you can take the national SLP exam, administered by Praxis. Passing the SLP exam is the last step in the licensing process to become an SLP in South Carolina.
To take the exam, you first need to register. Follow the instructions on the registration page. You can find test centers in:
- Rock Hill
The exam is 132 questions long, and there’s a 150-minute limit. You can review the study materials Praxis has developed for this exam. Here are some of the topics covered on the exam:
- Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
- Typical development and performance across the lifespan
- Factors that influence communication, feeding, and swallowing
- Characteristics of common communication and swallowing disorders
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate service delivery
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
- Screening for communication, feeding, and swallowing disorders
- Developing case histories
- Assessing factors that influence communication and swallowing disorders
- Assessing speech sound production and fluency issues
- Social aspects of communication
- Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
- Evaluating factors that can affect treatment
- Determining appropriate treatment details
- Establishing methods for monitoring treatment progress
- Treatment of communication, feeding, and swallowing disorders
To pass the exam, you need to score 162 on a scale of 100-200.
Optional CCC-SLP National Certification
With a passing score, you can also apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), a voluntary national certification. You must complete the Application for the CCC-SLP and submit it with a transcript from your graduate program, your passing test scores, and the Clinical Fellowship Report form you filled out after your clinical fellowship.
Although the CCC-SLP designation is not required for state licensure, many SLPs in South Carolina find it helpful when applying for jobs or advancing in their careers.
You may consider ASHA’s specialty certification options, which highlight your skills in a particular area of speech-language pathology. The certifications currently offered are:
- Child language and language disorders
- Fluency and fluency disorders
- Swallowing and swallowing disorders
You can read more about these certifications on ASHA’s Clinical Specialty Certification page.
Step 4. Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in South Carolina
To earn your SLP license, you must fill out the Application for Initial License and submit it with a transcript from your graduate program, your exam score, and proof of your clinical fellowship.
Once you receive your license, you have several options for where you can take your career. Here are some of the most common options SLPs pursue.
- Many SLPs have a job waiting for them in the clinic or hospital where they completed their clinical fellowship. Returning to a familiar workplace is an ideal way to enter the profession as a licensed SLP. You can also begin your search beyond your clinical fellowship.
- Starting a speech-language therapy practice in South Carolina is the dream of many SLPs, as it allows you to take control of your schedule and be your own boss. A popular option for SLPs in South Carolina who want to pursue this path is telepractice, which allows them to provide speech and language services via the Internet. You can read more about starting a private practice through ASHA’s website.
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
After earning your license, you must maintain it by renew it every two years and complete 16 hours of continuing education during each two-year period. Contact the Board to renew your license.
You can find continuing education opportunities through the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The Association also hosts an annual conference that counts towards continuing education. You can read about the specific requirements for continuing education on the Board’s website.
Speech-Language Pathology Salary in South Carolina
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a highly detailed analysis of the wages for speech-language pathologists in the major cities of South Carolina as of 2015:
Rapid Job Growth for South Carolina’s Speech-Language Pathologists
The South Carolina Department of Employment estimates that the number of jobs for speech-language pathologists will increase by 19.3% between 2014 and 2024. This rate of job growth is more than 2-fold greater than that for occupations overall in the state. The Department estimates that this level of growth will generate an average of 82 jobs a year for SLPs in South Carolina.
However, the state’s Department of Employment reported that more than 1,000 jobs for speech-language pathologists were advertised online during the month of July, 2016. Greenville offered the largest number of jobs.
While many SLPs work in schools and hospitals, private outpatient clinics offer additional employment opportunities. Some of the state’s many outpatient clinics that use speech-language pathologists include:
- Aiken: Hitchcock Healthcare
- Asheville: Carolina Pediatric Therapy
- Blufton: Lowcountry Therapy Center
- Charlotte: Speech Matters
- Charlotte: TerrificTalkers
- Charlotte: The Brain Trainer
- Goose Creek: aspire
- Greenville: John I Smith Scottish Rite Center
- Greenville: Kidnetics
- Greenville: Therapy360 – Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy
- Lexington: Midlands Therapy Services, LLC
- Mauldin: Upstate Pediatric Speech Therapy Services, Inc.
- Spartanburg: Pediatrics Unlimited Inc.
- West Columbia: Columbia Speaks In-Home Speech Therapy & Clinic
Salaries for SLPs in South Carolina and Its Regions
Speech-language pathologists in South Carolina who were experienced earned an average salary of $79,360 ($38.16 hourly) as of 2015 according to the state’s Department of Employment. The median salary among SLPs was $64,830 ($31.17 hourly).
The Department provides a breakdown of the salaries of South Carolina’s speech-language pathologists by Workforce Region. The median salary among SLPs in the Greenville region was the highest in the state. In fact, this figure was more than $22,000 greater than the median salary earned by speech-language pathologists in South Carolina overall:
- Annual: $87,727 – $97,631
- Hourly: $42.18 – $46.94
- Annual: $79,959 – $95,408
- Hourly: $38.44 – $45.87
- Annual: $75,938 – $86,427
- Hourly: $36.51 – $41.55
- Annual: $72,905 – $91,842
- Hourly: $35.06- $39.35
- Annual: $72,474 – $84,534
- Hourly: $35.32 – $40.54
- Annual: $61,329 – $76,572
- Hourly: $29.48 – $36.81
- Annual: $59,590 – $72,196
- Hourly: $28.65 – $34.71
- Annual: $58,603 – $64,263
- Hourly: $28.17 – $30.90
- Annual: $57,826 – $79,469
- Hourly: $27.80 – $38.20
- Annual: $54,681 – $63,086
- Hourly: $26.38 – $30.33
- Annual: $54,028 – $63,431
- Hourly: $25.98 – $30.50
- Annual: $51,606 – $63,230
- Hourly: $24.81 – $30.40