How to Become a Speech Therapist in South Dakota

The South Dakota Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SDSLHA) serves the state’s speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech-language-hearing scientists through their tireless efforts in regulatory advocacy, public awareness promotion, opportunities for professional growth, and support for adults and children in South Dakota with communications disorders and their families.

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The SDSLHA also runs a robust volunteer program for working speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Volunteers work in legislative advocacy, licensure education, convention preparation, and more.

Their work is essential, given that the number of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in South Dakota continues to grow at a steady pace. The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation projects the number of SLPs in the state will increase by 9.5 percent in the years leading up to 2024.

To begin your career as a speech-language pathologist, you will need to earn state licensure through the Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology, which requires earning a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution, completing a postgraduate clinical fellowship, and passing the national SLP exam.

Follow these steps to become a licensed speech therapist in South Dakota:

Ean a Speech Therapy Degree: Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
Complete a Post-Graduate Professional Experience
Pass the National SLP Exam
Apply for Your State SLP License and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements



Step 1. Earn a Speech Therapist Degree: Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology

You must first earn a master’s degree or higher in speech-language pathology from an American Speech-Language Hearing Association Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA)-accredited program.

There is just one CAA-accredited program in South Dakota: Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology through the University of South Dakota. With just one traditional, campus-based programs in South Dakota, CAA-accredited online SLP programs have become a popular choice. Online programs allow students to complete their graduate work in speech-language pathology, regardless of their geographic location.

Undergraduate Program Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or a similar field allows students direct entry into a master’s degree program in speech-language pathology. Most programs also accept students with undergraduate degrees in other fields, although the completion of several prerequisite courses or a pre-professional program may be required before they can begin their graduate coursework.

Some of the prerequisite courses needed to begin a master’s degree in speech-language therapy include:

  • Language Acquisition
  • Phonetics
  • Speech Science
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech Mechanism

Graduate Program Requirements

Some of the coursework you can expect to complete in an SLP master’s program includes:

  • Aural Rehabilitation
  • Disorders of Phonology and Articulation
  • Language Disorders of Children
  • Professional Issues in Communication Disorders
  • Advanced Language Disorders
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Craniofacial Anomalies
  • Acquired Disorders of Language and Cognition
  • Diagnostics in Speech and Language Disorders

As a part of your speech-language pathology coursework, you will complete a clinical practicum of at least 400 hours. This supervised clinical experience will include working under a licensed speech-language pathologist and preparing you for a post-graduate clinical fellowship.



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Step 2. Complete a Post-Graduate Professional Experience

South Dakota licensing laws require all candidates for SLP licensure to complete at least nine months of full-time supervised post-graduate professional experience—also known as a clinical fellowship—under the guidance and supervision of a licensed SLP.

Just a few of the employers in South Dakota you may be interested in contacting about sponsoring a paid fellowship include:

  • Regional Health, Rapid City
  • Theratime, Sioux Falls
  • Big Stone Therapies, Sioux Falls

You’ll need to apply for a provisional license before starting your post-graduate professional experience, which requires submitting proof of the completion of your graduate program with clinical practicum. The provisional license is valid for a period of 24 months and can be renewed only one time.

Your post-graduate professional experience must meet ASHA requirements, which entails completing a full-time schedule of at least nine months (36 weeks). You may also complete the required experience on a part-time basis, provided you work at least 5 hours per week.

During your clinical fellowship, you’ll be enjoying hands-on experience as a speech-language pathologist. ASHA has written the Scope of Practice for SLPs, which lists some general topics and discussion about the profession. You’ll gain valuable experience in developing treatment plans, conducting research, and assisting patients in legislative issues, among many other professional tasks.

At the end of your supervised professional experience, your supervising SLP must complete the Verification of Supervised Post-Graduate Professional Experience form so you can turn it in with your South Dakota SLP license application.



Step 3. Pass the National SLP Examination

As the last step for SLP licensure in South Dakota, you must take and pass the national SLP exam, administered by Praxis.

To register for the exam, visit the Praxis exam registration page and follow the instructions. You’ll be able to choose from test centers in:

  • Aberdeen
  • Huron
  • Rapid City
  • Sioux Falls
  • Vermillion

Once you are registered for the exam, be sure to prepare using the Praxis preparation materials. The exam has 132 multiple-choice questions and a 150-minute time limit. The exam is divided up into three, equal categories. Here’s an overview of the content:

  • Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
    • Typical development and performance across the lifespan
    • Characteristics of common communication and swallowing disorders
    • Wellness and prevention
    • Research methodology and evidence-based practice
  • Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
    • Screening for communication disorders
    • Developing case histories
    • Assessment procedures for fluency disorders
    • Genetic and developmental disorders
  • Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
    • Evaluating factors that can affect treatment
    • Establishing methods for monitoring treatment progress
    • Treatment of speech sound production disorders
    • Follow up on referrals and recommendations

To pass the exam, you need to score 162 on a scale of 100-200.

Optional CCC-SLP Certification

After passing the SLP exam, you may to apply for the optional CCC-SLP certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) before applying for licensure.

If you choose to earn this voluntary certification before applying for your state license, you can submit proof of your CCC-SLP certification in lieu of supplying proof of completing a qualified graduate program and fellowship when applying for licensure.

To apply for the CCC-SLP, fill out the Application for the CCC-SLP. Send it to ASHA with the SLP Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form, the passing exam score from Praxis, and an official transcript from your graduate program.



Step 4. Apply for Your State SLP License and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist

Once you have passed the Praxis exam, you can apply for your South Dakota SLP license. You must complete the Application for Licensure and include all necessary documents, including proof of the completion of your graduate program, the Verification of Supervised Post-Graduate Professional Experience form, and your passing SLP exam score.

After the Board reviews your application and sends you your license, you can begin your career. A host of opportunities exist for licensed SLPs in South Dakota in hospital systems, private practices, and public clinics, just to name a few.

You can view some of the latest openings through the South Dakota Speech-Language-Hearing Association employment board. This page is updated often, making it your best bet for exploring new job openings in South Dakota.

After earning your CCC-SLP, you can earn optional specialty certifications through ASHA to further your career and display your unique skillset to colleagues, patients and employers.

Options for specialty certification include:

  • Child language and language disorders
  • Fluency and fluency disorders
  • Swallowing and swallowing disorders
  • Intraoperative monitoring

You can read more about these certifications on ASHA’s website.



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Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements

South Dakota licensed SLPs must maintain their license by renewing it every two years on October 1 and completing at least 20 contact hours during each renewal period. You can renew your license with the renewal form.

Continuing education can be fulfilled by completing courses or attending events offered by the South Dakota Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SDSLHA).

You can also become a member of the SDSLHA and gain many professional benefits in the form of legislative advocacy support, a statewide and national network, and ongoing employment opportunities.

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