The communicative sciences and disorders community in Utah emphasizes bridging research and treatment to produce the best outcomes. From audiologists to SLPs and their assistants, Utah’s community of communicative sciences and disorders professionals continues to expand, network and flourish, amid the growing demand for therapeutic services to deal with speech, fluency and swallowing disorder. The Utah Department of Workforce Services predicts a 27.5 percent increase in jobs for SLPs in the years leading up to 2024, surpassing the national average of 21 percent.
- Calvin University - Calvin University's Online Master of Speech-Language Pathology degree program - Prepares you to become a certified speech-language pathologist.
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The Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Licensing Board is responsible for issuing licenses to qualified SLP candidates in Utah. Licensing requirements include earning a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, completing a clinical fellowship, and passing the national SLP exam.
Follow these steps to become a licensed speech therapist in Utah:
Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Master’s Degree Program in Speech-Language Pathology
To satisfy requirements set by the Utah Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Licensing Board, you must complete a master’s degree at minimum in speech-language pathology from an accredited college or university. The major accrediting agency for SLP programs is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).
CAA-accredited SLP programs can be traditional, campus-based programs or online programs. Online programs offer a greater level of flexibility for those with busy professional schedules while offering all the rigor and opportunities for experience found in conventional campus-based programs.
You can enter an SLP master’s degree program with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or an unrelated program of study.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in this field, you would be well positioned to advance directly to graduate-level coursework. Otherwise, you may need to complete specific prerequisite courses or complete a pre-professional program through your university before you can begin your graduate work.
Typical prerequisite course requirements include:
- Speech Development and Disorders
- Language Acquisition
- Introduction to Communication Disorders
Graduate Courses and Practicum
Master’s degree programs in speech-language pathology consist of 5-6 semesters and cover at least 48 credit hours.
Some of the courses you can expect to complete in an SLP master’s degree program include:
- Phonological Assessments and Intervention
- Introduction to Research in Communicative Disorders
- Neural Bases of Communication and Motor Speech Disorders
- Adult Language Disorders
- Professional Practice in Speech-Language Pathology
Your graduate program will also include a clinical practicum, or externship, that will prepare you for your clinical fellowship and national exam. This 400-hour professional experience is required for graduation, licensure through the Board, and national certification (CCC-SLP) through ASHA, should you elect to pursue it. Online students would work with practicum advisors to be placed with a supervising SLP who would facilitate experiential learning in a variety of settings close to home.
There are three CAA-accredited graduate programs housed in universities in Utah that offer master’s degrees in speech-language pathology for those who would be more interested in learning on-campus than online:
- Master of Science in Communicative Disorders at Brigham Young University
- Master of Arts or Science in Speech-Language Pathology at University of Utah
- Master of Arts or Science in Speech-Language Pathology at Utah State University
Step 2. Complete a Nine-Month Clinical Fellowship Program
Upon graduation from an accredited SLP master’s degree program, you must complete a clinical fellowship of 9 months (one academic year), at 30 hours per week.
The fellowship is a paid opportunity to get real-world exposure to the practice environment you’re most interested in working in, whether the school system, rehabilitation, neonatal intensive care or other acute care settings. You would be responsible for finding an employer interested in taking on a fellow. In many cases, this would lead to full-time employment after you become licensed.
Just a few of the employers of SLPs in Utah that may facilitate a clinical fellowship include:
- Utah’s Communication Connection: Payson
- Utah Behavior Services: Salt Lake City, Riverdale, Lehi, Cedar City, and St. George
- University of Utah HealthCare, Therapy Services: Salt Lake City
- Wasatch Speech and Language Center: Holladay
- VST Online Therapy: Lehi
During your clinical fellowship, you’ll be working with your supervisor to get unique, hands-on experience. The work you do will be different in each location and scenario, but you will find ASHA’s Scope of Practice for SLPs will give you an idea of the general skills an SLP must possess, including leadership, research, advocacy, assessment, and treatment.
A licensed speech-language pathologist who has had their license for at least two years must supervise your clinical fellowship.
You must apply for a Temporary License before beginning your clinical fellowship.
Step 3. Pass the National SLP Examination
You must pass the national SLP examination before you can become licensed. Register for the exam on the Praxis website any time during or after your clinical fellowship. You’ll be able to take the exam at test centers located in:
- Cedar City
- Salt Lake City
You will have 150 minutes to answer 132 multiple-choice questions. The exam is divided into three different categories, which you can study using the preparation materials:
- Foundations and Professional Practice – 1/3 of the exam
- Factors that influence communication, feeding, and swallowing
- Wellness and prevention
- Counseling, collaboration, and teaming
- Research methodology and evidence-based practice
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis – 1/3 of the exam
- Causes of genetic and developmental diseases
- Assessment of fluency, hearing, feeding, and swallowing issues
- Assessing factors that influence communication and swallowing disorders
- Developing case histories
- Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment – 1/3 of the exam
- Treatment of fluency, hearing, feeding, and swallowing disorders
- Communication impairments related to cognition
- Generating a prognosis
- Developing treatment plans and recommendations
To pass the exam, you need to score 162 on a scale of 100-200.
Optional CCC-SLP Certification
Passing the SLP exam also qualifies you to apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP).
Although not a requirement for licensure as an SLP in Utah, many SLPs find the CCC-SLP designation beneficial when entering or advancing in the profession, as it is indicative of an advanced level of professionalism and a commitment to continuing education.
To apply for the CCC-SLP, first fill out the Application for the CCC-SLP. You must send your test scores from Praxis, an SLP Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form,and an official transcript from your graduate program.
Step 4. Become Licensed and Begin Your Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Along with your completed application, you would have your graduate program submit an official transcript, and have your fellowship sponsor submit proof of your clinical fellowship (using the Verification of Clinical Fellowship/Externship form included in the application packet). Praxis will furnish the Board with your exam score.
With your Utah SLP license in hand, you have several options for starting your career, including continuing to work with the employer that sponsored your fellowship.
You may consider pursuing other professional opportunities in:
- Public schools
- Private practices
- Long-term care institutions
Holding one of ASHA’s Clinical Specialty Certifications displays your specific skillset in to your clients, colleagues, and employer, and is worth considering if you will be working in a specialized clinic or intend to establish a specialized practice independently. ASHA offers three different specialty certifications that complement the CCC-SLP:
- Swallowing and swallowing disorders
- Fluency and fluency disorders
- Child language and language disorders
Step 5. Maintain SLP Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
You must also complete at least 20 hours of continuing education every two-year cycle.
You can satisfy your education requirements through ASHA or Utah Speech-Language-Hearing Association (USHA)-sponsored courses or events. The Association offers continuing education to its members, as well as legislative representation, networking opportunities, and recognition via awards at the yearly conference.
Speech-Language Pathology Salary in Utah
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides annual salaries and hourly wages for speech-language pathologists in Utah’s major cities as of 2015:
Exceptional Growth Rates for a Highly Rated Profession
The profession of speech-language pathology received a four-star ranking from Utah’s Department of Workforce Services—the second-highest possible rating. The Department bases this designation on both a strong employment outlook and high wages. In addition to a state wide four-star ranking, both the Salt Lake metro area and Ogden-Clearfield received this high rating.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services predicts that the number of jobs for speech-language pathologists will increase at a rate 42% higher than the national one. The Department expects that the rate in Utah will be 2.7% a year for the ten-year period ending in 2022. The number of jobs for SLPs will increase even faster in the Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan area at 3.1% during this time frame.
More than half of the 950 speech-language pathologists employed in Utah as of 2014 were located in the Salt Lake Metro area.
A survey of job postings for SLPs as of late August 2016 suggests that employers are having difficulty locating employees for their advertised positions. The Utah Department of Workforce Services identified 41 current job openings for speech-language pathologists as of late August 2016. While most of these jobs were posted in August, many were originally posted as long ago as April 2016 and remain unfilled:
- Posted in July: 6 unfilled
- Posted in June: 4 unfilled
- Posted in May: 2 unfilled
- Posted in April: 4 unfilled
Types of Jobs for Speech-Language Pathologists in Utah
With the exception of 90 speech-language pathologists who worked for medical and diagnostic labs throughout the country, SLPs in home health care services earned the highest average wage in 2015 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In partnership with Infogroup®, the US Department of Labor reported that 332 home health service providers in Utah employed speech-language pathologists in 2016. The greatest numbers of these employers were located in Salt Lake City:
- Salt Lake City: 74
- Ogden: 24
- Orem: 22
- Layton: 12
- Draper: 10
- Sandy: 10
- West Draper: 10
Additional employers include outpatient clinics such as the ones shown below:
- Bountiful: Summit Speech Therapy, Inc.
- Herriman: Browning Speech Therapy, LLC
- Highland: Timpanogos Speech Clinic
- Orem: CompleteSpeech
- Payson: Utah’s Communication Connection
- Pleasant Grove: Utah Pediatric Speech
- Salt Lake City: Marcia Stapley, MEd, CCC-SLP
- Salt Lake City: Wasatch Speech & Language Center
Salaries for Utah’s Speech-Language Pathologists
The median salary among speech-language pathologists in Utah was $67,790 ($32.68 hourly) as of 2015 according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services. The median salary among SLPs was even higher in two metropolitan areas:
Salt Lake Metro:
- Annual: $72,290
- Hourly: $34.76
- Annual: $69,068
- Hourly: $33.21
Even inexperienced speech-language pathologists earned an average salary of $49,440 ($23.77 hourly) a year in Ogden-Clearfield.