ASHA Certification for Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs)

Speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat speech and language disorders that affect people of all ages. As a wide range of medical conditions (e.g., autism, hearing loss, multiple sclerosis) affects people’s ability to communicate, understand others, and swallow, speech-language pathologists must possess advanced degrees and stay active learners throughout their careers. As a result, the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA) provides certification to speech-language pathologists across the United States. For over 65 years, this organization has both certified speech-language pathologists and advanced the field through research and professional collaboration.

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ASHA certification not only helps speech-language pathologists advance their careers but also informs patients as to which pathologists can best help them cope with and perhaps overcome their disabilities. As of the writing of this article, ASHA offers two certifications: the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) and the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). Outside of certification, ASHA boasts nearly 200,000 members that include audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and university students and faculty.

Speech Pathology Certification and Licensure

ASHA Certification by State

Each state takes a vested interested in ensuring that medical professionals within their borders are highly trained and competent professionals who provide patients excellent care. Before earning SLP certification, speech-language pathologists-in-training may be required to meet their states’ certification or licensure requirements. Certification requirements vary slightly among states, the most substantial difference involving the number of clinical hours speech-language pathologists must complete before gaining certification and the ability to work independently. However, aspiring speech-language pathologists should know that requirements among states are more similar than different, meaning that certified professionals can transfer their certifications/licenses between states if they decide to move during their careers.

As a non-governmental, non-profit organization, ASHA’s certification requirements do not vary by state. In other words, the ASHA CCC is a professional certification wherein medical experts create and oversee each part of the certification process. In fact, its requirements often exceed those set by many states. In the next section, you can learn how CCC-SLP holders benefit throughout their careers no matter where they practice.

Why Become an ASHA Certified Speech Pathologist?

Even in the expanding medical field, speech-language pathologists need every advantage if they are to attain their ideal career within the field. The largest employers may provide financial incentives to certified speech-language pathologists such as higher starting salaries and more rapid salary advancement. Finally, no matter the employer, human resources departments may look specifically for applicants whose resumes indicate ASHA certification..

Beyond salary, either ASHA certification increases holders’ credibility and respectability within their organizations. People automatically know that CCC-SLPs completed some of the most rigorous training standards in the country. Professionals with this qualification often enter leadership positions where they can make a more significant impact on patient outcomes.

Finally, although certified speech-language pathologists often move between states during their careers, transferring a certification can sometimes take a considerable amount of time. States often ask for test scores, transcripts and other materials that applicants may not have readily available. SLP certification can help streamline this process significantly, meaning that professionals can resume their careers in an efficient manner.

How to Apply for ASHA Certification

ASHA certification candidates may already hold a master’s or doctoral degree in speech-language pathology that reflects ASHA’s requirements (e.g., in-depth instruction in speech sound production, receptive and expressive language, and cognitive aspects of communication). After earning their degrees, candidates must spend at least 400 hours—25 of which under the guidance of a licensed speech-language pathologist—working with patients in clinical settings. Obtaining this experience may take up to six months.

Another application requirement involves passing the Praxis® Examination in Speech-Language Pathology. This comprehensive examination takes around 5 hours to complete, and many states require it for initial licensure/certification. As of the writing of this article, the exam costs $120 for each attempt and covers three content areas:

  • Planning, implementation, and evaluation of treatment (33% of all questions)
  • Screening, assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis (33% of all questions)
  • Foundations and professional practice (33% of all questions)

SLP certification applicants’ Praxis ® scores must be no more than five years old at the time of submitting the final application.

In this article’s final section, you can learn more about the ASHA Clinical Fellowship (CFY), the application process’ capstone experience and largest determining factor whether ASHA grants certification. After applicants complete the ASHA CFY, they submit any remaining application materials to ASHA.

ASHA Certification of Clinical Competence (CCC)

The ASHA Certification of Clinical Competence (CCC) is the certification speech-language pathologists earn once they complete the ASHA certification process. Specifically, speech-language pathologists earn the CCC-SLP certification, while audiologists earn the CCC-A certification. The CCC-A certification uses a separate set of requirements and does not apply to speech-language pathologists.

Certified speech-language pathologists maintain their SLP licenses by completing 30 hours of continuing education (CE) every three years. Certified professionals can earn CE hours either through in-person courses or online seminars. The ASHA website includes a list of approved CE activities (e.g., teacher-led courses) along with a list of those that do not meet its requirements (e.g., self-directed study). Certified speech-language pathologists should carefully examine the ASHA website before signing up for any CE courses.

ASHA Clinical Fellowship (CFY)

The application process’ final component involves completing the 1,260-hour ASHA CFY, which takes approximately 36 weeks if candidates work full time. Applicants who work part time can take up to four years to complete the CFY. Candidates work under a mentor’s — the mentor should already possess the CCC-SLP and at least nine months’ additional experience — guidance. During the CFY, candidates must spend at least 80% of all documented hours in contact with patients.

Besides monitoring SLP certification candidates, mentors have many responsibilities before and during a CFY. Prospective mentors complete a two-hour training program and follow a strict set of professional standards. During the CFY, mentors document candidates’ progress and conduct at least 36 supervisory activities that gauge candidates’ proficiency with ASHA’s rigorous SLP standards.