What is a Speech-Language Pathologist & How to Become an SLP

Hey hey! Are you interested in a career that (1) makes a positive impact on people's lives and (2) helps them communicate effectively?

If yes, then you might want to consider becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP).

In this blog post, I'll break down what exactly SLPs do, where they work, and what populations they work with, and allll the steps you need to take to become one.

Let’s get started!

What is an SLP?

“SLP” stands for Speech-Language Pathologist. SLPs are licensed professionals who specialize in helping people who have communication, cognition, and swallowing difficulties.

What does an SLP do?

The SLP scope of practice is quite broad, but some of the main things SLPs do include:

  • Assessing and diagnosing communication and swallowing disorders
  • Developing and implementing treatment plans
  • Providing individual or group therapy to improve speech, language, and swallowing skills
  • Collaborating with other professionals, such as physical and occupational therapists, physicians, audiologists, and teachers
  • Providing counseling and support to individuals and their families
  • Keeping detailed records of clients' progress and updating their treatment plans as needed

Where do SLPs work?

SLPs work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, and universities.

They also work with a wide range of populations, which leads me to…

Who do SLPs work with?

To name a few, SLPs work with:

  • Children and adults with speech-language difficulties related to developmental delays or disorders
  • Adults with speech, language, and cognitive-communication difficulties related to stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other neurological conditions
  • Individuals with communication difficulties related to voice, articulation, or stuttering
  • Individuals with feeding and/or swallowing difficulties related to developmental disabilities, stroke, dementia, or other medical conditions

Now, let's talk about how you can become an SLP!

How to become an SLP:

1. Get your bachelor's degree:

You'll need to have a bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders, or a related field.

2. Complete a master's degree in speech-language pathology:

This typically takes two years and includes both coursework and clinical experience.

If you are currently applying to grad school or will be soon, check out my blog and shop for TONS of resources to help you create your very best grad school application! And don't forget to download your free Ultimate Grad School Application Checklist!

3. Pass the Praxis exam:

This is a standardized exam that all SLPs must pass in order to become licensed.

4. Complete a clinical fellowship:

This is a 9-month period after obtaining your master’s degree that provides supervision while you find your footing practicing in the real world.

For more information on a clinical fellowship, visit Goal-Setting for SLP Clinical Fellows.

5. Obtain your license:

After you complete your clinical fellowship, you'll need to obtain a license from the state in which you plan to practice.

You’ll also need to apply for your Certificate of Clinical Competence (your CCCs) from ASHA.

Being a speech-language pathologist is a rewarding and fulfilling career where you can consistently make a positive impact on people's lives. If you're interested in learning more about this field, be sure to check out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website at ASHA.org.

ASHA has tons of resources and information about speech-language pathology, as well as a directory of SLPs in your area if you are interested in reaching out to them for observations.

I hope this post has given you a better understanding of what SLPs do, where they work, and what you need to do to become one!

Good luck on your journey to SLP, and always feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

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Learn more about how I help you become an SLP as you apply for grad school HERE.