Certification Process for Speech-Language Pathologists
To become a speech pathologist, I had to get a master’s degree and simultaneously earn more than 400 hours of clinical experience. But not just any clinical experience. It had to be across several categories of patient category (age, voice, articulation, language, etc). At the end of my degree program, I had to pass a national speech exam called the PRAXIS.
What is the Clinical Fellowship Year?
The first year as a speech path is called the “Clinical Fellowship Year” (CFY). The CFY is spent with a supervisor monitoring and assisting the clinical fellow with therapy and evaluation. The CFY experience happens in both medical and educational settings. At the end of nine months, the speech path can earn a “CCC” or a certificate of clinical competence. The CCC is issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the national certification body. To obtain a state license to practice I had to send all of this information to the state of Illinois. Finally, for my teaching certificate, I had to send everything to the state board of education and pass several teaching exams.
Phew, it was a lot of work and a long process! But I don’t think that many parents or clients check out my credentials. In fact, I don’t think parents know they can look up he credentials of the speech path they work with. Here’s what you should look for and where to find it
What is ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC)?
While this certification is optional in some states, working with a speech pathologist with a CCC is the most desirable. When a clinician has a CCC, not only does it mean that he or she experienced a clinical fellowship year (CFY) to increase their skill set, but they also have to keep up their continuing education, 30 hours over three years.
Click above to get to the website and put in the name of a speech path or if you know their ASHA number, you can use that as well.
As you can see, my name comes up in a short list of other people. If you click on my name, you can get a little more information about the certification. Additionally, you can see when I earned it (July 2007). That date corresponds to the first time I had the certification, which was after the CFY. August 2007 was when I started my second year of employment.
My certification is listed as CCC-SLP. The other certification you might see is CCC-A, which is what audiologists earn. Fifty years ago it was relatively easy to earn both certifications and there were people who had both a CCC-SLP and CCC-A, but the programs have developed into completely distinct entities so that is much less common.
Where to Find the State Licenses of Speech Pathologists?
Speech pathologists who work in a clinic, hospital, rehab facility, nursing home, early intervention, in a private practice, or on their own retain a license to practice in a state. This varies by state but most states require speech pathologists to have a license. It’s a good idea for the profession to be protected with a license. Otherwise anyone could say that he/she is a speech path and collect money in that profession without the appropriate certification and education. Licenses protect the public.
Depending on the state, some speech pathologists who work in a school setting do not carry the state license but rely exclusively on the teaching license issued by the board of education. It’s advisable to obtain a state license to protect, even if we work exclusively in the school setting. Additionally, if you do not have the state license you could not pick up any clients outside of a traditional school job. Many speech paths have small caseloads outside of their school-based work through private practices or early intervention. A state license makes that possible.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) regulates state licenses. Here’s where to look people up:
Checking out the drop-down box, it’s easy to verify the licenses of several different professions.
After submitting the profession and the first and last name of the person, you will get a list of licenses.
You can see that I have two licenses, one active and one expired. The expired license is a temporary license that I received during my first year as a speech pathologist, when I was under supervision during my CFY. Then you can see that I have an active license that I practice under. On the far right The column “Ever Disciplined” is visible. Check to be sure that there is nothing in that field.