To become a speech pathologist, I had to get a master’s degree while earning more than 400 hours of clinical experience 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. The first year as a speech path is called the “Clinical Fellowship Year” (CFY) and is spent with a supervisor assisting sporadically so that the speech path can earn a “CCC” or a certificate of clinical competence which is issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 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 as well as 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 or even realize that they are able to look up whether or not the speech path they work with has all of the appropriate credentials. Here’s what you should look for and where to find it
1) 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.
2) State License
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. Similar to the rationale for a doctor to have a license, it’s a good idea for the profession to be protected with a license because 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. All of the students graduating in my speech pathology program who wanted to work in a school setting were advised to obtain a state license to protect ourselves. 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.
In the state of Illinois, licenses are regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). 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, you can see the column “Ever Disciplined.” Under both licenses, I was never disciplined, which you should look for with any professional you see.
Next up: verifying the teaching license for your speech pathologist or your child’s teacher. I’ll have to create another post for that — this is getting long already!