Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Want to know what it takes to be an SLPA in the U.S.? This post goes over:
How to become certified as an SLPA
How to get 100 hours of fieldwork
How to find SLPA positions
What are the requirements?
It depends on your state.
ASHA has already done the hard work for you. If you're interested in being a SLPA, I'm sure you've looked up requirements and have been met with a wall of text or legalese. Want it in simple terms? These are ASHA's state-by-state licensing/certification requirements. (click your state, then support personnel to figure out what is required for certification in your state. Keep in mind, this is only updated annually so your state's regulations might have changed)
Want to get certified through ASHA?
This is a list of ASHA's certification program (C-SLPA) requirements, directly from their website:
Completion of a 1-hour of ethics course
Completion of a 1-hour course in universal safety precautions
Completion of a 1-hour patient confidentiality training course
Clinical field work: A minimum of 100 hours (observation hours cannot be used), to include 80 hours of direct patient/client/student services under the supervision of an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) and 20 hours of indirect patient/client/student services under the supervision of an ASHA-certified SLP
One of the following education requirements: 2 year SLPA program OR 4 year CSD undergraduate OR other Bachelor's degree along with Introductory or overview course in communication disorders, Phonetics, Speech sound disorders, Language development, Language disorders, Anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing mechanisms, and ASHA’s online SLPA education modules
Completion of the exam
---again, this is voluntary unless your state (or job) requires it
State licensure/certification/registration takes precedence, you can hold ASHA's C-SLPA and still be unable to practice in your state if you have not met the state's requirements. On the other end of the spectrum, you might be able to practice without the rigorous requirements of the C-SLPA certification if your state does not yet require it. (Some states only require a high school diploma.) This is because state laws and regulations govern the schools and medical facilities where you'd be working. That being said, it is likely that states will align themselves with the new ASHA certification in the near future, but legislating these changes and adding them to state budgets will take time.
Have any states already moved to require ASHA certification (C-SLPA)?
I'll list them here if so.
What about the 100 hours of fieldwork that are required for ASHA's C-SLPA?
If, for example, you have a Bachelor's degree in something other than SLPH but you've taken the required courses (looking at you, out-of-majors taking levelling courses), you need to have 100 hours of fieldwork to apply for your C-SLPA. In California, and some other states, this is included in SLPA training programs as part of the coursework.
Cold call practicing speech pathologists to ask if they'd be willing to supervise your hours of fieldwork
See if your undergraduate program has a practicum course in which you'd be able to complete your hours
How to find positions
Search on glassdoor or linkedin
Search for the local school districts, they often have their own websites where they'll put their job postings
Is ASHA's C-SLPA worth it?
If you are pursuing work as a SLPA during a gap year before moving onto SLP grad school, this is a short cost/benefit analysis that you could use to determine if it would worth pursuing the ASHA SLPA certification, or if it would be more prudent for you to pursue a different route toward related experience:
Job opportunities: different states utilize SLPAs at different rates. Some, like Kansas, hardly utilize SLPA's at all (instead, most school districts in KS hire speech and language paras). Other states, like Florida or Nevada, utilize SLPAs frequently. For a C-SLPA certification to be worth it, you should determine if job opportunities exist in your state, or you should be willing to move to a state with more opportunities.
Licensure: ASHA's C-SLPA certification is brand new. I've heard through the grapevine that 2 states have adopted the ASHA SLPA Certification. In my own searches, I was not able to find any states that have adopted these standards yet. Therefore, in most cases, you would need to pursue your state's individual standards for licensure and certification. I believe that ASHA intends for the C-SLPA certification to function as a nationwide standard, as is the case for the CCC-SLP. However, just like the CCC-SLP, you will still be beholden to state standards for licensure/certification/registration, even once ASHA's certification becomes standard. If your state has different standards than ASHA, you will have to jump through those hoops. For example, in California, you MUST attend one of their specific, pre-approved SLPA programs or obtain a bachelor's degree in communication sciences - leveling courses or unapproved programs will not count, regardless of your C-SLPA status.
Trajectory: If your goal is to become a SLPA, obtaining the ASHA C-SLPA certification would be advisable, as it's well within the realm of possibility that more states will change their requirements to reflect ASHA's new standards. If your goal is to go to SLP grad school, I've heard that it can be incredibly beneficial to have relevant experience as an SLPA. However, some have found the cost prohibitive, others cannot find job opportunities close by, and still others have determined that the process to gain certification takes more time than they'll have before their next round of grad school applications. You'll really have to take a look at your individual circumstances to determine if this is the right path for you!
Are there other, similar options to SLPA without the rigorous requirements?
The pay for SLPAs is often low, so it can seem a little out of reach for some to jump through all of the hoops to get registered or certified, especially if it is just for a gap year. Are there workarounds or similar positions available in your state?
In Kansas, you only have to have a high-school diploma to be a Speech-Language Para-professional in schools! It is a very similar position to SLPA.
In Missouri, you can be a SLP aide or a Speech Implementor
In New Mexico, you can be an Apprentice in Speech and Language (ASL), which is similar to SLPA