What is a Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA)?
Speech Pathology Assistant Work Environments
What is the Difference Between a Speech Pathology Assistant and Speech Pathologist?
Can You Prepare for a Speech Pathology Assistant Career with a Bachelor’s in Speech Pathology?
How to Become a Speech Language Pathology Assistant in Three Steps
The process of becoming a speech therapy assistant will be different for everyone. With a range of courses to choose from and different regulations across different states, that’s not surprising. Below, we highlight one possible path to become a speech therapist assistant.
- Complete Education Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants
Although specifics vary by state, speech pathology assistants generally complete a course of academic study. If you have a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology, for example, you can take the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification exam by completing ASHA’s Online SLPA Assistant Education Modules. There are other speech-language pathology paths you may want to explore, with ASHA suggesting that shorter SLPA programs are acceptable, too (namely an associate degree). Taking around two years, associate degree programs can be completed in a number of ways: at community colleges, through technical training programs or via a certificate program.
- Finish Training Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants
Training requirements vary by state, but to complete ASHA’s recommended track, you’re required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of supervised fieldwork experience, or its clinical experience equivalent, including 80 hours of direct patient or client services and 20 hours of indirect service under the supervision of an ASHA-certified speech language pathologist. These SLPs are expected to offer SLPAs continued training opportunities. Once you actually start working, you may be expected to complete specific on-the-job training to prepare you for certain roles in professional settings, including hospitals and schools.
- Obtain Certification Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants
Before starting work as a SLPA, you may have to become a certified speech pathology assistant. Eligibility requirements vary by state, so be sure to check before committing. For example, state licensure boards have training requirements that range from a high school diploma to a baccalaureate degree. At the same time, some state education agencies may credential SLPAs to work exclusively in schools to support the work of qualified SLPs. After completing the prerequisite education and training requirements, you can apply for the ASHA SLPA certification (C-SLPA). Though it’s a voluntary credential, this speech pathology assistant certification provides assurance to patients, clients, health care professionals and state licensure boards that you’re keeping up with changes in the profession’s scope of practice.
Common Skills Used by Speech Pathology Assistants
- Critical Thinking. By recognizing a wide variety of speech and communication disorders, you can practice and work on building robust problem-solving and analytical skills. Critical thinking skills may also help you apply the scientific method to patients and clients.
- Communication and Patience. Apart from identifying communication abnormalities, SLPAs are often comfortable communicating their findings to patients and clients, in conjunction with SLPs. This may empower you to build strong relationships with them, and help to improve their care.