Guide to Speech-Language Pathology Licenses & Certifications – ASHA CCC-SLP
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Speech-language pathology is one of the fastest-growing careers in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021), the need for qualified speech-language pathologists is set to grow 29 percent between 2020 and 2030, adding an estimated 45,400 jobs. Among the reasons for the projected increase are the healthcare needs of an aging Baby Boomer generation and a growing awareness of speech disorders in younger children.
Every state has rules around who can practice speech-language pathology. Most states require their speech-language pathologists to be licensed in some way, and the requirements for each state are different.
Professional certification is distinct from licensure: while licensure ensures a basic level of consumer protection through which incompetent or unethical practitioners can be weeded out through disciplinary action, certification ensures that speech-language pathologists have met rigorous, peer-reviewed standards of excellence.
The premier certification for speech-language pathologists is the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). While technically optional, professional certification as a CCC-SLP is the most streamlined approach to verifying one’s credentials. In fact, many states model their requirements for licensure upon the requirements for earning the CCC-SLP.
Certification as a CCC-SLP has other benefits as well: the credential is recognized by 34 states for the purposes of reciprocity or interim practice, which is a benefit to speech-language pathologists who move between states; holding a CCC-SLP is mandatory for speech-language pathologists who want to work for the US military; and the credential meets the requirements for speech-language pathologists who are providing Medicare and Medicaid services.
ASHA has been certifying speech-language pathologists since 1952, and today more than 170,000 professionals are certified with ASHA. ASHA’s certification standards are based on skills validation studies and practice analyses involving employers, leaders in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders, and speech-language pathology practitioners.
Getting certified as a CCC-SLP isn’t easy—its requirements are at least as high, if not higher, than those for state licensure—but easy isn’t the point. Those who earn the CCC-SLP designation establish themselves as experts in speech-language pathology, ones committed to the highest standards of excellence and continuing education in the industry. They also make their journey to state certification much simpler.
To learn more about the steps to professional certification as a CCC-SLP, read on.
Step-by-Step Guide to Certification as a Speech-Language Pathologist (CCC-SLP)
Here is one path to becoming a certified speech-language pathologist, following the completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Step 1: Earn a Graduate Degree (Two Years)
In order to be eligible for the CCC-SLP designation, applicants must have earned a graduate degree in speech-language pathology from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA)/
ASHA hosts a searchable database of accredited programs. Candidates will also need to submit transcripts that show that the completed graduate program fulfills course requirements in both the basic sciences and professional areas, as well as a clinical practicum.
Step 2: Pass the Praxis Examination (Timeline Varies)
After earning their graduate degree, candidates for the CCC-SLP will need to take and pass the Praxis Examination. It is possible to register online. This exam assesses a speech-language pathologist’s understanding of essential content and best practices.
Currently, a passing score is 162 or higher out of 200. Review materials are currently available through ETS and the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH).
Note that candidates may take the Praxis Examination at any time before, during, or after applying for the CCC-SLP. It may pay to wait: according to ASHA, one of the top reasons for low scores on the Praxis Examination is taking the test too early on in graduate school, which can lead to an unfamiliarity with the test material and heightened test anxiety.
It is recommended that candidates take the exam no earlier than the completion of their graduate coursework and graduate clinical practicum.
Step 3: Begin Your CCC-SLP Application (Timeline Varies)
While the precise order of operations can vary, candidates for the CCC-SLP will need to submit their official applications directly to ASHA. The process can begin as soon as a candidate has completed their graduate degree, along with its associated coursework and clinical practicum.
When applying, candidates are advised to check the most current speech-pathology standards to ensure their education, experience, and expectations are all a match.
Step 4: Join ASHA (Optional)
While it’s not a requirement, candidates for the CCC-SLP should consider ASHA membership. Members get access to professional resources and important information that helps them stay up to date with developments in the field. By applying between January 1 and August 31 through ASHA’s New Membership Package, new members can receive up to 24 months of membership for the price of 12 months.
Step 5: Complete Clinical Fellowship (36 Weeks or More)
Candidates for the CCC-SLP will need to complete a Clinical Fellowship (CF) in speech-language pathology. This is a mentored experience that begins after a candidate has completed their graduate coursework and clinical practicum. Its goal is to shepherd the candidate from the role of speech-language pathology student to the role of independent speech-language pathology provider.
The ASHA CF experience totals a minimum of 1,260 hours and a minimum of 36 weeks. Most candidates complete the CF in one location on a full-time basis; part-time candidates will need to go beyond the 36-week minimum to fulfill the requirements; all clinical fellows must complete their experience within four years of starting it. Fellows are advised to verify that the mentor they choose meets the mentor qualifications of ASHA.
In total, 80 percent of a clinical fellow’s workweek must be spent in direct clinical contact that matches with ASHA’s scope of practice in speech-language pathology; examples of direct clinical contact include screening, assessment, treatment, counseling, and consultation. The remaining 20 percent of the workweek may be spent in alternative activities, such as attending training, in-services, and presentations.
Step 6: Submit Completed CCC-SLP Application
The final step in the application process is for candidates to submit their completed CCC-SLP application, with all the necessary documentation. This should include dues and fees: the total cost is $511 for certification and ASHA membership, and $455 for certification without ASHA membership.
Candidates should allow up to six weeks for the review of their completed applications after the final documents are submitted.
Step 7: Notify State Licensure Board of Certification (Optional)
After you’ve earned your CCC-SLP, you may need to notify your state licensure board or regulatory agency. ASHA only sends verifications of certification upon request. To request a verification letter, you can download and print one from ASHA’s online certification verification system, or you may contact ASHA’s Action Center (800-498-2071) to request one be sent directly to a local agency.
CCC-SLP holders can find detailed information on their own state’s licensure regulations on the ASHA state-by-state advocacy page.
Step 8: Maintain Your Certification (Every Three Years)
Those who hold the CCC-SLP certification will need to maintain it. To do so, they must continue to abide by the ASHA Code of Ethics, which is a framework for day-to-day decision-making and professional conduct.
Additionally, CCC-SLP holders must participate in 30 contact hours of professional development activities every three years. Currently, one out of those 30 contact hours must be in the area of ethics.
Starting with the January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2025 maintenance cycle, two of the 30 hours must be focused on cultural competency, cultural humility, culturally responsive practice, or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).