How to Become a Speech Language Pathologist?

Are you thinking of becoming a Speech Language Pathologist or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Speech Language Pathologist, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Speech Language Pathologist job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Speech Language Pathologist

If you enjoy helping people, jump into a rewarding career as a speech language pathologist. You'll specialize in treating various speech impediments and address language comprehension difficulties when you follow these steps:

Pursue a bachelor's degree.

Experts at the American Speech Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommend speech language pathologists may stay ahead of the competition with an undergraduate education in Communication Sciences and Disorders. There are numerous benefits to earning a Bachelor of Arts or Science in this field, including a clear path to your master's program in speech language pathology.

You'll also need recommendation letters and excellent scores on the GRE General Test, if your targeted graduate school considers these scores, plus other academic prerequisites. However, some graduate school programs, like the one at Emerson College, offer a more flexible policy for college majors and don't require the GRE.

Industry standards mandate that all undergraduate speech language pathology programs offer students the chance to accumulate 400 hours of supervised clinical practice experience. These rules also require faculty to teach core values like:

  • Accountability.
  • Patient concern.
  • Cultural competence.
  • Professional duty.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Speech Language Pathologist?

62% of people working as a Speech Language Pathologist earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Speech Language Pathologist?

  • Masters Level
  • CPR
  • Excellent Communication
  • Computer Literate
  • Bilingual
  • Effective Communication
  • English Language
  • Critical Thinking
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Speech Language Pathologist in the United States.

Search for a master's program.

Search for accredited speech language pathology master's programs using the ASHA's EdFind Tool. This comprehensive database features more than 300 institutions featuring degree programs in speech language pathology, audiology, and other language and hearing sciences. In addition, some educators offer online programs you can complete in just 20 weeks. It would help if you also considered applying for a scholarship to reduce your educational expenses.


Complete a clinical fellowship.

After completing your graduate program, plan to begin your clinical fellowship program. Depending on your state's requirements, you may have to apply for a temporary or intern license.

A speech language pathology fellowship consists of a training period under the supervision of a licensed clinical professional. This mentor offers guidance and support so you can successfully earn the required hours. Clinical fellowship requirements vary from state to state, although most areas require a 36-week fellowship for aspiring practitioners.


Take and pass the PRAXIS.

The PRAXIS Speech Language Pathology exam is a national test administered by the Educational Testing Service. It measures your understanding of key content and current practice standards within your field. You must successfully pass this exam to earn your state license to practice as a speech language pathologist. The PRAXIS consists of the following topic areas:

  • Foundations of common disorders.
  • Professional practice.
  • Screening conditions.
  • Assessment and evaluation.
  • Diagnosis.
  • Treatment planning.
  • Implementation protocols.
  • Evaluation of Treatment.

Get your certification.

Now that you're licensed, the next step is to obtain your Certificate of Speech Language Pathology. This certificate assures the public that you have the education and experience needed to practice in your field and that you have been through a thorough vetting process. With this certification, you are ready to start applying for speech language pathologist jobs.

Speech Language Pathologist Career Path

Speech Language Pathologist

8+Years of Experience
$77K - $118K /yrMost Likely Range
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Speech Language Pathologist Supervisor

5 - 7Years of Experience
$61K - $93K /yrMost Likely Range
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Lead Speech Language Pathologist

5 - 7Years of Experience
$78K - $119K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Speech Language Pathologist Career Path

Speech Language Pathologist I
Speech Language Pathologist
Speech Language Pathologist Supervisor
Speech Language Pathology Manager
Lead Speech Language Pathologist
Director of Speech Language Pathology

Related Careers in the Healthcare Industry

Interested in other Healthcare careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Speech Language Pathologist skills. Discover some of the most common Speech Language Pathologist career transitions, along with skills overlap.

13% skills overlap
16% transitioned to Therapist