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School Speech Therapists

School Speech Therapists

Dona DeZube, Monster Finance Careers Expert

SLP graduate programs are competitive due to limited class sizes. The Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) receives as many as 250 applications for 25 SLP slots. “It’s not that different in many places, because to get your master’s and work in a school system, you have to have clinical practicum experience, and that takes one-on-one supervision,” explains Froma Roth, PhD, CCC-SLP, graduate director of SLP at UMCP.

Forty-seven states regulate SLPs (Colorado, Michigan, South Dakota and the District of Columbia do not), and 11 states require school SLPs to be licensed. Those license requirements typically follow the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence standards (ASHA CCC-SLP) of passing a national exam, having a master’s degree, and completing 400 hours of supervised clinical observation and practice as well as a 36-week professional fellowship working under a certified SLP.

Meeting the Demand

Schools in urban and rural areas face the biggest shortages of SLPs, Whitmire says. SLPs who speak a second language, especially Spanish, are also sought after.

Graduate SLP students and practicing SLPs are benefiting from the shortage. The Montgomery County school system in Maryland offers five scholarships to graduate students who agree to work for the district for at least three years. “School systems are also offering more support to new SLPs, more supervision, more in-house courses and more scaffolding so they don’t feel so isolated,” Roth says. They’re also offering part-time opportunities (average pay is $50 an hour) to attract SLPs seeking work/life balance.

In addition to education and certification, you’ll need plenty of patience, compassion and good listening skills to succeed in this field. A cheerful disposition will also help, since the heart of speech-language pathology is making kids enjoy working to improve their communication.

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