What are Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs)?

Do you have a passion for helping others communicate and express themselves effectively?If so, then the field of Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) might just be the right choice.

These dedicated professionals play a vital role in supporting speech-language pathologists, making a significant impact on the lives of those who struggle with communication. In this article, we’ll learn about SLPAs and their vital role in helping individuals with communication disorders. So, let’s begin!

What are SLPAs?

Speech-language pathology assistants, as the name suggests, are assistants that carry out duties prescribed and directed to them by ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists. They are well-equipped with all the required knowledge and practical experience. 

Speech Language Pathologists Assistants are a crucial part of the support staff; they not only help bring out better results but also help maintain better communication between the Speech Language Pathologist and their patients. 

Other support staff also exists, but the definitions of aides and assistants differ from state to state. There are normally two tiers of support personnel: aides and assistants. ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) makes a distinction among these two levels based on the degree of training and duties. 

Aides, for instance, are less responsible for and have a different training background than speech-language pathology assistants. They are not as professionally trained as speech-language pathology assistants are. Depending on the state, support staff in speech-language pathology may be referred to as communication aids, staff members, or program extenders.

Becoming a Speech-Pathology Assistant: A Step-by-Step Guide

An SLPA job necessitates specific training and certification. To become a speech-language pathology assistant, follow these steps:

1. Complete The Educational Requirements

There are various educational paths one can take to become an SLPA. You can pursue the following academic paths, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the top speech-language pathology organization in the country:

SLPA Degree Program

The first alternative is to complete a two-year or longer SLPA program from an accredited institution, like a community college, technical training program, or school for trades. An associate degree is the end result of this program. 

Undergraduate Degree

A bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from an approved university is the second educational route. In order to continue down this path, you must also complete an ASHA-offered online education module or its academic equivalent.

College Education

The last option is to complete ASHA’s online SLPA education module and have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an authorized university. You must additionally finish either an SLPA certificate program or academic courses in the following areas to qualify for this option:

  • Communication disorders overview
  • Abnormalities of the speech sound
  • Phonetics
  • Language Learning and Language impairments
  • Physiology and Anatomy related to the art of speaking and listening

2. Complete the Necessary Training.

In order to become certified as a speech-language pathology assistant, ASHA mandates that you complete specific courses, regardless of the educational path you choose. Your degree program might occasionally fulfill these extra criteria. You can enroll in any of the professional development courses at any time within the two years prior to your application; each one lasts for one hour. The subjects cover

  • Ethics
  • general safety measures
  • training on maintaining patient privacy

3. Finish the Required Fieldwork

ASHA requires candidates becoming Speech Language Pathologists Assistants to complete a minimum of 100 clinical hours, often known as on-the-job hours or a clinical practicum, in addition to education and training. If it happens within five years of the time of your application, you might be eligible to finish your clinical fieldwork while still in college. At least 80 hours of this fieldwork will be spent working directly with patients. These hours could involve duties you carry out under a qualified Speech-language Pathologist’s supervision, like:

  • Screenings for speech, language, and hearing
  • Patient, customer, or student assessments
  • Providing appropriate treatment options after discussion with primary 

You can also do 20 hours or more of indirect clinical fieldwork. These times could consist of:

  • Professional meetings to discuss or plan patient treatments with a speech-language pathologist as 
  • Appointments with a licensed SLP
  • Computer work dealing with billing or coding operations, data entry, etc 
  • Keeping treatment records of patients and their overall progress

4. Pass the ASHA Assistants Exam for Certification

You can take the ASHA Assistants Certification Exam once you’ve finished your coursework and fieldwork. The Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology has accepted it as a nationwide test. You can apply, pay for it, and provide the necessary paperwork, such as your official transcripts, in order to take this exam. You can find tools online to help you prepare for the test. Find other people who are giving the exam; make a study group to help you understand better; and pass your exam on the first go. The earlier you clear the exam, the better. 

The test measures your knowledge of the tasks and area of practice of an SLPA as well as your proficiency in the field of speech-language pathology. There are a total of 100 multiple-choice questions. You get two more chances to repeat the exam within a year if you don’t pass on the first try. So don’t get demotivated if you don’t pass it on the first attempt. 

5. Complete SLPA Job Applications

You can start applying for jobs as a Certified Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (C-SLPA) as soon as you pass your exam. Create a résumé that highlights your professional development coursework, fieldwork experience, and certifications. Adjust your resume to the position you are applying for. Make your resume stand out. Make your resume more focused, and do not add unnecessary details. Also, make sure that your resume aligns with the job description. if you are applying to a daycare facility, for example, and you have experience working with children, then make sure your resume highlights that. 

Benefits of Becoming A Speech-Language Pathologist 

The ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist may extend facilities (i.e., increase the frequency and intensity of services to patients or clients on their caseload), concentrate more on work that requires professional judgement, broaden the client’s accessibility to the program, and make better use of their available time and assets by hiring an assistant.

Nearly a third (30%) of those who said they oversaw speech-language pathology assistants said this practice reduced their duties, while 36% of participants said this strategy reduced their caseload, according to the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) 2018 Schools Survey Report.

Moreover, SLPs get more time to work with clients and patients with more complex needs (36% of speech-language pathologists), and they don’t need to worry about office work (33% of speech-language pathologists). 

About a quarter of speech-language pathologists who said their institution currently has one or more support staff said other implications include increasing the frequency or intensity of service and addressing staff shortages.

Responsibilities of a SLP Assistant

Conduct Code for Assistants

To assist certified assistants in their clinical work, ASHA established the Assistants Code of Conduct. For audiology assistants and speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) to operate responsibly, the highest ethical and moral standards must be maintained. The Assistant’s Code of Conduct aims to defend the reputation and moral character of professionals as well as the welfare of consumers.

The ASHA Board of Ethics has authority over applicants for the ASHA-Certified Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (C-SLPA) certification and C-SLPA holders to resolve complaints involving the Assistant’s Code of Conduct.

When performing necessary tasks related to the delivery of speech-language services, as stated in the Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Scope of Practice (2022), the SLPA should take the following actions provided that the training, supervision, and planning are appropriate:

Delivering services

  • Direct therapy services that satisfy treatment objectives created by the supervising SLP to meet the requirements of the student, patient, client, and family;
  • Developing and putting into practice activities and materials for teaching and practicing skills to address the goals of the student, patient, client, and family by the plan of care created by the supervising SLP; modifying and documenting the amount and type of support or scaffolding provided to the student, patient, or client in treatment to facilitate progress;
  • offering online services to students, patients, and clients that the supervising SLP chooses; delivering care using a variety of service delivery models (such as individual, group, classroom-based, home-based, and co-treatment with other disciplines);
  • Creating low-tech AAC materials for students, patients, and clients; programming augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices; instructing students, patients, clients, and families in the use of AAC devices;
  • Demonstrating techniques from the SLP’s developed feeding and swallowing plan and sharing knowledge with students, patients, clients, families, staff, and caregivers. Helping students, patients, and clients use feeding and swallowing techniques they have learned under the SLP’s direction when consuming different food textures and liquid consistencies.

Administrative Assistance

The SLPA may help with administrative tasks and site operations (such as scheduling, record-keeping, and maintaining an inventory of supplies and equipment), perform safety checks and equipment maintenance, and prepare materials for screening, assessment, and treatment services, depending on the situation, appropriate training, and direction from the supervising speech-language pathologist.

Protection and Promotion

The SLPA may present primary prevention information to people and groups known to be at risk for communication disorders and other suitable groups, depending on the setting, adequate training, and direction from the supervising SLP. It may also encourage early identification and early intervention activities. Furthermore, 

  • It provides information to emergency response organisations for people with communication and/or swallowing disorders; 
  • And promote early identification and early intervention activities;
  • They can also advocate for people and families through community awareness programs, health literacy, education, and other training programs to promote and facilitate access to full participation in communication—including the elimination of societal, cultural, and linguistic barriers. 

Is It Permissible For SLPAs To Help With TeleHealth Service Delivery?

The following is listed as a duty that falls under the scope of practice for SLPAs in the ASHA’s Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Scope of Practice: “Providing services via telepractice to students, patients, and clients who the supervising SLP selects.”

Consult your supervising speech-language pathologist as well as the departments of education and/or health in your state, as well as licensing agencies, state boards of education, school districts, and particular schools or other workplaces, to find out if there are any laws or requirements in place that address the use of assistants and the acceptability of telepractice. The practices vary by state and by workplace.

You’ll need to verify any payers to see what they say about telepractice and the services that SLPAs provide. 

Who is Qualified to Manage Assistants in Speech-Language Pathology?

Three types of rules and regulations need to be taken into account by supervisors and SLPAs:

ASHA recommendations in addition to the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) criteria, which are practice recommendations, are state rules that may include licensure or registration for SLPA certification.

The supervising speech-language pathologist must adhere to the following CFCC requirements:

  • Possess the required state certifications or the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) from ASHA;
  • Completion of the 9-month Clinical Fellowship followed by at least 9 months of experience;
  • Completion of at least 2 hours of professional development in clinical instruction or supervision and completion of at least 9 months of experience after receiving ASHA certification.
  • According to state regulations for SLPA supervision, it is advised that the professional development course completed for clinical supervision or instruction contain material on SLPA supervision.

According to the Assistants Code of Conduct, SLPAs are not independent practitioners and must be under the direction of certified speech-language pathologists by state licensing regulations (state licensed) and/or the ASHA’s Code of Ethics. Additionally, there needs to be enough supervision to guarantee the well-being of the client, patient, or pupil. By using the certification verification site, applicants should confirm that their clinical instructor or supervisor satisfies the aforementioned standards.

Potential Career Opportunities for SLPAs

There are a wide variety of jobs available for SLPAs in the field of speech-language pathology. They are highly employable in a wide range of settings, from public and private schools to hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and private practices, thanks to their extensive training and education.

In educational settings, SLPAs frequently assist speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in helping pupils who have difficulties communicating. Under the direction of a speech-language pathologist (SLP), they may help with tasks including assessment and therapy plan execution. In this capacity, they can greatly affect students’ intellectual and personal growth.

SLPAs might also find satisfying work in hospitals and clinics. They might collaborate with doctors to help people who have suffered strokes or other neurological disorders regain their speech. Therapists in this field can also help those who have trouble swallowing or who have voice issues.

SLPAs can also make a positive impact on their patients’ recoveries by working in rehabilitation clinics. They are useful for helping people whose communication skills have been impaired by stroke, a brain injury, or another medical condition.

Those interested in becoming SLPAs also have the option of working in private practice. Individualized treatment services for patients of all ages may be provided in this setting in collaboration with qualified SLPs.

Career options for SLPAs can range widely and provide rich experiences. These specialists, whether they work in schools or hospitals, are crucial to the success of people with communication problems and to their ability to live fulfilling lives.


Speech language pathologist assistants are like the cherry on top; they will not only improve the outcome and result but will also lessen the burden on the primary. Studies have shown that organizations thrive when they have an assistant group of employees working, just like speech-language pathology assistance.


Can SLPAs diagnose speech and language disorders?

No, SLPAs cannot diagnose speech and language disorders. Only licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have the expertise and training to assess individuals for communication disorders.

Are there specific certifications or licenses required to become an SLPA?

The requirements for becoming an SLPA vary by state. Some states may require certification or licensure, while others may not have specific regulations in place. It is important for aspiring SLPAs to research the requirements in their respective states before pursuing a career in this field.

 What settings do SLPAs typically work in?

SLPAs can work in various settings such as schools, hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, and research facilities. The demand for skilled SLPAs extends across different healthcare sectors where speech and language services are needed.

How much does an SLPA earn?

The salary of an SLPA can vary depending on factors such as experience, education level, geographic location, and employment setting. On average, however, the median annual wage for SLPAs is around $50k according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.