I know what you might be thinking. You go to school for six years, earn your Masters degree and after you graduate, you STILL have to learn!
The field of Speech Language Pathology is quite broad. We have to know so much about so many areas that most SLPs tend to specialize. SLPs work in the areas of swallowing, language, motor speech, aphasia, cognition, reading, fluency and voice just to name a few.
Continuing education is a requirement of ASHA, which requires 30 hours every 3 years or 3.0 continuing education units. Each state has it’s own guidelines. I live in Indiana, so every 2 years I have to have 36 hours of continuing education or 3.6 continuing education units.
There are literally thousands of continuing education courses between live courses, online courses, state conventions and national conventions.
There are also certification programs available. You can receive certification or specialized training in many areas in the Speech Pathology realm, but that is really another blog post.
Many SLPs work in all areas. I live in a rural area and at times, may be the only SLP in a 40 mile radius. There are times it is difficult for me to specialize because I see patients of all ages with a variety of diagnoses.
Some SLPs specialize in pediatrics or adults. Some SLPs prefer to work in a school setting while others work in a medical setting such as a hospital, nursing home or in home health.
As an SLP you can actually specialize through the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and receive a specialty certification in 1 (or more) of 4 areas. ASHA offers specialty in Child Language and Language Disorders, Fluency and Fluency Disorders, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders or Intraoperative Monitoring.
The ASHA website states that “Through the implementation of the specialty certification program, speech-language pathologists and audiologists are provided the opportunity to earn a formalized credential recognizing advanced knowledge and skills in a specialized area of practice.
When you receive your specialty certification in any of the 4 areas you are identified as a specialist in your respective area allowing perspective patients and/or families to access your name and contact information from the ASHA website. This also helps in the referral process when attempting to find an SLP.
So, now that you know these specialty areas exist, what do you have to do to apply?
For Child Language and Language Disorders, you must have your ASHA CCCs, verify 5 years of experience with an emphasis on child language, document advanced educational experiences in child language and language disorders and demonstrate advanced knowledge, experiences and skills in child language.
To earn your specialty in Fluency and Fluency Disorders you must hold the ASHA CCCs, have 5 years experience as an SLP after earning your CCCs, document 450 clinical hours in the area of fluency and fluency disorders and document 10 CEUs in intermediate or advanced training in fluency.
If you are interested in dysphagia, you may want to consider earning your certification in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. To earn this specialty, you need to have your CCCs and 3 years of clinical experience, 75 hours of continuing education in dysphagia, 350 clock hours assessing, treating or counseling in swallowing and swallowing disorders and document advanced skills.
If audiology is more your thing, you may want to consider Intraoperative Monitoring. Again, you must have your ASHA CCCs, you must complete a minimum of 225 intraoperative neuromonitoring cases, 60 hours of continuing education and verification of cases.
For most specialty areas, you will pay a fee and take a test or complete a case portfolio.
Interested in specializing? Check out the ASHA website here for further information.