Arizona Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Arizona SLPA Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) have a very important role in health care. They provide much-needed relief for busy speech-language pathologists by performing tasks like patient consultations, assessments, and research.

If the field of communication sciences and disorders is of interest to you, the role of an SLPA is a great introduction. You’ll be exposed to a wide range of disorders and affected populations. As you continue working you’ll gain insight into which career path you’d like to take and the setting you’d prefer.

SLPAs can be found in hospitals, residential care facilities, and schools working under a licensed mentor who will provide the instruction and feedback needed to improve your skill set. And if you’re wondering about job availability, you can rest easy knowing that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the career to grow 54.6% from 2020 to 2030 in Arizona and to grow 28.7% from 2020 to 2030 (BLS Employment Projections) nationally.

An increase in demand for SLPs means there will be more opportunities for SLPAs as well. So don’t hesitate to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist assistant as the predicted job growth shows a need for these essential healthcare professionals. The following article will provide a guide to licensure in Arizona.

Initial Speech Pathology Assistant Licensure Process

SLPA licenses are renewed every two years and issued by the Arizona Department of Public Health. You can find more information about the state rules and statutes on the department’s website.

Education Requirements

The minimum credential needed to become a licensed SLPA in Arizona comes from completing a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant program approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Equivalent programs from nationally or regionally accredited institutions are also acceptable for SLPA licensure. The coursework should total 60 semester credit hours and include the following content:

  • 24-40 credit hours of general education
  • 24-40 credit hours of speech-language pathology technical coursework
  • At least 100 hours of supervised direct clinical interaction by a qualified SLP

The curriculum will be an introduction to the causes of communication disorders and the impacts they have on different populations. Some of the core courses you will take include:

  • Communication Disorders in Society
  • Communication Development in Children
  • SLPA Professional Issues
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Swallowing
  • Phonetics
  • SLPA Clinical Skills
  • Intro to Clinical Practice in Communication Disorders
  • Clinical Interaction in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

One of the things you want to look for when selecting an SLPA program is its accreditation. The Council of Academic Accreditation (CAA) sets the national standards and accredits speech-language pathology programs in the United States (U.S.). The CAA is an entity of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is the leading SLP credentialing organization in the U.S.

Admittance into an SLPA program typically requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. Attend an in-person training or enroll in a remote online program.

Although it’s not required for licensure, if you want ASHA SLPA certification, you’ll need to complete an hour in each of the following courses:

  • Ethics
  • Universal Safety Precautions
  • Patient/Client/Student Confidentiality Training (i.e., HIPAA)

Experience Requirements

SLPAs must receive at least 100 hours of supervised clinical interaction by a master’s level licensed SPL. The supervisor cannot have had any disciplinary actions against their license within the previous two years and must be eligible for licensure in any state.

During the first 90 days of the clinical interaction, the assistant must be supervised directly 20% of the time, and indirectly 10% of the time. After the initial 90 days, at least 10% of the time is spent under direct supervision, and another 10% is spent under indirect supervision.

It is up to the supervisor’s discretion to adjust the time spent overseeing the assistant’s work. If it’s determined that the assistant meets the skill level and embodies the competencies needed to work with communication-related disorders under an assistant’s scope of practice, then the supervisor can spend less time monitoring the employee.

If you enter the program having completed the clinical interaction requirements at a previous employer, the supervisor on the new job will only need to monitor your work for the first 30 days before adjusting the time you spend under supervision.

Testing Requirement

No national exam is required for SLPA licensure in Arizona. But you can apply to take ASHA’s Assistant’s Certification Exam to be recognized nationally as a competent professional. Prometric is the organization delivering the exam on ASHA’s behalf, making the test available at centers all over the U.S. Exams are also conveniently available online.

The Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) is the organization that determines the passing score, which is currently 162. This exam is graded on a scale of 100-200 and is designed to test your knowledge of your role’s scope of practice, basic daily tasks assistants perform, and how an assistant is supervised.

First, you need to apply to be approved to sit for the exam, then pay the $249 certification fee, and submit your official transcripts. The certification fee includes one year of ASHA affiliation and all the accompanying perks. Your application is then placed under review, which can take six weeks to process.

After being approved, you can schedule a test date once you receive your Exam Eligibility ID. Registration can be completed online, over the phone, or by mail. You are given one year from the date you were given the eligibility ID to register for the test. Find out more about navigating the registration process by downloading the SLPA Exam Blueprint.

If you did not receive specific academic training in an SLPA’s roles and responsibilities, you will also have to complete ASHA’s Online Education Modules for Assistants.

Should you need to retake the test you can do so up to two more times and the retest fee is $99. If you require more time, you will have to submit a new application and pay the initial application fee of $249.

When you receive your passing score, you are permitted to begin using the C-SLPA credential when conducting business. Maintaining the credential involves paying the annual certification fees, following ASHA’s Assistants Code of Conduct, and completing the certification maintenance assessment module.

Background Checks

Employment background checks are required for healthcare professionals working with vulnerable populations. To start the process, an applicant for SLPA licensure must contact the Applicant Clearance Card Team to request a Fingerprint Clearance Card (FCC).

Create an account on the Public Service Portal (PSP) to submit and check the status of your application. All communication regarding your background check will be found here. Requests for fingerprint cards are processed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS). You’ll receive a Reference Number to use when getting fingerprinted to complete the request.

Paper applications are also accepted. Request one over the phone by calling (602) 223-2279, and it will be mailed, or visit the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Service Center at 2222 W. Encanto Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85009. Employers usually have these forms on hand as well.

Choose to have your prints taken electronically if you’re in-state, or with a paper card. After submitting your prints AZDPS will review the results and determine whether you are eligible for a Fingerprint Clearance Card. A criminal history or any activity the Department recognizes as potentially harmful to public citizens can disqualify you from receiving a fingerprint card.

The fee for this background check is $67 and depending on where you’re fingerprinted, you may be responsible for additional costs. Your fingerprints are checked against the Arizona state and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) databases.

Individuals who submit the paper application and have no criminal history can expect to have their applications processed in less than ten days. Applicants with a criminal history must allow up to 30 working days for the results of their background check.

Electronic applications with no criminal history are processed in as little as two days. Those with criminal history records will take up to 30 days to complete.

Application Process

Applications for SLPA licenses can be downloaded, completed, and mailed to:

Arizona Bureau of Special Licensing
150 North 18th Avenue
Suite 410
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Include the following items with the form:

  • Academic transcript or equivalent documentation from an accredited institution
  • Supervised Clinical Interaction Experience form
  • Arizona Statement of Citizenship or Alien Status
  • $100 initial application fee
  • $200 initial license fee

Allow up to 30 days for the Department to process the application and notify you of your licensure status.