Arkansas Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Arkansas Speech Therapy Certification

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Communication comes easy to many of us, but there is a large part of the population that experiences difficulty when attempting to communicate effectively. Some individuals have issues with comprehension, voice, clarity, speech sound, and fluency. Those affected by these handicaps range in age from infants to elderly adults. They may have been born with the disorder or suffered an illness or injury that brought it on.

The study of speech pathology is dedicated to assessing, diagnosing, and treating speech disorders and communication difficulties. A speech-language pathologist’s (SLP’s) focus is to improve an individual’s ability to communicate.

Many professionals in this occupation choose to work autonomously and open their own practice. Others work in more collaborative settings such as hospitals, child and elderly care facilities, and schools. no matter which path you take you’ll often work alongside other healthcare professionals such as physicians and audiologists to administer the best treatment plan to your patient.

The most fulfilling aspect of the profession is that you will help others be heard and understood. Such a boost to a person’s confidence will impact their social, work, and family life positively. If this sounds like a career for you, this article will be a guide to the licensing process in Arkansas.

Arkansas Initial Speech Pathologist Licensure Process

The Arkansas Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology issues state licenses for speech-language pathologists (SLPs). According to the rules and regulations for state SLPs, the licenses are renewed annually. Keep reading to find out the other requirements for attaining and maintaining SLP licensure in Arkansas.

Education Requirements

A master’s degree in speech pathology or higher is required for SLP licensure in Arkansas. The degree needs to be in communicative sciences and disorders. Having a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is necessary to get into most programs. The admission board will also expect to review the following items:

  • A current resume or curricula vitae (CV)
  • A statement of purpose
  • Two academic letters of recommendation
  • Official undergraduate transcript
  • GRE scores

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to enter the master’s level SLP program, you will have to complete a set of prerequisite courses. Most of the courses are introductory and will give you a basic understanding of speech-language pathology. Some of the core courses you’ll take are:

  • Adult Language Disorders
  • Language Disorders in Children
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Feeding & Swallowing Disorders
  • Multi-Cultural Issues in Communicative Sciences & Disorders
  • Language, Learning, & Literacy

Choosing a program depends on a few factors and accreditation should be one of them. Accreditation ensures the program adheres to the standards set by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is the professional credentialing agency for SLPs, and accreditations are performed by a division of the organization; the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).

Visit the following page for a list of SLP programs in Arkansas.

Experience Requirements

During your master’s SLP education, you will acquire clinical hours as you learn the different methodologies and techniques used in the field. Your transcript will document these hours, and 400 are needed for licensure.

A professional work experience is needed before you can become a licensed SLP. This experience consists of 1,260 hours of direct patient contact in a clinical setting. You can choose to work full or part-time under the supervision of a licensed SLP. The length of the experience depends on how many hours you work per week. Below are the minimum number of hours needed for each corresponding time frame.

  • 36 weeks = 30 hours
  • 48 weeks = 25 hours
  • 60 weeks = 20 hours
  • 72 weeks = 15 hours

However, you’ll first need to obtain a provisional license to legally begin the experience. Eighty percent of your time is spent in direct client contact and 20% will be spent in observation. Working directly with clients includes the following activities:

  • Patient/family consultations
  • Record keeping
  • Patient assessments
  • Patient diagnosis
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient management
  • Patient/family counseling

Any work related to client management can be counted as direct contact. Activities that won’t count toward your professional experience are administrative tasks, formal teaching, and research.

All of this work is overseen by an SLP who is there to guide you and help sharpen your skill set. Supervisors must have at least two years of work after the completion of their CFY. So that they can dedicate the time and attention they need, supervisors are not allowed to oversee more than two full-time and three part-time employees at a time.

A training program will be developed and implemented for each employee. Throughout the program, your performance will be documented, and feedback provided at regular intervals. This is when you make the transition from the classroom to the field.

At the end of the CFY, your supervisor will provide you with evidence of completing the professional experience.

Testing Requirement

The national exam for speech-language pathology is Praxis 5331. The test is ASHA-approved and in addition to licensure, one of the benefits of passing is you are eligible for ASHA certification.

The 132 multiple choice question test is computer-based and you are given 2.5 hours to take it. Fortunately, a practice exam is available so you can monitor your time and pace yourself on the big day. There are three different categories; Foundations and Professional Practice; Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis; Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation Of Treatment.

Every section is equally 1/3 of your grade and comprises 44 questions each. The registration cost is $146 and you could complete the process online, by mail, or by phone. Registering by phone has an additional surcharge fee of $35. The educational testing service (ETS) Has a tool on its website that allows you to find and schedule a test date.

Take the exam at one of the testing centers or at home. At home, tests are administered by ProctorU and monitored by a live proctor. If you need to reschedule your exam date the fee is $40.

There is the possibility that you will get nervous on exam day and not receive a passing score of 162. The good news is you are allowed to take the test as many times as needed over the next two years. The only condition is you must wait 28 days between scheduling dates.

The practice exam isn’t the only resource for studying. There are test prep materials on the ETS website you can use to help you pass. Also, check with your school administrators and other faculty members to find out the resources they have for students.

Background Checks

A pre-licensure criminal background check (CBC) is performed on all SLP applicants. You’ll first need to ask the Board for a Criminal Background Check Petition form and mail it to:

Arkansas Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
4815 West Markham Street
Slot 72
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205

The board will then respond in writing with its decision.

The information provided by the CBC includes state felony and misdemeanor convictions, pending state felony arrests within the last three years, and whether you are a level 1-4 sex offender or are required to register as one.

This Arkansas State Police background check Is name based but it also checks for arrests based on fingerprints. Once the check is completed the decision is sent to the board to review with the SLP application. From there a determination is made as to either grant or deny licensure.

Application Process

As mentioned previously, before you can begin a clinical fellowship, you’ll need a provisional license to work with patients. Start the process by sending the following documents to ABESPA:

If you don’t have a master’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, ASHA certification is sufficient. Mail the above documents to:

Arkansas Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
101 East Capitol, Ste. 103
Little Rock, AR 72201

Once the Board receives and reviews all of the information, they will issue a provisional license after about two months. After finishing your CFY you have 30 days to submit proof of completion to the ABESPA to have the provisional status removed and obtain your SLP license.

Be sure to send in the following information to complete the process:

  • Official master’s degree transcript or ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC)
  • Proof of completing clinical hour requirement or ASHA CCC
  • Passing Praxis score
  • If licensed in another state, provide proof the license is in good standing

Applicants for initial licensure are given a grace period to practice while their application is processed. Once the Board receives your application packet, they will mail a letter informing you that your grace period has begun.