California Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: CA SLPA Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Are you interested in joining a team of medical professionals as they consult and assess patient issues while researching to find the best treatment approaches? Then you should consider a career as a speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA).

As a support personnel working under the supervision and tutelage of a speech-language pathologist, you will assist in addressing speech, hearing, language, cognition, or swallowing impairments. You’ll work with all ages from young children to older adults in a variety of settings, including private practices, nursing facilities, schools, hospitals, and the client’s home.

Many of the SLPA programs required for licensure in California don’t take more than a year to complete. That means you can begin earning money as a licensed professional quickly. And, the sooner you begin working in the field the sooner you’ll be able to determine which area you’d like to specialize in if any. The assistant role is a great way to gain a firmer understanding of the profession.

Each state has its own requirements for SLPA licensure and California is no exception. So, keep reading to discover what you’ll need to begin your journey to becoming a licensed speech-language pathology assistant.

California Initial Speech Pathology Assistant Licensure Process

In California, speech-language pathology assistant licenses are granted by the Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology & Hearing Dispensers Board (SLPAHDB). Licensees are required to renew their certification every two years and stay abreast of the state’s laws and regulations governing the profession.

Education Requirements

Speech-language pathologist assistants in California must hold one of the following qualifying degrees to be eligible for licensure:

  • Associate of arts degree from an SLPA program; or
  • Associate of sciences degree from an SLPA program; or
  • Bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology; or
  • Bachelor’s degree in communication disorders

Search for programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), the official accrediting body for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Here you can find all different types of speech pathology programs offered in California. Many licensed professionals in the speech-language pathology field also seek ASHA certification to increase employment opportunities and professional credibility. Completing a CAA-accredited program is the only way to become ASHA certified.

In addition to the courses your academic institution requires, ASHA certification needs you to complete one hour of each of these classes: Ethics, Universal Safety Precautions, and Patient Confidentiality.

Degree-specific courses will include:

  • Introduction to Phonetic
  • Child Disorders and Treatment
  • Adult Disorders and Treatment
  • Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Clinical experiences are also part of the academic training, which will be covered in the next section.

Experience Requirements

Gaining the proper real-world experience needed to successfully treat patients is essential to your learning. Supervised training in clinical settings is how this goal is accomplished. It is where you will begin to work with patients directly and indirectly and develop a deeper understanding of the assistant’s role.

A minimum of 70 hours of fieldwork or clinical experience in a bachelor’s level program focused on speech-language pathology or communication disorders is required for SLPA licensure. Proof of completing the hourly requirement and earning an SLPA associate of arts or science degree that meets ASHA’s training guidelines is also accepted.

Supervisors must be licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and are not permitted to supervise more than two assistants at a time. At the end of the experience, your supervisor will complete a Fieldwork Experience Verification Form that you both must sign.

Testing Requirement

There is no national exam that must be passed for SLPA licensure in California. However, ASHA-certified SLPAs take a test approved by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC).

The certification fee is $249 and includes a year of ASHA affiliation. The exam is designed to assess how well you understand the assistants’ scope of practice, how to perform basic tasks, and the supervision requirements.

The exam is graded on a scale of 100-200 and contains 100 multiple-choice questions. The current passing score is 162. You can retake the test up to two more times within the year following the initial approval to sit for the exam. Simply pay the $99 retest fee and schedule a new exam date.

Use the online exam resources to study and prepare for the test. Review the sample questions, SLPA Exam Blueprint, and Scope of Practice for the Speech-Language Pathology Assistant document. Once your exam is graded, you’ll be notified of your certification and can begin using the C-SLPA credential professionally.

Background Checks

Criminal background checks for SLPAs can be completed through electronic fingerprinting or using a paper fingerprint card. Only applicants living in California can use Live Scan’s services to have their fingerprints taken electronically. Out-of-state applicants have to download the fingerprint card template to take to a qualified fingerprinting location.

The fee for processing the paper fingerprinting card is $49. Live Scan vendors will charge $32 for a state record check, and $17 to check federal records. Both of these fingerprint checks are required, and you may be required to pay additional fees depending on the Live Scan site. Always call before visiting so you are fully prepared.

Mail fingerprinting cards to:

Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers Board
1601 Response Road
Suite 260
Sacramento, CA 95815

Allow 30-60 days for processing.

Application Process

Submit your application online through the Board’s online license portal and use your credit card for payment. These items are also required for licensure:

After the license has been approved and before you begin working, you need to submit a Supervisor Responsibility Statement at least 14 days before your first day. Send the form to:

Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology & Hearing Dispensers Board
1601 Response Road
Suite 260
Sacramento, CA 95815

Another option is to download the application and mail it to the address listed above. It can take 4-8 weeks to process the information depending on the time of year it was sent. May through October are the Board’s busiest months, so expect longer processing times during those periods.