Colorado Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Colorado Speech Therapy Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Speech-language pathology is a growing field and one of the healthcare professions that need workers. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are communication experts who assist people of all ages with communication and swallowing disorders. SLPs can be found in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, childcare centers, outpatient facilities, and nonprofit organizations.

SLPs treat conditions that affect speech sounds, fluency, voice, cognitive communication, and more. They give patients and their families tools and techniques to improve their condition. Augmentative and alternative communication systems are taught to individuals with expressive or language comprehension disorders, like autism spectrum disorder.

As researchers, SLPs use a combination of scientific, empirical, and experimental methodologies in deciding how to approach the delivery of effective services. Speech-language pathology has much to offer individuals who want to pursue the occupation, including job satisfaction.

As one of the Rocky Mountain States, Colorado provides a wonderfully vast and scenic background for your SLP practice. Not to mention, the state is also one of the highest paying for the profession, with an annual mean wage of $101,230 (Bureau of Labor Statistics - 2022). So, if you’re convinced that becoming an SLP is right for you, continue reading to discover the qualification for licensure in Colorado.

Colorado Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Process:

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) sets the state’s licensure requirements for speech-language pathologists (SLPs). SLP licenses are renewed annually and licensees need to acquire earn continuing education (CE) credits as a condition for renewal. Learn more about the other rules and regulations for licensure on DORA’s website.

Education Requirements

SLPs must have a master’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders. If your undergraduate degree was in the same or a closely related major, you won’t have to take the standard prerequisite courses. However, if your major was unrelated, classes like Physiology of Communication, Language Sciences, and Development of Speech and Language will have to be completed first.

Most SLP programs in Colorado require an updated resume, statement of purpose, at least two letters of recommendation, official undergraduate transcripts, and GRE scores. If traveling to campus for classes just won’t fit your schedule, Colorado also offers excellent online SLP programs.

In addition to finding a program that conveniently works with your schedule, you should also be certain it is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The organization is a division of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the national, scientific credentialing agency in the United States (U.S.).

The standard core courses include:

  • Language Dictation
  • Language Learning Disabilities
  • Cognitive Disorders
  • Communication and neuroscience
  • Disorders of Language and Literacy
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Advanced Topics in Social Communication
  • Neurogenic Speech Disorders

The electives chosen will heavily depend on which handicaps or populations you want to make your career focus.

Experience Requirements

While attending the master’s program you will have the opportunity to gain more hands-on experience with clients through clinical practicums. The practicums typically have an hourly requirement that must be met, and they begin in undergraduate school if your major is in or related to communication disorders. If the bachelor’s degree is in an unrelated field, you will have to make up the hours during graduate school.

Some universities only require students to obtain 300 clinical practicum hours to become licensed. However, if you want to earn a certificate of clinical competence (CCC) from ASHA, you’ll need 400 practicum hours. Of the 400 hours, 375 are spent in direct contact with patients and 25 are spent in observation.

ASHA certification is a professional credential that helps you stand out among other SLPs. It shows you’ve gone beyond what the state requires for licensing and have taken it upon yourself to further your education so you can provide top-level service.

After graduating, the next experience needed for licensure and ASHA certification is the Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY). During this year, you will complete a minimum of 1,260 clinical hours over 36 weeks. This is a full-time work experience that will expose you to a variety of disorders, settings, and populations.

If working part-time is more convenient, you will need additional weeks to meet the required hours. Just keep in mind that you cannot work less than 5 hours per week during the fellowship experience. Eighty percent of the experience will be spent working directly with patients. A few examples of direct contact are:

  • Assessment/diagnostic evaluations
  • Family/client consultation
  • Treatment
  • Billing
  • Writing Reports

The other 20% of your time will be spent in activities like attending in-services or providing training.

Remember that all clinical experiences are supervised by a licensed, active SLP. The supervisor is expected to oversee your work during the experiences, provide regular and structured feedback, and verify the completion of hours. All forms needed to verify your experience can be found in the online licensing portal.

Testing Requirement

The Praxis 5331 Speech-Language Pathology exam is the national test that assesses your readiness for independent practice in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, and schools.

The exam contains 132 multiple-choice questions to be completed in 2.5 hours. The questions are split into three categories: Foundations and Professional Practice; Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis; Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment.

When registering for the exam you can select the test format, at home or a testing center.  Choose a date and pay the $146 exam fee. You can register online, by mail, or by phone. Please note that registering over the phone requires an additional $35 surcharge.

Arrive at the testing facility 15 minutes before your scheduled time on exam day. Make sure you take two forms of valid identification, one being a photo ID. Leave personal items like bags, notebooks, and food at home or in your vehicle.

You’ll need a laptop or desktop with a speaker, microphone, and camera to take the exam remotely. Download and install the ETS Secure Test Browser for Windows or Mac to ensure you have the proper technology to take the exam when the time comes. The test environment must be private, and no foot traffic is allowed, so ask roommates, children, and any other household members to steer clear until you are finished.

A human proctor will be assigned to your test, and they will ask you to show them the room by moving the camera around. They must check that the area is completely free of materials you are not allowed to have.

The passing score is 162 on a scale of 100-200. If you fail, you can take the test again in 28 days. Take extra time to study if you need to as you have two years to pass and earn your license. Use the exam prep materials available online to keep your knowledge sharp.

Background Checks

Criminal history checks are not required for licensure unless you are working in a childcare facility. Your information is put through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) databases. The following systems checks are performed:

  • Child abuse and neglect records
  • State sex offender registry
  • State criminal history

The Background Investigation Unit (BIU) works with the CBI to complete the fingerprint-based check. Two third-party vendors have been contracted participants for the Colorado Applicant Background Services (CABS) program, Idemia and American BioIdentity. Idemia uses IndentoGO sites to collect fingerprints. Simply choose a vendor and schedule an appointment on their website.

Please note that physical fingerprint cards are no longer accepted, so you will have to have your prints captured electronically. The FBI check fee is $22, and the CBI fee is $17.50. The fingerprinting center will charge a $10 transaction fee bringing the total cost of the background check to $49.50.

The process of gathering the prints, submitting them for review, and receiving the results can take 4-8 weeks. If your fingerprints are rejected, you will have to be re-fingerprinted. Find more information about the procedure on the Colorado Department of Early Childhood website.

While a background check may not be part of the licensing process, it is part of the hiring process for any facility that hires you. Always refer to potential employers to discover the organization’s background check requirements.

Application Process

Before you can receive full SLP licensure, you must complete the clinical fellowship under a provisional license. The license is only issued once and cannot be renewed or reinstated. Provisional licenses expire after two years, or once you’ve been granted or denied licensure.

Here are the qualifications for provisional licensure:

  • Pass the national exam
  • Hold a master’s degree in Communication Sciences
  • Proof of social security number or individual tax identification number
  • Submit a Social Security Number Affidavit if you’re a foreign national
  • Attestation to only practice while supervised by an SLP with a CCC
  • Attestation to obtain professional liability insurance
  • Attestation that a plan to complete your clinical fellowship has been developed
  • Required fee

After completing the clinical fellowship, the last step to obtaining a permanent SLP license is to submit an application. The following is a checklist of items needed to complete the application process:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree or higher in Communication Sciences and Disorders from an accredited university
  • Evidence of completing a clinical fellowship
  • Evidence of passing the national exam; or
    • Hold a Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC)
  • $145 application fee

Access and complete the application online to have it reviewed by an Application Specialist. If additional information is needed the specialist will contact you via email, which is the Division of Professions and Occupations’ preferred method of communication. Therefore, be sure the email address on the application is up to date.

View the status of the application by visiting the licensing portal, where it will remain for one year as you send in all required documents. If the information isn’t received within that time frame, the application will be purged and a new one will have to be submitted.

The online service portal is not available for mobile devices, so you will need a laptop or desktop computer to access the system.