District of Columbia Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: DC Speech Therapy Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Are you contemplating a future as a healthcare provider who spends their days drastically improving patients’ lives? Are you interested in communication and how different disorders impact an individual’s ability to interact with others? If your answer to these questions is yes, you should consider a career in speech-language pathology.

When most people think of the field they envision a therapist helping someone overcome a fluency disorder like stuttering, and slurred or delayed speech. But speech-language pathologists (SLPs) do so much more.

Many of their clients have autism, hearing loss, developmental delay, a brain injury, psychological issues, and other causes behind the speech-language disorder. SLPs are often a member of a larger rehabilitation team for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools just to name a few settings. They treat speech issues, language problems, and related disorders such as swallowing.

SLPs also work with individuals who have difficulties formulating sentences, concentrating, and memorizing. The education requirements for SLPs are extensive as they have the extremely important task of improving a person’s communication abilities. Improved communication skills lead to a better quality of life for patients.

The District of Columbia is a historic area full of helpful resources for new and experienced SLPs. If you’re moving to the area or already reside in Capitol City, the bottom 10% and top 10% earn between $76,680 and $137,940 (Bureau of Labor Statistics - 2022) as a licensed SLP respectively. Continue reading this guide to discover the eligibility requirements for licensure in the jurisdiction.

District of Columbia Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Process

The District of Columbia Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology grants licensure for speech-language pathologists in the jurisdiction. Every two years licensees must meet continuing education (CE) requirements before being renewed. Find more information regarding the rules and regulations on the Board’s website.

Education Requirements

SLP licensure in Washington D.C. requires applicants to hold a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, or higher. The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology is the accrediting organization for SLP programs.

You’ll need a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 to be admitted to the program. Most programs also require three academic letters of recommendation, a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology, and an interview with the program faculty.

The SLP program is designed to teach students the fundamental knowledge needed to perform basic and complex tasks in the field. That’s why you’ll take classes with titles like the following:

  • Neuroanatomy of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism
  • Language Disorders
  • Stuttering
  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Speech Science
  • Aphasia
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Voice Disorders

During the program, you will also interact with patients during clinical practicums to gain hands-on experience, which is covered in the next section.

Here you can find all District of Columbia speech pathology degree programs.

Experience Requirements

Clinical practicums provide the transitional framework students need to move from the classroom to the field. These are supervised experiences in which your work will be observed by a qualified instructor. A total of 400 hours is needed upon graduation to be eligible for licensure.

Your clinical practicum will begin while in undergraduate school if speech-language pathology is your major. During that time, you’ll acquire about 50 hours that will carry over to the master’s program.

If speech-language pathology was not your major, you will have to complete the required hours during the master’s program. Twenty-five hours are spent in guided observation while the remaining 375 are spent in direct patient contact.

After completing the master’s level SLP program, your clinical fellowship (CF) will begin. The CF is a paid work experience. You have the option of working full or part-time depending on your scheduling needs. An experienced SLP will mentor you throughout the 1,260-hour experience.

Full-timers can complete the CF in 36 weeks by working at least 35 hours each week. Part-timers must work more than five hours per week to remain in the CF. If you work less than five hours a week, that time won’t count toward your total hours.

The CF is divided into three segments, each lasting 12 weeks. Eighty percent of the experience is spent in direct clinical contact with patients, and 20% is spent in observation. Direct clinical contact activities include:

  • Treatment
  • Assessment/diagnostic evaluations
  • Family/client counseling/consultation
  • Writing reports
  • Billing
  • Patient screening, Response to Intervention, and observation

Before you can begin the CF, both you and the supervisor must sign the Supervisor Practice Form confirming the supervision requirements outlined by the Board will be followed. You also have to register with the Board by providing the following:

  • A complete signed application
  • Two recent 2×2 passport photos
  • Social Security Number or Sworn Affidavit
  • Photocopy of government-issued photo ID
  • Name Change Documents if applicable
  • Official master’s or doctoral transcript from an accredited institution
  • Criminal Background Check
  • $210.00 application and license fee

Once the Board approves the form, you will be able to start working under the SLP.

Testing Requirement

Each licensed SLP in Washington D.C. passed the national Praxis Speech-Language Pathology (5331) exam. The Education Testing Service administers the test on behalf of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). To sit for the exam, you must register and pay the $146 fee. Registration can be done online, by phone, or by mail. Once you schedule the exam, it can be rescheduled three days before the test date to avoid forfeiting the registration fee.

The computer-based exam can be taken at home through ProctorU, or at one of the many Prometric test centers in the area. Those who choose to take the exam from home have the option of testing any day of the week. It’s important to check your equipment to avoid any technical issues on exam day. Make sure your area is quiet and free of traffic as you will be monitored over the camera by a live proctor.

If you travel to a test center, be sure to bring a photo ID and your admission ticket. Call ahead to find out if they have any health and safety procedures you should follow.

The test comprises 132 multiple-choice questions graded on a scale of 100-200. To become licensed, you’ll need a score of 162. There are several online resources to help you receive that passing score. However, if you don’t pass the first time, you can take the test as many times as needed within the next two years. The only restriction is you must wait 28 days before scheduling the next exam.

The final score will be posted to your Praxis account and sent to any institutions you requested during the registration process.

Background Checks

Licensed health professionals in the District of Columbia are required to be fingerprinted for a criminal background check (CBC). The Department of Health (DOH) obtains background check information from the United States (U.S.) Department of Justice (DOJ).

Payments and appointments are completed online within the license application. Upon reaching the section authorizing the background check, enter the mandatory information and you’ll be prompted to locate a fingerprint collection site in your area. Your appointment number and a six-letter code will be emailed to you along with the link to schedule the fingerprint collection.

Take your appointment number and two forms of identification to the collection site to be fingerprinted electronically. Your fingerprints are then submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and searched against their criminal database. The FBI sends its findings to FieldPrint and they forward the report to the Board.

International students have to visit the CBC Payment Portal to create an account. Follow the instructions and print the confirmation page at the end of the process. Take that page and submit it to FieldPrint along with the fingerprint card to:

Attn: FieldPrint
12000 Commerce Parkway
Suite 100
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

The background results are sent to DC Health within a few weeks. If you have any issues or questions, contact FieldPrint Customer Service at: (877) 614-4364 or customerservice@fieldprint.com. You can also reach out to DC Health at doh.cbcu@dc.gov.

Application Process

Paper applications are no longer accepted by the Board. Instead, the paperwork is submitted through the DC Health online portal. Visit the site to apply for a new license which will take 30-60 minutes to complete.

Temporary licenses are issued to applicants holding an unrestricted license, certificate, or registration in another state if the information listed below is supplied:

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or approved exemption
  • Compliance with the CBC
  • $246 application fee

Your temporary license is only good for 90 days, or until your application has been approved or denied. These licenses are not eligible for renewal.

To attain your permanent SLP license, you’ll need to submit the following list of documents:

  • A complete signed application for DC License
  • Two recent passport-size photos
  • Social Security Number or Sworn Affidavit
  • Copy of government-issued ID
  • Name change documents if applicable
  • Official school transcript
  • Proof of passing Praxis exam 5331 five (5) years before applying for licensure; OR
    • If the National Exam was taken more than five years ago you must submit:
      • Proof that you’ve practiced as an SLP for 3 of the 5 previous years before applying for licensure.
      • A Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA or proof of National Examination
  • Proof of completion of Clinical Fellowship or proof of ASHA Certification
  • Criminal Background Check
  • $264 application and license fee

Upload the supporting documents for the corresponding section of the application when it appears. Please be sure to provide all required information to avoid processing delays. You will be sent your license via email once it has been issued.