Florida Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: FL SLPA Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Millions of people in the United States experience a voice, language, speech, or swallowing disorder. These individuals need the help of a professional to improve their communication and lead a more fulfilling life. Speech-language pathologist assistants (SLPAs) work alongside speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to diagnose conditions and administer treatment plans.

When someone has trouble communicating, it impacts how they process and produce language. Subsequently, the individual’s confidence level lowers, which then affects how and whether or not they interact with others. Helping a patient overcome their condition is life-changing for them and extremely fulfilling for the SLPAs.

Speech-language pathologist assistants do not have autonomy in their role and must work under a licensed SLP. They assist with screenings, documenting patient information, research, and clerical duties, just to name a few of their daily tasks. However, they are not trained in the clinical interpretation of assessments.

Because you’d work with a diverse population of ages and backgrounds and would be assisting your clients with one of the most important aspects of the human experience, there’s no surprise that licensure is necessary for SLPAs. But what are the steps to obtaining a license?

In the following guide, you’ll find a detailed explanation of the education, experience, and testing requirements, as well as the application and renewal process. So, keep reading to find out how to become a licensed SLPA in the sunshine state of Florida.

Initial Speech Pathology Licensure Process:

Speech-language pathologist assistant licenses are issued by the Florida Department of health and must be renewed biennially. The credentialing organization for SLPAs is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). For more about Florida’s statutes and rules for SLPAs, click here.

Education Requirements

Each state’s education requirements for SLPA licensure differ, if it’s required at all. Florida asks applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. You will also have to earn a minimum of 24 semester hours broken down as follows:

  • Nine hours in foundational courses covering normal human growth and development, hearing and language, psychology, and normal development and use of speech.
  • Fifteen hours of informational and observational courses on speech, hearing, general phonetics, basic articulation, language disorders, basic audiometry, screening, therapy, or auditory training.

ASHA has its own set of prerequisites that must also be completed before you can take the SLPA exam. You must take an hour in each of the following courses:

  • Ethics: This course covers professionalism, inter-professionalism, ethics within advertising, marketing, and social media, cultural competence, and more.
  • Universal Safety Precautions: You’ll learn about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protocols and definitions for approaching infection control and handling human blood and body fluids.
  • Patient Confidentiality: The coursework will focus on the administrative, physical, and technical areas of patient confidentiality. That includes maintaining records, social media postings, and more.

If you haven’t completed certain academic training regarding an assistant’s role, ASHA has online education modules for you to take. You can register and purchase the modules directly on the ASHA website for $49 per set. The SLP assistant set comprises six modules that take an average of three hours to complete.

Experience Requirements

SLPAs receive on-the-job training from the SLP in the form of instruction, demonstration, and visual observation. Once the training is over, the SLPA can only perform planned, directly supervised services.

This on-the-job training, or clinical practicum, has a minimum requirement of 100 hours that must be completed. Eighty hours should be spent directly serving patients, clients, or students. The remaining twenty hours are spent performing indirect patient, client, or student services.

Direct supervision is defined as having an ASHA-certified SLP physically present in the same facility when an SLPA is carrying out their assigned responsibilities. SLPAs must also wear a nametag or other type of identification that identifies them as an assistant.

Direct clinical contact includes screening speech, hearing, and language, administering assessment tools and therapy services, and assisting the SLP during an assessment. Indirect clinical contact consists of reviewing session notes with the SLP, preparing materials, attending consultations, documenting screen and treatment results, and entering and recording patient data.

ASHA Certification Testing Options (not required for licensure)

Once you’re ready to become a licensed SLPA, you will have the option to take the national ASHA SLPA certification exam. The test is approved by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC). The exam is designed to ensure you understand the scope of practice as an assistant, what it means to be supervised, and the basic tasks of the role. While the ASHA SLPA certification is not required for licensure, it can be something that sets you apart for jobs and provide you with the ability to quickly apply and receive SLPA licensure in other states that require it.

ASHA Certification Requirements

You cannot sit for the exam until you’ve received a notice of approval from ASHA and paid the $249 initial certification fee. The cost also includes one year of ASHA affiliation. Prometric administers the exam at one of its many testing centers throughout the U.S. You can also take the test through the online proctoring service. At this time, the CFCC considers 162 a passing score.

Before you sit for the 100 multiple choice question test, review the SLPA Exam Blueprint to know what format and content to expect. Create a realistic study plan based on the information in the exam blueprint and stick with it.

You’ll have one year after approval to register for the SLPA test. When you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you’ll receive an Exam Eligibility ID link. Use that link to schedule the test date and location.

Once your exam is graded, the score is automatically sent to ASHA, and you are notified of the results. If you do not pass, you can retake the test at least twice more within a year of your original approval. If you don’t pass within that year, your application will be closed, and you’ll have to reapply. The retesting fee is $99 for applicants.

ASHA provides plenty of resources to help you pass the exam. Study the sample questions, or use the exam blueprint to find specific topics so you can brush up on areas you aren’t confident about. Visit ASHA’s website for a full list of exam resources.

Background Checks

Each applicant is subject to a criminal background check. The state wants to ensure the individuals issued licenses are not only competent but professional, ethical, and safe. Anyone who has pled or been found guilty of charges must disclose that information. The application has a designated area for this information.

If you were convicted of a crime, you might still be considered for licensure if you submit the following:

  • A written explanation describing the event and circumstances surrounding the offense in your own words.
  • The final disposition record for the offense.
  • Probation and financial sanction records.

The process is similar if you’ve received disciplinary action regarding any licensure you currently have or had. You’ll have to provide a self-explanation of the action taken against you, and the licensing agency must provide all documentation related to the matter. The information will then be reviewed, and you will be informed of the final decision.

Application Process

Applications can be processed online through Florida’s Medical Quality Assurance (MQA) portal. If you’d prefer to mail in a paper application, send it, all supporting documents, and the appropriate fees to the following address:

Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
P.O. Box 6330
Tallahassee, FL 32314-6330

If you’re simply sending additional documents as requested to finish processing the application, those would be sent to this address:

Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin C06
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3256

Make all money orders and checks payable to the Department of Health. The total fee for processing the application is $130, which includes the non-refundable application fee of $75.

The additional documents you’ll need to include are as follows:

  • Official transcripts from your college or university must be sent directly to the Board from the school.
  • Your supervisor must complete an activity or supervisory plan form, and you both must sign the document. The form is part of the application packet.
  • Verification of all professional licenses you currently hold or have held in any U.S. state, territory, or foreign country. The information should be sent by the licensing agency to the Board.
  • Any students educated outside the U.S. or Canada must provide documentation verifying the education was equivalent to the standards being taught at an accredited U.S. institution.
  • If you answer “Yes” to any of the applicant history questions regarding criminal, professional, and health history, you will have to include the required supporting documentation listed on the form.

Once all of your information has been received, your application will be reviewed by the Board. If approved for licensure, it will be issued within 4-7 business days.