Illinois Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Illinois Speech Therapy Certification

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Do you have a passion for working with individuals in need of help? Are you compassionate, patient, and adaptable? Does language and the way we use it fascinate you? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you may be ready for a career as a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

SLPs assess, diagnose, and treat patients with different speech and language disorders. The conditions treated range from speech fluency issues, such as stuttering, to language comprehension and arranging words to form sentences. They typically evaluate speech levels and abilities before developing and administering customized treatment plans. SLPs also counsel individuals on different coping mechanisms for dealing with their specific disorder.

In this role, you’ll serve as an educator and healthcare provider, so extensive education is needed. You’ll take a combination of linguistic, psychology, and counseling courses to learn methodologies and concepts used in the field. For these reasons, states require licensure for the profession to ensure they are putting their best and most ethical providers in front of patients. After all, communication is a requisite for human existence.

That’s why it’s also important that you possess a set of soft skills since you’ll be working with patients of all ages from all walks of life. A few of those soft skills include active listening, creativity when searching for solutions, critical thinking, and time management. These are all skills that are developed during SLP training.

Illinois is a great state for pursuing your SLP certification. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), SLPs in Illinois earn an average yearly salary of $81,230 (Bureau of Labor Statistics - 2022). Overall, the salary scale ranges between $50,380 to $109,340 for the bottom 10% and top 10% respectively. Therefore, if speech-language pathology is a field of interest, you can earn a very good living once you’re licensed.

The licensure process can be confusing for some, so if you’re not sure where to start, keep reading. This guide will provide information on the educational and experience requirements, as well as the application process for permanent licensure in Illinois.

Initial Speech Pathology Licensure Process

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is the licensing agency for speech-language pathologists (SLP). SLP licenses are renewed on a biennial schedule that expires on October 31st of each odd-numbered year. Reminder notifications are mailed to your home and sent electronically, so be sure to keep your addresses on file updated. For the full listing of rules and laws put forth by the IDFPR, click here.

Education Requirements

Speech-language pathologists must be 21 years old and have a master’s or doctoral degree in speech-language pathology from a program accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) or a Board-approved institution.

Experience Requirements

Before you can be granted an SLP license, you will need to complete the professional experience requirements set forth by the IDFPR.

To start gaining the clinical experience that is required for permanent licensure, a temporary license is required. Therefore, you will first need to submit an application for a temporary SPL license. Along with the application, be sure to include the following items:

  • Proof of possessing a master’s or doctoral degree from a Board-approved program
  • A passing score (162) on the Praxis or other national exam recognized by the Board
  • Certification that a licensed SLP agrees to supervise your experience
  • $75 application fee

Temporary licenses are issued for an 18-month period, and can only be renewed once for a 12-month period if you are a full-time service member of the Armed Forces, have an incapacitating illness, or are experiencing a similar extenuating circumstance. The application can be printed and mailed to:

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Division of Professional Regulation
P.O. Box 7007
Springfield, Illinois 62791

The clinical experience consists of working full-time for nine months under the supervision of a licensed SLP. If you are in a U.S. state or territory that doesn’t require a license for this profession, the supervisor must be certified by ASHA. Or you can work an equivalent number of hours over a longer period. Here is a list you can use to choose the professional experience that works best with your schedule.

  • 30 hours or more weekly for nine months
  • 25-29 hours each week for 12 months
  • 20-24 hours each week for 15 months
  • 15-19 hours each week for 18 months

Anytime less than fifteen hours each week will not allow you to meet the required experience hours. The minimum number of hours you need to fulfill is 300.

This clinical experience also consists of 36 supervised activities that require direct client contact. The contact includes but is not limited to making assessments, diagnoses, and client evaluations. Screenings, habilitation/rehabilitation, and other activities related to managing clients under the practice of speech-language pathology.

Of the 36 supervised activities, 18 are on-site or remote observations completed by the supervisor. Remote observations are done using video-conferencing tools that allow the supervisor to monitor your work. Each hour of observation is equivalent to one observation, and a maximum of six hours is allowed for one day. The remaining activities can be completed through correspondence, conferences, or evaluations of written reports or by professional colleagues.

These professional experiences should take place in programs found in schools, clinics, hospitals, and other similar environments. Your supervisor will work with you to improve your skill set and document your performance, which will be handed in once the experience has been completed. The information is then submitted to the Department via the Verification of Employment form.

Testing Requirements

Potential speech-language pathologists will have to sit for the Praxis 5331 exam before they can begin practicing. It’s a national test commissioned by ASHA to certify SLPs. Once you pass the Praxis exam, you receive a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA to show you meet the required professional and academic standards expected of SLPs.

The test consists of 132 questions, and you are given 150 minutes to complete the test on a computer. It is graded on a 100-200 scale, and a score of 162 is needed to pass. Once you are ready to take the exam, you can find an available date and schedule the test online. The Praxis website contains resources to help you study for the big day.

You can apply for certification after completing the graduate-level coursework and clinical practicum, and the program you’re graduating from verifies you have attained the skills and knowledge necessary for practice. You have two years to complete the certification process after submitting the application.

Should you fail the exam the first time around, you can retake it within the two-year period following the application’s submission. While you can take the test as often as you may need, you will have to wait for a minimum of 29 days between test dates, and you’ll have to pay the registration fees again. The cost to sit for the Praxis exam is $146, and the certification fee is $249.

Candidates are encouraged to register and take the test after completing the graduate coursework and clinical practicum. Or, you should register when taking your first year of clinical practice after graduation.

Plenty of work goes into ensuring the exam accurately assesses your skills and knowledge. An SLP practice analysis involving several independent expert panels, practitioners, clinical supervisors, directors, and educators is conducted. The entire process takes about one year to complete as information regarding tasks performed by SLPs is gathered for potential students.

The subject matter experts working on these panels are nominated and certified by ASHA to develop a comprehensive exam. Look for the free prep materials, videos, and webinars that provide the strategies and tips you need to earn a passing score. The Praxis Tests Information Bulletin gives you everything you need to know, from registering for the exam to procedures you should know following exam day.

Background Checks

A criminal background check is conducted on all applicants seeking licensure since you will have to complete your clinical experience in a school or with another employer. Failure to disclose any charges or convictions may result in your application being denied.

The fees for the background check are the applicant’s responsibility. There is a State of Illinois conviction check and an FBI background check you have to consent to. Applicants are also run through the state’s Sex Offender and Murder and Violent Offender Against Youth databases.

Fingerprinting is done via a live scan fingerprint vendor, and you can find one on this list. The fingerprints are then submitted to the Illinois State Police (ISP) to complete the check.

There are specific convictions that will bar you from obtaining an SLP license that you can view here. You will also see a list of convictions that are not used when considering you for licensure. If additional information is needed to further explain the conviction, the Department will contact you to discuss the situation.

Application Process

Once you complete the clinical experience and are ready to apply for a permanent license, you will print the application and include the following documents:

  • Documentation to show you have a master’s or doctoral degree in speech-language pathology from an approved program
  • Proof of any licenses you hold or have ever held must be sent directly to the Department from the issuing institution
  • Documentation signed by your supervisor to prove you successfully completed the required supervised experience
  • Verification that you passed the PRAXIS exam with a minimum score of 162
  • A copy of your ASHA certificate
  • $90 application fee

The application is sent to the same address as noted above for temporary licensure. It will take 4-6 weeks to process either application, after which you will be notified. Please note that Illinois no longer issues paper licenses. If someone requests a copy of your license, go to Get My License and either email an electronic copy or print it out to show them. Licensure can also be verified through an online license lookup system.