Missouri Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Missouri Speech Therapy Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 18th, 2024

Most of us take the ability to speak, eat, articulate our thoughts, and understand language for granted. However, an unfortunate reality is that some people struggle in these areas. Think, for example, of the classmate who couldn’t get their words out because of stuttering. Or the colleague who you sometimes think is deaf because they have trouble understanding what you’re trying to say.

As unfortunate as the existence of these disorders are, there is help available in the modern medical context. In particular, most of us think about the purchase of hearing aids or other devices for people who are getting older and don’t hear like they used to.

Likewise, people with trouble stuttering, communicating, or even swallowing can get medical help for these issues. Besides physicians, the main source of help for this population is a speech-language pathologist (SLP). But how do these people become qualified to help others? And once qualified, how do we know that an SLP is authorized to offer these services?

In Missouri, like every other part of the United States, practicing as an SLP requires a license. What follows is a guide to this rewarding profession.

Missouri Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Process

While speech pathology can be a very rewarding career, the training requirements can be demanding. In Missouri, licensure is governed by the Board of Registration for the Healing Arts. Here, you can get a license or registration to be anything from a nursing assistant to a physician. Each licensure type has its own qualifications and application procedure.

For SLPs, the licensure validity period is two years, renewable in odd-numbered years.

With very few exceptions, you need some form of license to perform the core job duties of a speech-language pathologist. Exceptions include physicians, teachers for the deaf, and students. However, it’s important to note that each of these categories has a different type of certification or licensure process, such as medical school or teacher training. In addition, as we’ll discuss later, there are provisional licenses for students performing their practicum.

Educational Requirements

Becoming licensed as a speech-language pathologist is a relatively lengthy process. That’s because, as in most states, you need a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology. These are rigorous programs, and the state of Missouri requires that your master’s degree from an institution that is either accredited by the American Speech-language Hearing Association (ASHA) or is in the process of applying for accreditation.

The second criteria for a Master’s program recognizes that schools must first build a program before they can achieve full accreditation. However, by the time a program is officially a candidate, they’ve already brought its standards up to the appropriate level. You can find a description of ASHA’s accreditation process on its website. As an added convenience, you can see the accredited programs in each state, including the type of program.

Here you can find all Missouri speech pathology degree programs.

What does getting your master’s degree entail?

While there are exceptions, many people who get a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology already have their bachelor’s in a related field. This academic foundation helps make sure that someone starts their master’s degree with a greater level of knowledge. Applicants for admission who lack this foundation may have to take some undergraduate-level courses first.

To get your Master’s degree, you’ll need to:

  • Take a variety of courses on different speech, language, and swallowing disorders
  • Study anatomy and other related disciplines
  • Learn how to diagnose and treat different disorders of speech, language, and swallowing
  • Certain distribution requirements, such as ethical questions and how to run a practice
  • Complete a clinical practicum that takes about four semesters to complete

Generally speaking, this will take at least a couple of years beyond your bachelor’s degree. If you want to get a doctorate instead of a master’s degree, you can. However, you’ll still need to meet the clinical practicum and fellowship requirements.

Naturally, choosing the right program is an important step along the way. Besides having either accreditation or candidate status, the right program should be compatible with your personal timeline. For instance, if you need to work through your degree, then consider a program that has a little bit more flexibility. On the other hand, if you can be only a student, then it’s likely in your best interests to take all of your courses quickly so that you can concentrate on your practicum and graduate.

Here’s another important consideration — where you go to school can heavily impact where you practice. Although most states make it easy to transfer your license from one place to another (we’ll talk about that later), you generally will start practicing in the state where you graduate. Choose a program that’s located in a state where you’d love to live long-term. This may be a little different for military-connected people, however, because of frequent relocation.

Experience Requirements

After you have graduated with your Masters degree, it’s time to continue your training as a speech-language pathologist. As with other states, Missouri requires you to complete a post-graduation clinical fellowship.

Fortunately, you will receive a salary during your clinical fellowship. Just like a medical residency program, the SLP clinical fellowship involves working for an employer under the direction of a fully-qualified professional. Your clinical supervisor will have a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA. This credential is equivalent to board certification in medicine.

Overall, the Clinical Fellowship (CF) involves working at least 1260 hours under supervision. You must accumulate those hours in a minimum of 36 weeks, working 35 hours per week. However, you can take a lot longer if necessary, so long as you complete the total number of required hours. This allows for some flexibility as needed.

Missouri requires a provisional license

In order to complete your clinical fellowship and Missouri, you will need a provisional license. To get one, you must have graduated with your Master’s degree and completed all the clinical practicum requirements. You must submit a form to the licensing board, including a plan for your supervision. Practically speaking, this means that you will apply for the provisional license once you have found an employer to supervise your clinical fellowship. The fee is $25.

As part application process, you will information, including all of your education. You’ll also need to include transcripts also need to provide your graduate school transcripts and certification that you had satisfactory performance in your clinical practicum. The application, along with supporting documentation, should be sent to the address listed on the forms.

Your provisional license is valid for one year, and you can renew it one more time for an additional year. As a practical matter, that means you need to finish your clinical fellowship within two years of your first provisional license being issued.

Perhaps the best way to find a clinical fellowship is through your academic advisor during the Master’s program. Similarly, there may be a placement office at your school. After all, they want to see graduates ultimately get their licenses. However, you can generally complete a fellowship in many hospitals and outpatient clinics.

Pass the Exam

Besides your education and experience, the State of Missouri requires that you pass the national SLP licensing exam. The exam is called the PRAXIS in speech-language pathology, and it’s administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). That’s the same company that publishes the SAT college admissions test.

Although ETS owns and publishes the exam and also handles administration and scoring, it’s actually ASHA that makes sure the content is appropriate. You also apply to ASHA for authorization to take the exam. In Missouri, the passing score of 162 set by ASHA is sufficient. ETS will send your scores to ASHA and, at your request, to the State of Missouri.

If you want to know what’s on the exam, ASHA has a comprehensive outline of exam material on their website. In a nutshell, it covers everything you need to know from a theoretical standpoint in order to practice.

Pricing for the exam is not currently being published.

Pass a Background Check

Because professional licensing has a goal of protecting the public, it’s not surprising that Missouri requires a degree of background information for speech-language pathologists. Many of the people that SLP’s work with are vulnerable, whether children or adults. Therefore, the state has a vested interest in making sure that SLPs have “good moral character.”

In Missouri, this is not a separate step from the overall application. Rather, the application forms ask about criminal convictions. However, the Board is not allowed to refuse applicants a license just because they have a felony conviction. Rather, the board must consider whether or not the conviction reflects the applicant’s ability to practice safely and competently while also upholding their ethical obligations.

Similarly, the board must also consider how old the conviction is, whether or not the applicant has avoided getting in trouble since that conviction, and other factors. This means that, with the exception of certain very serious crimes or those which would preclude working with vulnerable patients, it’s still possible to get a license with a felony conviction. You just have to convince the board that you’re suitable for the profession.

A consideration of your background is included in the general application fee.

Application Process

Once you’ve met the experience, education, and exam requirements, it’s time to apply for your full license. Many of the required documents would have already been sent for a provisional license if you completed your fellowship in Missouri. However, the application instructions require that you have everything sent again. Additionally, you will have to send documentation of your provisional license and answer questions regarding any complaints against that license.

In order to apply for your license, you will need to have the transcripts for your professional degree sent directly to the Board. You also must have ETS send your PRAXIS scores. And finally, you must send the documentation of your clinical fellowship. Documentation must also be sent directly from your supervisor during the fellowship.

There is one exception to the documentation requirements. If you have a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA, you can enclose a copy of your wallet card and request that ASHA sends documentation to the Board. However, this is relatively uncommon for first-time practitioners.

The fee for an initial license application as of writing was $25. You must send this as a money order or bank check, but personal checks are not accepted.

After you have sent all of your documentation, it will take several weeks to review your application materials. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the initial review, after which the board may ask you some questions. Once the reviews are finished, it will take another 2 to 4 weeks to get final approval and the issuance of your initial license. Fortunately, Missouri gives you access to their computer system for application tracking. You can get information on this here.