Pennsylvania Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Pennsylvania Speech Therapist Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 18th, 2024

Are you contemplating a career in speech-language pathology but aren’t sure where to start? Well, if you live in Pennsylvania you’ve come to the right place as this article will serve as a comprehensive guide to becoming a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP).

As an SLP you will assess, diagnose, and treat clients with speech disorders and communication problems. People see speech-language pathologists for a variety of reasons. They may have difficulty swallowing, reading, speaking, writing, and understanding language. Or they may have a cognitive communication disorder due to a brain injury. Fluency disorders like stuttering are also very common reasons to visit an SLP.

Treatment plans are customized to the patient’s needs. When working with a child you may play language-based board games to keep them engaged as you help with their handicap. Working with adults may cause you to take a different approach as you focus on rebuilding certain skill sets. SLPs have fast-paced days and no two patients are the same.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure SLPS are equipped with the competencies needed to be successful in their sessions. The range and severity of disorders you’ll see varies greatly, and you need to be prepared for all situations. It’s no surprise that those who work in this profession are required to be licensed and follow state-mandated policies.

The impact SLPs have on the lives of their clients is huge. Helping someone improve their communication assists them in every area of life. If you believe you have the hard and soft skills required for this occupation, continue reading to get started on your journey.

Pennsylvania Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Process

The State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology is the organization that sets the rules and regulations for SLP licenses, which are renewed every two years.

Education Requirements

A master’s degree in speech-language pathology is required to become licensed in Pennsylvania. The program must be accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA). The CAA is a semi-autonomous body within the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Although you don’t need to have an undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology to apply to an SLP program, but having one may increase your chances of being accepted. The core coursework is rigorous and admission boards want to be sure the students selected will successfully complete the program.

The typical requirements are an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and academic references. You’ll also need to take prerequisites like the following:

  • Phonetics
  • Language Development
  • Speech Science
  • Intro to Communication Disorders
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech, Hearing, and Swallowing

Once the prerequisites are completed, expect to take core courses including:

  • Language Disorders in Preschool Children
  • Disorders of Phonology and Articulation
  • Voice Disorders
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Aphasia

Specializing in a particular patient population or disorder will require you to take electives related to your interest. Some of the subjects that are covered are listed below:

  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Augmentative Communication
  • Swallowing: Anatomy, Physiology, and Disorders
  • Craniofacial Disorders
  • Cognitive Based Language Disorders
  • Craniofacial Disorders

Experience Required

Before graduating from the master’s program, you will participate in clinical practicums where you’ll hone your skillset. A total of 375 clock hours of clinical training must be completed with 50 hours spent in two distinctly different clinical settings.

You’ll shadow a licensed SLP supervisor in the beginning before transitioning to performing services on your own. You will perform 50% of your diagnostic evaluations under supervision. Twenty-five percent of treatment, counseling, and instruction will also be performed while supervised.

Your next experience will be post-graduation as you begin your year of supervised professional experience (YSPE). Most universities will assist in finding a site where you can participate in the YSPE. You can also search for clinical fellowships (CF) in your area to complete the experience.

Applicants are required to complete 1,260 hours within a span of 9 months to two years. The supervisor is not allowed to oversee more than three applicants during the YSPE. Applicants cannot work for more than two supervisors during this time, and they must inform clients that they are completing their YSPE.

Eighty percent of the week will be spent in direct client contact, 20% is spent performing observations, and no more than 50% can be spent conducting screenings.

Supervisors will hold regular, structured evaluations with applicants at least once each month. The competencies that will be scored by the supervisor are:

  • Assessment Skills
  • Treatment Skills
  • Professional Practice Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills

Your supervisor will use the Clinical Fellowship Skills Inventory form to track and review your progress for each competency. The feedback provided by the mentor will help you focus on the areas you need to improve. You need a score of 2 on each of the core skills in the final segment of the YSPE.

Testing Requirement

Before an SLP license can be issued you will have to pass a national exam. For SLPs that test is the Praxis Examination for Speech-Language Pathology 5331. The educational testing service (ETS) administers the ASHA-approved exam throughout the year.

Your knowledge and clinical skills will be assessed in three areas.

  • Foundations and Professional Practice
  • Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis
  • Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment

Each section counts as one-third of your overall grade. The exam is scored on a scale of 100-200, and 162 is considered a passing score. Passing this test means you can also apply for ASHA certification, which is a credential many employers look for.

Register through the ETS website, mail, or phone. Call (800) 772-9476 to make an appointment and pay the $35 surcharge fee at least four days before the test. To register by mail you’ll need to first complete a Test Authorization Voucher Request to mail to ETS:

P.O. Box 382065
Pittsburgh, PA 15251-8065

After three weeks you should receive the voucher which will allow you to register for an appointment. You can schedule an at-home test or visit a test center.

If you’re visiting a test center be sure to verify the location in your Praxis account and print the admission ticket while you’re logged in. Be sure to take a valid photo ID with you on the day of the exam. Also, call the test center to inquire about any policies and procedures they may have in place.

Individuals with health-related needs who require special accommodation should make a request before registering.

For those taking the exam at home, there are certain equipment and environment requirements you will have to follow, or you will be unable to complete the test. A live Proctor will monitor you during the home testing session, and you will have to show a photo ID.

View the What to Expect on Test Day video and The Praxis Tests Information Bulletin for more information on exam day policies. There are also resources to examine that will help you prepare for the test.

Once the exam is completed your scores will be sent to your Praxis account within three to five business days. A copy will also be submitted to the Board to review with your application.

Background Checks

Fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Checks (CHRC) are performed on each applicant. If you have ever lived in another state, you’ll need to obtain a CHRC from a state agency that is the repository for criminal history record data, or the state police. The background check must have been completed within 180 days of initially applying.

The Pennsylvania CHRC will automatically be submitted to the Pennsylvania state police once the application is received. If you live outside of Pennsylvania you can complete a CHRC check for the state you currently live in, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Identity History Summary Check.

Please note that if you live in one of the following states the Board is unable to receive CHRCs due to laws in these states:

  • Ohio
  • California
  • Arizona

You’ll need to visit the FBI site and complete the check there.

The easiest way to complete the Identity History Summary is online. Visit, scroll down to the “Obtaining Your Identity History Summary” section, and follow the directions listed.

If submitting your request via mail, simply complete the Applicant Information Form, use the card provided to get fingerprinted, and send the forms along with the $18 fee to:

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

You can find a list of approved FBI channelers who are able to complete the process for you. Online requests take 3-5 days to process once your fingerprint card is received. Mail requests can take up to 2 months to complete and require additional time for mail delivery.

Application Process

During the YSPE you’ll need a provisional license to practice. These licenses are valid for six months after the date of issuance. The requirements for a provisional license are:

  • $50 application fee
  • The completion of three hours of training from the Department of Human Services (DHS) on child abuse recognition and reporting
  • A criminal history check
  • A self-query from the National Practitioner Databank
  • a letter of good standing for any professional licenses you hold or have ever held
  • Verification of completing 1260 hours of supervised professional experience

After completing the clinical fellowship and passing the national exam you are eligible to apply for a regular SLP license. Applications are submitted online through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS). Start by creating an account and after logging in, follow the steps presented on the dashboard. If you run into any difficulties using the website, visit the PALS Help & Support page for assistance.

Requirements for a full license are as follows:

  • A completed application
  • $50 application fee
  • Complete a 3-hour training on child abuse recognition and reporting
  • Provide a Criminal History Records Check
  • Obtain an official notification of information via the National Practitioner Data Bank
  • Official educational transcripts sent directly to the Board:
    State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
    P.O. Box 2649
    Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
  • Evidence of passing the Praxis exam
  • A Letter of Good Standing (LOGS) from any state you have ever been professionally licensed, no matter the current status of the license.
  • A current resume curriculum vitae (CV) in chronological order
  • Verification of completing the YSPE

If all of the required information is received on time, you will be issued an SLP license.