Pennsylvania Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Pennsylvania SLPA Certification

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 18th, 2024

The role of a speech-language pathologist assistant (SLPA) provides much-needed support for licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs). The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) sets the national guidelines for the profession, and they’ve developed a path to SLPA certification that ensures the public receives the highest quality service.

The client base for SLPs is growing and qualified assistants are required to keep up with the demand. Assistants can take on tasks to increase cost efficiency and decrease burnout among SLPs. The daily operational duties and routines performed by the assistant will permit the SLP to focus on professional-level clinical services.

SLPAs must work under the supervision of a licensed SLP throughout their career. However, you are given autonomy to engage in tasks you’ve been properly trained to perform. In Pennsylvania, SLPAs can screen patients, maintain patient records, prepare clinical materials, participate in research projects, and much more.

If you’re considering a career in speech-language pathology, becoming an assistant is a great way to figure out if you want to go further in the profession. You will gain a foundational education and fieldwork experience that will help you get into a competitive master’s level program. Or you may find that you enjoy the support role and decide not to enroll in graduate school. Either way, you’ll have first-hand experience and understand exactly what the role offers.

Fortunately, Pennsylvania’s certification requirements are straightforward and easy to follow. Keep reading to find out how you can become an SLPA in the state.

Pennsylvania Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Certification Process

The State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology is the agency tasked with setting the rules SLPAs must follow in Pennsylvania.

Education Requirements

SLPAs must earn 30 semester hours in speech-language pathology from an accredited institution of higher education. Because there is no degree requirement, you can take introductory courses like the following:

  • Introduction Assessment of Speech-Language Disorders
  • Language Development
  • Phonetics
  • Speech and Sound Disorders

Experience Required

Before an SLPA can be assigned any duties a task analysis of their expected duties is performed by the supervisor. The SLP will then train the assistant in competency-based skills in accordance with the results of the analysis. This training is provided through workshops, coursework, or direct supervised observations and practicums.

SLPs are required to deliver at least 20 hours of training for each duty the assistant will perform. Assistants cannot perform duties they have not been trained in or which the supervisor believes the SLPA is not qualified to execute. A minimum of 25% of the assistant’s clinical sessions must be directly observed by the supervisor, and clients must be informed that they are being treated by an SLPA.

Background Checks

A fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) is performed on each SLPA. CHRCs from each state you’ve ever lived in must be obtained from the state’s criminal history record repository. You have 180 days from the application date to submit the CHRCs. If you live or work in Pennsylvania, once you fill out the application for licensure a CHRC request is automatically sent to the Pennsylvania State Police, and the results are then submitted to the Board.

Out-of-state applicants can visit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website and choose to have a state and FBI Identity History Summary Check completed simultaneously. The data is then transmitted to the Board for review.

Application Process

To apply for SLPA licensure, the supervising SLP must submit the supervision verification form through the online system. Your supervisor will also have to document their willingness to supervise you as their assistant on that form. Once you log in and download the application, give it to your supervisor to complete and upload. Be ready to supply the following information:

  • Assistant’s name
  • Assistant’s work location
  • Certification the minimum training requirements have been met by the assistant within 30 days of employment or a change in employment or supervision