Tennessee Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Tennessee Speech Therapist Certification

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 18th, 2024

Our ability to communicate through speech and language connects us to the world. However, while many of us take this ability for granted, over three million Americans experience stuttering, and almost one in 12 children in the United States have a voice, speech, or language disorder, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Thankfully, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) exist to help people regain their voices and bridge the gap in the world.

As the need for speech-language pathologists continues to rise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) predicts the career to grow 31.1% from 2020 to 2030, more than four times the national average. SLPs work in various settings, including clinics, schools, nursing, hospitals, and homes, collaborating with other professionals, such as teachers, physicians, and psychologists. Their work is crucial in urban and rural areas, as they help individuals reclaim their ability to communicate effectively.

Consider speech-language pathologists if you’re interested in a profession that is rapidly expanding and has a significant impact. However, in order to apply for an SLP license in Tennessee, certain requirements must be met. These include a combination of education, clinical practice, and testing requirements.

Tennessee has a licensure system for speech-language pathologists, defining the tasks licensed individuals can perform legally. To help with career planning, we have gathered information on Tennessee’s licensure process for speech-language pathologists.

Tennessee Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Process

The Tennessee Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences is responsible for licensing speech-language pathologists, with an application processing time of four to six weeks. Meanwhile, to be licensed as a speech-language pathologist in Tennessee, you must meet the following requirements set forth by the Board.

Education Requirements

To become a licensed speech-language pathologist in Tennessee, the main prerequisite is to complete a master’s degree in speech pathology or higher from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). Opting for an online CAA-accredited program can provide unmatched flexibility to working professionals with busy schedules without compromising the quality of education.

Several graduate programs include provisions for individuals needing a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology. At the beginning of the graduate program, these students can register for specific foundational and prerequisite courses.

The master’s degree program in speech-language pathology typically includes a range of classes, some of which are outlined below:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Aural Habilitation/Rehabilitation
  • Intro to Hearing Science
  • Language disorders
  • Language Path in Children
  • Neural Bases of Speech and Language
  • Speech and Language Development
  • Stuttering

To prepare for your national exam and clinical fellowship, you must finish a 400-hour clinical practicum as part of your graduate program. Furthermore, if you prefer to study on campus, there are five SLP master’s degree programs within Tennessee that the Tennessee Board has approved.

  • East Tennessee State University offers a Master of Science program in SLP.
  • Tennessee State University offers a Master of Science program in Speech and Hearing Science.
  • The University of Memphis offers a Master of Arts program in SLP.
  • The University of Tennessee Health Science Center offers a Master of Science program in SLP.
  • Vanderbilt University offers a Master of Science program in SLP.

Experience Requirements

After obtaining your master’s degree in SLP, you must undertake a 9-month clinical fellowship. This fellowship represents a significant milestone in your career. It offers a chance to secure a paid position with an employer and practice environment that aligns with your ultimate professional aspirations.

In Tennessee, numerous organizations hire SLPs, including school districts requiring an active Speech Language Pathology Teacher license.

School Districts

  • Arlington Municipal School District
  • Bartlett Municipal School District
  • Collierville Municipal School District
  • Germantown Municipal School District
  • Johnson County Schools
  • Knox County School District
  • Lakeland Municipal School District
  • Maury County Public Schools
  • Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Millington Municipal School District

Private Practices

  • Franklin Speech and Learning, Nashville
  • Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center, Kingsport
  • The Speech, Language, and Learning Center, Columbia and Lawrenceburg
  • West Tennessee Hearing and Speech Center, Jackson


  • Outpatient Rehabilitation centers of Saint Thomas Health have locations in Midtown, Murfreesboro, and Cool Springs.
  • Siskin Hospital for Rehabilitation has three locations in East Brainerd, Cleveland, and Chattanooga.
  • The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial is situated in Nashville.
  • University of Tennessee Medical Center is based in Knoxville.

Long-term care facilities

  • Gallaway Health and Rehab in Gallaway
  • Richland Place Health Center in Nashville

To ensure timely registration for your Clinical Fellowship Year, it is required that you submit your application within 10 days of starting the fellowship. The registration will remain valid for one year and can be renewed every three months.

Throughout your clinical fellowship, you will gain valuable hands-on experience. As an SLP, you must possess strong and adaptable skills to meet diverse demands. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has established an SLP Scope of Practice that outlines the various proficiencies expected of an SLP, including leadership, client advocacy, research, and screening and treatment programs.

Moreover, individuals seeking the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) certification must complete the Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship Report and Rating Form.

Testing Requirements

To obtain your Tennessee SLP license, you must pass the national SLP exam conducted by Praxis. To enroll in the exam, it is necessary to go to the exam registration page of Praxis and adhere to the guidelines provided. In addition, the exam can be taken at various centers located in:

  • Chattanooga
  • Clarksville
  • Columbia
  • Cookeville
  • Jackson
  • Johnson City
  • Knoxville
  • Martin
  • Memphis
  • Morristown
  • Murfreesboro
  • Nashville

The exam consists of 132 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 150 minutes. To prepare for the exam, you can use the provided Preparation Materials. The exam content is divided equally into three categories. Here’s a summary of the exam’s content:

  • Foundations and Professional Practice
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Counseling, collaboration, and teaming
  • Legislation and client advocacy
  • Research Methodology and evidence-based practice
  • Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis
  • Developing case histories
  • Selecting appropriate procedures
  • Causes of Genetic and developmental disorders
  • Assessing social aspects of communication
  • Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment
  • Evaluating Factors that can affect treatment
  • Determining appropriate treatment details
  • Establishing methods for monitoring treatment

To meet the exam’s requirements, a score of at least 162 out of 200 is necessary. Your exam results will be sent directly to the Tennessee Board by Praxis.

Optional Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) National Certification

Meeting the education, experience, and exam requirements outlined previously qualifies you to apply for the CCC-SLP certification. Although not mandatory for licensure, many Tennessee-based SLPs believe obtaining this credential can enhance their professional reputation.

To apply for the CCC-SLP, you must fill out the application form, provide the Clinical Fellowship Reporting form, and provide an official copy of your graduate transcript.

Apart from the CCC-SLP, ASHA provides four other specialty certifications to help you promote your unique abilities to potential employers and clients. These certifications are:

  • Swallowing and swallowing disorders
  • Intraoperative monitoring
  • Child language disorders
  • Fluency disorders

Background Checks

To obtain initial speech-language pathology licensure in Tennessee, you must undergo a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). Registering online or by phone is available, and electronic print locations can be found at tn.ibfingerprint.com. A processing fee of $37.15 is applicable.

To begin registration, open your computer web browser and access tn.ibfingerprint.com

  • Click on the “Schedule New Appointment” button.
  • Enter the OCA code given to you by the Tennessee Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences.
  • Follow the prompts provided to complete the registration process.

In the event that fingerprints are not accepted, the TBI will inform the Health Related Boards, who will subsequently send a letter to the applicant.

Application Process

You must fill out the Application form for Licensure to get your Tennessee SLP license. Fortunately, the Department of Health provides a simple and convenient online application process for all healthcare professionals. This process allows you to apply for your initial license online and update your practitioner profile as needed. Additionally, you can pay for your application using a credit card, debit card, or e-check and even upload most of the necessary documents directly.

You must complete the following checklist to be considered for speech-language pathology licensure to practice in Tennessee. Note that all submissions must be executed and dated less than one (1) year before receipt, or the Tennessee Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences will reject them.

  • The checklist includes the following:
  • Completed application
  • Pay a non-refundable application and initial licensure fee of $150
  • The graduate school sent the official transcript directly to the Board.
  • The original passport photo was taken within 12 months.
  • The Tennessee Jurisprudence Exam covers the regulations and laws set forth by the Board. It is advised to anticipate a review period of about two (2) weeks following receipt of this email.
  • A notarized photocopy of a certified birth certificate or certified birth certificate
  • Complete the Declaration of Citizenship form
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Mandatory Profile Questionnaire

The average waiting time for obtaining a speech and language therapy license in Tennessee is about four to six weeks, which is consistent with the wait times for similar licenses in other states of the US.

If you wish to send documents, kindly forward them to the Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences:

Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences
665 Mainstream Dr.
Nashville, TN 37243

Endorsement for Speech-Language Pathologists To Work In School Settings

Students with speech and language impairments pose unique challenges in the educational setting. These challenges can include difficulties communicating with peers, teachers, and school staff and an increased risk of low academic achievement. Additionally, as they grow older, these students may be less likely to participate in class due to their awareness of their communication difficulties or their struggle to understand what is happening around them.

Fortunately, schools offer speech therapy services to students who need them. These services aim to help students overcome their communication disorders and improve their ability to interact with others in their community. SLPs specialize in working with children who have speech and language disorders. They collaborate with classroom teachers and other school staff members to develop and implement effective plans that support each student’s progress. Additionally, they work closely with parents to create a cohesive support team for the student.

To work as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Tennessee, the following qualifications must be met:

  • A regionally accredited institution of higher education with an approved speech-language program by the CAA should have granted the candidate an advanced degree in SLP.
  • The candidate must have a valid SLP license issued by either the state board or an SLP licensing board of another state.
  • The candidate must have an advanced degree in SLP and hold a valid professional-level educator license from another state.
  • The candidate should possess an advanced degree in speech-language pathology and a full and valid initial-level speech-language pathology license from a state partner in the NASDTEC interstate agreement.

Candidates must meet specific requirements to be considered for educator licensure in Tennessee. These include providing qualifying scores on all necessary assessments with scores no older than five (5) years. The Tennessee Department of Education also requires official transcripts for all higher education credits earned.

To submit transcripts, institutions should use an approved clearinghouse to send them to Educator.Licensure@tn.gov or mail them to the department’s address at 710 James Robertson Parkway, 9th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243. Detailed instructions can be found in the Academic Transcripts Operating Procedures.