Tennessee Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Tennessee SLPA Certification

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) provide support to certified speech-language pathologists (SLPs) by assisting with administrative duties, preparation of therapy materials, and equipment maintenance. They work under the direct supervision of a state-licensed SLP and do not perform speech therapy sessions independently.

Working as an SLPA can be a great end goal or a stepping stone in your career trajectory, especially if you are passionate about helping people communicate. It provides an opportunity to gain experience and determine if the field is the right fit for you. If you decide to pursue a career as an SLP, you will need extensive training and certification, which requires meeting specific prerequisites at each stage of the certification process.

In Tennessee, licensed SLPAs can seek employment in various settings, including hospitals, schools, and medical facilities such as rehabilitation centers. In Tennessee, the following requirements must be met to be registered as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant; this guide will detail them.

Tennessee Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Licensure Process

The Tennessee Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences regulates and grants licenses to speech-language pathology assistants. Here is the process for obtaining a license as a speech pathology assistant.

Education Requirements

To become a speech-language pathology assistant in Tennessee, the first requirement is to obtain education through a specific program of study. The program must be designed to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge required for the role. You must have also completed at least 60 college-level semester credit hours.

Of the sixty (60) credit hour requirement, a minimum of 20 semester credit hours must be in general education, and another twenty 20 semester credit hours must be in technical content specifically related to the role of a speech-language pathology assistant.

The course curriculum should encompass the following components:

  • A review of the standard communication processes and an introduction to communication disorders;
  • Guidance on professional conduct in the workplace;
  • Inclusion of cultural and linguistic aspects of communication;
  • Opportunities for observation; and
  • Training on assistant-level service delivery techniques.

Experience Requirements

The Board mandates that SLPAs complete supervised fieldwork experiences of 100 hours, which should provide suitable prospects for SLPA trainees to understand job responsibilities and workplace conduct. However, these experiences are not designed to prepare SLPAs for independent practice. Therefore, if an academic institution cannot offer the complete 100 hours of supervised fieldwork experience by a licensed SLP, the applicant must enlist with the Tennessee Board of Communication Disorders and Sciences.

You will then have 30-90 days to acquire the remaining 100 clock hours of field experience required to become a fully credentialed SLPA in Tennessee. Within the first 30 days, the supervising licensee is responsible for offering 15 hours of training to the SLPA for the assigned tasks. In addition, the supervising licensee must directly observe the first 10 hours of client interaction and ensure that at least 10% of the SLPA’s time each week is spent under direct supervision.

Moreover, the supervising licensee must provide indirect supervision for a minimum of 20% of the SLPA’s time each week. Finally, the supervising licensee must always be available by telephone during clinical activities.

Testing Requirements

The Assistants Certification Program allows speech-language pathology assistants to get certification as practitioners by taking ASHA’s Assistants Certification Exam. To qualify for certification, applicants must prepare for the exam by reviewing SLPA practice exam questions and other relevant resources. The exam evaluates their knowledge of speech-language pathology, professional boundaries, and responsibilities through a 100-item multiple-choice test. A minimum score of 162 is required to pass the exam.

They must also apply for C-SLPA certification and pay an initial fee of $249. However, if the applicant is ineligible for ASHA assistants certification or chooses to withdraw their application, they will be refunded the initial application fee with a deduction of $50 as a nonrefundable processing fee.

Background Checks

A criminal background check is mandatory to obtain initial Tennessee speech-language pathology assistant licensure. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) conduct the background check. Registration can be completed online or via telephone, with electronic print locations accessible at tn.ibfingerprint.com. The processing fee for this procedure is $37.15.

To proceed with the registration process, you will need to:

  • Open your computer web browser and go to tn.ibtfingerprint.com
  • Click on the “Schedule New Appointment” button.
  • Use the OCA code given to you by the Board to proceed with registration.
  • Follow the provided prompts to complete the registration process.

If fingerprints are deemed unacceptable, the TBI will notify the Health Related Boards, then dispatch a letter to the applicant.

Application Process

Before becoming a speech-language pathology assistant in Tennessee, you must be registered by your supervising licensee with the Tennessee Board of Communications Disorders and Sciences before beginning your training or employment. To register, the supervising licensee must complete a registration form that can be obtained upon request from the Board’s administrative office.

The completed registration form and a written training plan for the Assistant must be submitted to the Board’s administrative office. SLPAs are allowed to begin their training or employment once they have completed the registration process with the Board and paid the non-refundable application and initial registration fee of $20.

Endorsement for Speech-Language Pathologists to Work In School Settings

To become a school speech-language pathology assistant in Tennessee, you must obtain a School Services Personnel License with a school SLPA endorsement. There are several requirements that candidates must meet to obtain this license:

  • Possess a valid C-SLPA from ASHA.
  • Have a valid registration with the Board as an SLPA and hold a bachelor’s degree with a major or concentration in SLP, speech and hearing sciences, or communication disorders from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
  • Have graduated from a SLPA Program and possess a degree in this field.

To obtain a School Speech-Language Pathology Assistant license in a Tennessee, non-resident applicants must possess a valid initial level SLPA license from a state part of the NASDTEC interstate agreement. Additionally, they must have completed a bachelor’s degree program with a major or concentration in SLP, speech and hearing sciences, or communication disorders from a regionally accredited higher education institution.