Washington Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Guide - 2024

AKA: Washington Speech Therapist Licensure

Speech Pathologist Programs

by Speech Pathologist Programs Staff

Updated: March 19th, 2024

Are you considering a career in speech-language pathology but aren’t sure what is required for licensure? Then you’ve come to the right place as this article will serve as a guide to attaining a speech-language pathologist (SLP) license in Washington state.

As you may already know, SLPs assess, diagnose, treat, and work to prevent speech, language, and communication disorders in children and adults. However, did you also know they are researchers who also work with cognitive communication and swallowing disorders?

The work of an SLP varies with each client interaction. That is why a high level of education is necessary to train these professionals. They must be able to successfully treat patients, and that means giving them the tools and techniques needed to improve their communication.

Because each client is unique, treatment plans must be customized. This is where you can use creativity to develop strategies and use technology to train clients on new alternative communication methods.

If this all sounds exciting to you, then continue reading to discover how to become a licensed SLP in the great state of Washington.

Washington Speech-Language Pathologist Licensure Process

The Board of Speech and Hearing sets the rules and regulations for speech-language pathology licensure in Washington State. Licenses are renewed annually and must meet specific maintenance requirements before being reissued. That information and more will be covered in this article.

Education Requirements

If your goal is to become a licensed SLP in the state of Washington, you’ll need to start by obtaining a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. The graduate program must be credited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA’s) accrediting organization, the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).

You can find a few CAA-accredited SLP programs in-state or enroll in online courses. A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is typically required for entry into the graduate program, and a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or a similar major is preferred. Those with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field will need to complete a set of prerequisites before taking on graduate-level coursework.

Prerequisite courses may include:

  • Phonetics
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech, hearing, and Swallowing
  • Language Acquisition and Development
  • Introduction to Language Development and Disorders in Children
  • Introduction to Communication Disorders
  • Introduction to Audiology and Aural Rehabilitation

Once you’re ready to tackle the core courseload, you’ll be taking classes with the following titles:

  • Neuroanatomy
  • Language Impairment
  • Speech Sound Disorders
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Speech Production
  • Language Development
  • Audiometry
  • Clinical Methods, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

In the next section, we’ll cover the clinical portion of the coursework required for licensure.

Experience Required

SLP programs provide clinical education across numerous healthcare settings so you can gain experience working with a variety of disorders at varying severities. Settings will include community centers, in and outpatient rehabilitation clinics, long-term care facilities, pediatric care units, and private practices.

During graduate school, you’ll participate in clinical practicums, led by a licensed SLP, as part of the curriculum. Four hundred hours of practicum experience are needed for licensure.

Clinical Fellowships are postgraduate paid work experiences that usually take 36 weeks to complete when participating full-time. Part-time workers are welcome to complete the fellowship within 24 months. To be considered full-time you must work at least 36 hours per week. Part-time workers are required to be on-site for at least 15 hours each week.

At the end of the work experience, the supervisor must submit documentation of your progress to the Board via the Speech Language Pathology or Audiology Supervision Form.

Testing Requirement

The Praxis Speech-Language Pathology Exam 5331 administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), is the national test all licensed SLPs must pass. The grading scale for the exam is 100-200, with 162 being the passing score. This computer-based exam consists of 132 multiple-choice questions.

Because the test is computer-based, you have the convenience of choosing where you prefer to take it. Register for an at-home test on any one of the seven weekdays or sign up to take it at a test center. There are several sites including Prometric testing locations, universities, and other approved locations. Complete a search to find a center near you.

No matter where you take the test the ID requirements are the same. You need to show a valid ID, or you won’t be able to take the exam and your test fees will be forfeited. For a complete list of dos and don’ts on test day, as well as other policies and procedures, download a copy of The Praxis Tests Information Bulletin to review.

Prepare for the exam by utilizing the prep materials designed for exam 5331:

University faculty members will also be useful resources you can tap into while studying for the exam. The fee to sit for the exam is $146 and must be paid each time you take it. Retake the test as many times as needed within the two years following the initial test date. The only restriction is that you wait 28 days from the last exam before scheduling the next one.

View the official score in your Praxis account once you receive the email indicating it is available. Any agencies and institutions chosen during the registration process will also receive the score, including the Board. You can download scores for up to 10 years after the reporting date.

In addition to the Praxis exam, Washington State applicants must also pass a Jurisprudence Examination. There are two types you must pass on your road to licensure:

Both exams are open-book and require a score of 100% to pass. Reference materials related to the laws governing the practice of speech-language pathology will open in a separate browser when you start the exam. Once completed, the Washington State Department of Health’s credentialing office will be notified, and they will inform the Board you’ve met the requirement.

Background Checks

According to Washington State law, the Department of Health is authorized to obtain fingerprint-based background checks for each licensure applicant. Checks are performed by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The WSP only takes fingerprints at the Olympia office:

Washington State Patrol
106 11th Ave. S.W.
Suite 1300
Olympia, WA 98501

The $16 processing fee can be paid by check, cash, credit, or debit card. Be sure to take a government-issued photo ID with you to the location. A criminal history record information (CHRI) check is then conducted using the full set of fingerprints. The fingerprint processing fee is $58 if completed by mail or in person. If you’re mailing in the information, another accepted form of payment is the Bankcard Authorization Form.

Online checks are completed using the Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) system. There’s an additional $11 fee to use this service.

Applicants living out of state are not expected to travel to Olympia to be fingerprinted. Instead, they can access the FBI’s website to search for an approved channeler in their area and pay the $18 fee for fingerprint processing. Online requests take 3-5 days to process, and mailed request forms can take up to two weeks to review. Visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page for more information on completing the process.

Application Process

Applications for licensure can be completed online or by mailing a paper application. Online applications can only be completed by the applicant and are accessed through the Department of Health Online Application Portal service, Secure Access Washington (SAW).

Once you’re registered an email confirmation will be sent to you with a link asking you to activate the account. Follow the link to finish the registration process. The next step is to create a link to the SAW portal. After following the instructions you’ll need to answer a series of questions related to information on your public record. If you cannot sufficiently answer all of the questions, you will have to apply with a paper application.

You are given 14 days to complete the online application by uploading any additional forms the Board may ask to see. There is a $2.50 convenience fee for using the online system. Check the application’s status by visiting the Provider Credential Search site.

An instructional video is available as well as print instructions. If you experience any issues using the SAW system, please contact Customer Service at (360) 236-4700.

Paper applications can be downloaded, printed, and mailed to:

Department of Health Hearing and Speech
P.O. Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099

Other documents not mailed with the original application, but requested by the Board should be sent to the:

Hearing and Speech Credentialing
P.O. Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7877

The items that need to be submitted with the application are as follows:

If you’re applying for an interim permit to complete the clinical fellowship, you’ll need to submit the following information:

Processing times vary depending on whether additional documents are needed, the correct fees were submitted, and other similar factors. It can take a few days to several weeks for the Board to issue a decision.