Should I Get my SLPA License or Go Straight to Grad School
Many of us have this dilemma after finishing our undergrad studies in communication disorders or speech language pathology, to whether get our SLPA license first or go straight to grad school. There is no right or wrong answer, however, there are pros and cons to both decisions, based on which, one might be the better choice for you.
Getting your SLPA License
After talking to plenty of SLPA’s and SLP’s about the pros of getting the SLPA license first, here is what I found out.
- Most of the SLPA’s and SLP’s suggested working as a SLPA first before going to grad school. One of the main and obvious reasons is gaining experience in the field. When you become a SLPA first, you get to conduct therapy, experience working with different populations and settings, and finding out where your passion is exactly. Some people might even realize that Speech therapy is not the career route they want to continue. Some people might realize that being a SLPA is enough, and they don’t need to go back to grad school and etc.
It is a good idea in general to first find out exactly what you will be doing and what you prefer, before going to grad school. This way, right after you get your master’s degree and become an SLP, you know exactly where you want to take your career. This is because you already had the experience to try different settings and populations, so you can get straight into where you want to be along with all the experience you gained from being a SLPA.
- As we know, getting into grad school is very competitive. A few percentages of people get into the grad programs. One way to make it easier for you to get into grad school is becoming a SLPA first. This is something that would increase your chances of getting accepted, if you have experience listed in your grad school application. On top of that, your grad school experience will become much easier because you will have the experience to relate to.
- To continue off of more experience to relate to, I was able to find out that Grad school students who were SLPA’s first, had much easier time learning in school. This is because they already have so many experiences, stories, and cases to relate to when learning about new concepts in grad school. They already know the field, they already conducted therapy, and this is just adding on to the experience they already have as a SLPA.
- Another pro of becoming a SLPA first is financial reasons. Grad school is expensive. It becomes even harder if you are going straight from undergrad to graduate student. By becoming a SLPA, you can do what you love to do and save money for grad school.
- Even though there are much more pros to talk about, I don’t want to make this too long, so I will get to my last point. Becoming a SLPA first will give you the experience of conducting therapy and really getting to impact lives minus all the responsibility and paperwork that comes with being an SLP. Being a SLPA is a good way to enjoy conducting therapy, interacting with patients and their families, as well as seeing the impact you are making on lives. You don’t have to worry about evaluations, meetings, paperwork and other extra duties that come when you become an SLP.
- The main con that I was able to find out was the time. When you decide to become a SLPA, you will have to dedicate a year or more of your life to being a SLPA, which would increase the time frame for you to become an SLP. Some people don’t want to elongate the process.
- Another con of becoming a SLPA first is the pay rate. As you know, SLPA’s earn less than SLP’s. By choosing to become a SLPA for a couple years, you are doing therapy but earning less than what you could have earned if you were an SLP.
- Also, when people take breaks from school, it is generally harder for them to go back to school. This could be a challenge for SLPA’s who are wanting to go back to school, but the break has been long enough that it becomes hard for them to make that adjustment.
Going straight to grad school:
- Ok. Now let’s talk about the pros of going straight to grad school. One of the main pros is that you will become an SLP sooner. Like mentioned before, becoming a SLPA first will add a couple more years to your journey of becoming an SLP.
- Another pro of going straight to grad school is the pay rate after becoming an SLP. As soon as you get your master’s degree and become a CFY, you can already earn double the rate or even more than what you would earn as a SLPA.
- Another benefit of going straight into grad school is that once you enter the workforce, you can already do so much more than SLPA’s. You can conduct evaluations, treat and diagnose disorders, and do assessment interpretations and etc. As an SLP, you don’t have the limitations that SLPA’s have. This means creating a bigger impact on lives and doing much more with your career.
- Going straight into grad school can also give you the experience of getting the supervision with several different supervisors during clinical hours/placements in grad school which can help with learning different styles of therapy and techniques.
- Lastly, going straight into grad school means that when you get into the workforce and you have to conduct therapy, you already have all the education necessary. You have the knowledge and education that is needed that will give you the confidence you need in order to do your job.
This might sound repetitive, but one of the cons of going straight to grad school is the pay. Grad school is expensive and not taking the break can be hard financially. There is also a lot of competition for getting into grad school, so it would be hard to get accepted if you don’t have the work experience. Grad school can also be harder for you if you don’t have the experience to relate to.
Depending on your career goals and how soon you want to get there, you can choose whether to go straight to grad school or become a SLPA first. Based on the people I spoke with, majority of them suggested becoming a SLPA first. You might even change your mind and decide not to go to grad school. However, at the end, it always comes down to your goals and plans for your career.
If you are interested in getting your SLPA license, here is how you can get it in California:
Interested in employment opportunities? we have 22 locations in Southern California, contact us: