Pursuing work as a speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA) can launch you into a successful career, especially if you have a strong sense of compassion, solid interpersonal skills, and an interest in language development. A high-demand profession, SLPAs can expect 7% job growth through 2029. Taking advantage of those trends is now easier than ever thanks to flexible online SLPA programs that allow you to earn your degree or certificate and begin work in just a few years.
This guide covers everything you need to know about this rewarding degree and career path, including a list of top online SLPA programs, a breakdown of the different program options, details on earnings potential and certification requirements, and answers to key questions you may have.
Best Online SLPA Programs for 2021
We spotlight three best-in-class online SLPA programsbelow to help jumpstart your school search. Each school profiled offers high-quality programming complete with the flexible delivery methods, affordable tuition rates, and certification prep resources you need to become a skilled SLPA. Discover what sets each school apart and learn more about what a typical program entails.
Types of SLPA Programs Offered Online
Online speech-language pathology assistant programs offer several entry points to accommodate a variety of circumstances and educational levels. Wherever you are and whatever your background, the program types detailed below extend convenient options that build the skills and knowledge needed for SLPA certification.
What Do You Learn in a Speech Language Pathology Assistant Program Online?
Online SLPA programs qualify students for work under the direction of a certified speech-language pathologist. As support personnel, SLPAs provide supervised clinical services to help patients manage or overcome a range of speech and language disorders that impact communication and social functioning. When you enroll in an SLPA program, you receive training and instruction in allied health that empowers you to fulfill those responsibilities. Topics covered range from theory-based courses in phonetics and audiological science to hands-on experiences in lab and therapy settings.
Some of the skills and knowledge you can expect to gain in online speech-language pathology assistant programs include:
- A working understanding of normal speech behavior, language development, and communication patterns with special focus on how those elements shift or evolve across the lifespan along with other health concerns.
- The ability to conduct hearing screenings and language assessments and to assist qualified speech-language pathologists in making evidence-based diagnoses that improve patient health and communication.
- Strong analytical and clinical reasoning competencies, including skills in technology-assisted hearing prevention, patient-centered treatment planning, data collection and information management, confidential record-keeping, and other speech-language intervention techniques.
- Knowledge of the healthcare compliance and regulatory measures that govern audiology and the speech-language pathology profession, along with applicable state and local laws that protect clinic security and ensure patient privacy.
- Hands-on experience providing language therapy sessions – both group and individual –directed by a certified speech therapist and informed by cultural diversity training.
FAQs About Online Speech Language Pathology Assistant Programs
How much do online speech language pathology assistant programs cost?
Enrollment status, school and program type, and your location of residence all impact the overall cost of online SLPA programs. Additionally, private institutions tend to be more expensive than public colleges and universities. Some schools charge a flat rate for online programming, but others have different rates for in-state and out-of-state students. Here are a few examples to give you a sense of the range of costs found among SLPA programs.
Utah State University
Total Credits: 120
University of Colorado Boulder
Total Credits: 7
Total Credits: 64
Can you get a speech language pathology assistant degree or certificate completely online?
These programs extend options for a fully online experience, making them an ideal choice for busy students looking to balance their education with other responsibilities. Whether you plan to earn a certificate or a full-fledged degree, you can complete all course requirements 100% online using intuitive, responsive tools in an interactive learning environment. The only exception could be your fieldwork component, but most online SLPA programs offer accommodations for this as well.
How is clinical fieldwork integrated into online SLPA programs?
Each college or university implements its own policy for fieldwork and clinical practicums. Since the SLPA position is an applied role, those experiences must be completed in person. However, most schools work with students to make arrangements that fit their unique situations. Eastern New Mexico University, for example, requires online SLPA students to complete 100 hours of supervised fieldwork but provides convenient placements within their own communities.
Is financial aid available for online speech language pathology assistant programs?
Scholarships and other financial aid opportunities can help defray the final price tag, though eligibility and application requirements vary quite a bit. Many schools, like Mitchell Technical College and Eastern New Mexico University, extend awards to new and returning students. At another school, Arizona State University, over 80% of undergraduate students receive financial aid. Professional organizations like the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association also offer scholarships to rising SLPAs. For more financial aid information, see our comprehensive financial aid guide and scholarship listing.
Accreditation for Online Speech Language Pathology Assistant Programs
Any program you consider should possess institutional accreditation, which ensures that your degree carries long-lasting value. While they do not play a direct role in the process, the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation establish guidelines used by independent agencies to accredit colleges and universities. Those agencies typically grant regional accreditation to nonprofit institutions with an academic focus. Technical, vocational, and for-profit schools often receive national accreditation from those same entities. Any potential program should hold one of these forms of accreditation.
Some online SLPA programs may also possess programmatic accreditation from organizations like the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. That credential does not replace institutional accreditation, but it does provide additional endorsement.
Job Demand and Earnings for Speech Language Pathology Assistants
Salary potential and job outlook trends for qualified SLPAs remain consistent with national numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to PayScale, speech-language pathology assistants earn $40,863 on average (the median annual wage nationwide is currently $41,950 by comparison). Experienced SLPAs can bring home up to $57,000, while the lowest 10% receive $29,000 annually.
O*Net Online reports that work for SLPAs will grow by 5-7% through 2029, leading to approximately 11,000 new job openings across the country. Those figures outpace national job growth rates by several percentage points with the average for all occupations currently resting at 4%. This growth is likely due to aging populations nationwide and rising awareness of speech and language impairments in children.
SLPA Licensing and Professional Certification
Earning your SLPA degree or certificate is only the first step to becoming fully credentialed. After you graduate, you need to complete the certification process to become authorized for work. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) oversees this process and provides a useful step-by-step guide along with a listing of state-specific policies and requirements. Applicants must complete course prerequisites in ethics, safety, and patient confidentiality. They also need at least 100 clinical hours providing patient care. Online SLPA programs include appropriate coursework, but practicum observation hours may not double as clinical hours.
Once all preliminary requirements are met, you can take the national SLPA exam, which assesses audiology knowledge and prepares you for research-based practice. ASHA offers a free exam blueprint and study resources to candidates.
Continuing Education Opportunities & Related Degrees
There are plenty of opportunities to advance once you’ve earned your SLPA credentials, both within the field and beyond it. Continuing education pathways and related degree programs help you do that by deepening your skills or expanding them into new areas. Consider these options as you work to grow your career or explore something different.
Online Resources for SLPA Students and Professionals
- American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology (AAPPSA)
- American Board of Child Language & Language Disorders (ABCLLD)
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- Home Speech Home
- MedLine Plus: Speech and Communication Disorders
- National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH)
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
- National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA)