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Top Speech-Language Pathology Certifications

by Alexandria Russell, MS, CCC-SLP


Have you been thinking of further specializing your speech pathology practice? An SLP’s scope of practice is very large, and if you want to focus on swallowing, voice, or even articulation, there are a few specialized certification options. They take some extra time and work but will ultimately allow you to become experts in certain areas of our field. So, why spend the extra money and additional hours studying for a new certification? Today, we’re going to explore the ins and outs of five popular SLP certifications and trainings, and how they will be beneficial to your practice!

  1. Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA)
  2. Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT-LOUD)
  3. Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT)
  4. Board Certified Specialist (BCS)
  5. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

1. Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA)

The Behavioral Analyst Certification Board provides four levels of certification: high school level, bachelor’s level, master’s level, and a doctoral level. I will focus primarily on the master’s level certification.

As a graduate-level BCBA, you are qualified to provide services using behavioral analysis. Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle: when a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Applied behavior analysis is the use of [these] techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior (“Applied Behavioral Analysis: A Parent’s Guide,” 2012).1 The BCBA certification is most widely known in the SLP field as a credential for clinicians working with clients who have autism.

Below you will find some helpful facts about obtaining your BCBA certification.

  • Certification obtained through: Behavioral Analyst Certification Board
  • Settings: Schools, Classrooms, Hospitals, Clinics, Nonprofits, Private Practice
  • Commonly treats: autism, developmental disabilities
  • Prerequisites: Graduate degree, complete relevant coursework, complete supervised experience
  • Costs: $245.00
  • Examination & Training:
    • 150 multiple-choice questions
    • 4 hours
    • Retakes are allowed within 2 years

Achieving your BCBA will require either 1,500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork, 1,000 hours at a supervised practicum, or 750 hours at a supervised intensive practicum. For post-grad SLPs looking to obtain your BCBA, the relevant coursework component can be substituted by faculty teaching and research or postdoctoral experience.

You are required to maintain your BCBA through continuing education and a recertification application. Similar to ASHA, there is a maintenance cycle of 2 years along with a code of ethics.

If you work primarily with clients who have autism or developmental disabilities, you may want to consider adding BCBA to your resume. It will allow you to provide more targeted and specific interventions to facilitate positive social learning and communication skills.

Even if you are not currently working with autistic clients, if you are a pediatric SLP, it can help to know how to identify the signs of ASD. We have some tips for you so you can recognize the signs!

2. Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT-LOUD)

LSVT-LOUD is a certification program for improving communication in persons with Parkinson’s. This program is evidence-based and backed by research that shows that patients have not only been able to maintain improvements in their vocal loudness and intonation, but also in articulation, facial expressions, speech intelligibility, swallowing, and neural functioning.

While LSVT Loud is used primarily for patients with Parkinson’s, it has also shown to be effective for patients with speech impairments that have resulted from strokes, multiple sclerosis, or down syndrome. The standard therapy protocol includes sessions four times per week for four weeks with additional home exercises. If you’re interested, consider whether or not your current setting and patient population will allow you to deliver an effective LSVT Loud therapy program.

Below are some helpful facts about obtaining your LSVT LOUD certification.

  • Certification obtained through: LSVT Global
  • Settings: Outpatient, home, SNF, ALF, private practice, clinics
  • Commonly treats: Parkinson’s, adults with motor speech disorders (MS, CP, CVA)
  • Prerequisites: Speech-language pathologist, SLPA, SLP student
  • Cost:
    • Professionals: $580
    • Students: $300
    • Renewal: $200
    • Discounts are offered for groups of five or more
  • Examination & Training:
    • 40 questions
    • 15-20 minute average completion time; you are allowed as much time as you want to complete online.
    • If you are taking the test in person, you must pass with 85% or higher. You can retake it online if you don’t pass in person.
    • You have 90 days to complete your online certification and examination. Course extensions are available to purchase in 30-day blocks if additional time is needed.
  • Online Training: Can be completed in as little as 2 days; you have up to 90 days to complete it
  • In-Person Training: Two-day training course

The renewal period to maintain your LSVT-LOUD certification is two years. In addition to your LSVT-LOUD certification, you will also receive monthly webinars on LSVT, homework for patients, clinician resources, online support, CEU opportunities, and a listing on the LSVT Global database.

3. Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT)

The PROMPT training method is used to help patients develop motor skills and speech production. This method can be used with children as young as six months old to adults. Trained therapists apply tactile-kinesthetic methods to the patient’s jaw, lip, and tongue to guide them through a targeted word, phrase, or sentence. The technique develops motor control and the development of proper oral muscular movements, while eliminating unnecessary muscle movements, such as jaw sliding and inadequate lip rounding (“What is PROMPT?,” 2018).

PROMPT uses a multidimensional approach to therapy, as it takes into account the client’s cognitive-linguistic function and social-emotional factors (e.g. their physical, social, and mental domains) that may impact their speech production and ability to interact with others. Treatment is usually scheduled for one hour per week and can vary in length from a three-month to three-year period depending on the patient.

PROMPT Certification generally takes five or more years to attain. To become PROMPT Certified, you will take the Introduction and Bridging workshops, complete a tape practicum, and complete the four-month PROMPT Certification project.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Certification obtained through: The PROMPT Institute
  • Settings: Home, school, outpatient, clinics, private practice
  • Commonly treats: Speech production disorders, stuttering, language formulation or syntax disorders, auditory processing disorders, general delays
  • Prerequisites: Speech Pathologist, SLP students in their CFY
  • Cost: Varies per certification level
    • Introduction and Bridging: $600-$800 (with $50 discount for early registration)
    • Practicum: $175
    • Certification Project: $400
    • Total cost of program: $1,775 - $2,175.
  • Examination & Training: 3 levels
    • PROMPT Trained: The first level is a three-day intensive workshop which includes the complete introduction to the PROMPT Technique. After completing the first level, you can use the PROMPT method in therapy, however it is important to note you are not PROMPT certified yet.
    • PROMPT Bridging: The second level course also takes place over three days. You’ll learn how to set client-centered goals that include cognitive-linguistic and social-emotional aspects of your client’s life that may affect their speech.
    • PROMPT Certified: At the last level all PROMPT Training is completed including the PROMPT technique practicum project and a four-month self-study project. The practicum project requires you to execute a PROMPT-focused treatment plan and submit a video demonstration of you using the PROMPT Technique with a patient. The self-study project includes a written detailed assessment of the patient and an intervention plan.

There are some additions to the PROMPT training including an online membership ($3.99 a year) for refresher tools and resources, as well as an app to use in treatment or for parent education.

4. Board Certified Specialist (BCS)

A Board Certified Specialist is an SLP who has completed the Clinical Specialty Certification (CSC) program in a specific area of clinical practice. The four specialty areas include:

  1. American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders
  2. American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders
  3. American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders
  4. American Audiology Board of Intraoperative Monitoring.

The four specialty areas are individually monitored by a Specialty Certification Board (SCB). Each Board sets the educational, clinical, and experiential standards to obtain your BCS, which are then approved by ASHA’s Council for Clinical Certification Committee (CFCC) on Clinical Specialty Certification. Below, you can find information on the three SLP-relevant certifications:

Child language and language disorders (BCS-CL)

  • Certification obtained through: American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders
  • Settings: School, Early intervention, Outpatient, Private practice
  • Commonly treats: Children and adolescents age birth to 21 years old who have language learning deficits
  • Prerequisites:
    • CCC-SLP
    • Five years of full-time clinical experience with focus on child language
    • 100 hours of intermediate or advanced educational experiences in child language, aged birth to 21
    • Demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and leadership in four areas:
      • Administration, and advanced professional practice
      • Collaboration and consultation
      • Education and advocacy
      • Clinical services
  • Costs:
    • Intent to Apply Fee: $50
    • Application Fee: $250
  • Application
    • The application process occurs in three phases
      • Post-Certification
      • Statement of Philosophy
      • Clinical Case Study or Academic Administrative Case Study.
    • You have up to two years to submit full application.

Fluency and Fluency Disorders (BCS-SF)

  • Certification obtained through: American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders
  • Settings: Private practice, school, outpatient, university
  • Commonly treats: Fluency disorders
  • Prerequisites:
    • Hold CCC-SLP
    • Five years full-time clinical experience after obtaining CCC
    • 450 direct clinical contact hours within area of fluency disorders (specific age ranges required)
    • Ten documented CEUs per 100 hours of intermediate to advanced training in fluency disorders
      • Specific CEUs are required
  • Cost: $200
  • Application & Entry:
    • Once you complete the prerequisites, you can submit an application packet which includes:
      • Completion and documentation of required clinical hours
      • Copy of CEUs from ASHA and the BCS-F CEU form
      • Three recommendation letters.
    • You are assigned an advisor throughout this process and have up to two years for completion. Annual dues are required to maintain this certification.
    • If you’re approved for BCS-F candidacy, you’ll receive a letter within 30 days after application submission.
    • After acceptance, submit a portfolio which includes 3 case studies given specific age range guidelines. You will receive your results within 60 days of submission.

Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (BCS-S)

  • Certification obtained through: American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders
  • Settings: Outpatient, private practice, inpatient, acute, SNF, home health
  • Commonly treats: Pediatrics and adults with swallowing disorders
  • Prerequisites:
    • Hold CCC-SLP
    • Minimum 7.5 CEUS related to dysphagia within last 3 years (*specific CEU guidelines for in-person vs. online hours)
    • Minimum 3 years post CCC-SLP clinical experience in dysphagia, clinical track or administrative track
  • Advanced skill documentation: demonstrate advanced clinical skill and leadership over last 3 years through publications, activities, and accomplishments related to dysphagia outside of job requirements
    • Three letters of recommendation
  • Cost:
    • Application: $100
    • Examination: $300
  • Examination & Training:
    • Multiple choice and written exam.
    • Must be completed within 3 months of BCS-S acceptance of candidacy
    • Test structure and content is determined by the Examination Committee of the BCS-S Board

The BCS-S website provides a detailed guide to assist you in completing this certification within a three to five-year time frame. You are also assigned a mentor to guide you through the process. The renewal period for the BCS-S is every five years.

5. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

PECS is an alternative/augmentative communication system that uses behavioral analysis techniques focused on specific prompting and reinforcement strategies to facilitate functional communication. A special component of PECS is that it does not use verbal prompts to promote independent communication and initiation.

PECS includes 6 phases:

  1. How to Communicate
  2. Distance and Persistence
  3. Picture Discrimination
  4. Sentence Structure
  5. Attributes and Language Expansion
  6. Responsive Requesting, and Commenting

PECS is widely used with children and the special education population, however, it's appropriate for all ages with any cognitive, physical, or communication disorder. There are various levels and types of trainings you can receive under PECS, but here is an introduction to the first level:

  • Certification obtained through: Pyramid Educational Consultants
  • Settings: Home, School, Outpatient, Clinics, Private Practice
  • Commonly treats: Autism, children with special education needs
  • Prerequisites: Speech Language Pathologist
  • Cost: $429
  • Examination & Training:
    • PECS Level 1 Training
    • Training is in-person or online
      • Intensive 2-day interactive training, learn and implement six phases of PECS. It includes a training manual and data forms CD which can help to begin using PECS with patients.
    • The additional training levels of PECS will allow you to help your patients reach more complex levels of communication and include
      • PECS Level 2 Training
      • Teaching Critical Communication Skills
      • Transitioning from PECS to SGDs (Speech Generating Devices)
      • Analyzing and Fine Tuning Communication

PECS offers a robust support network including consultants that can visit weekly to yearly available in the home and classroom environments, as well as remote support via web, telephone, or video submission.

Are you interested in adding a specialty to your career?



  1. Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. “Applied Behavioral Analysis: A Parent's Guide.” Autism Speaks, May 2012,


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