If you are considering employment in a state other than Washington, please visit ASHA’s state-by-state website to begin your research on individual state requirements for SLP employment. You should initiate your research as far in advance as possible to identify and evaluate individual state requirements, fees, and application procedures. It’s critical to first understand the credentialing requirements and costs in another state before accepting an offer of employment.

After Graduation - WA State Certification Requirements

School Employment Settings

Postgraduate Employment Requirements

  1. Postgraduate Professional Work Experience - OPSI requires new SLP graduates to complete a minimum of 180 days of full-time postgraduate professional work experience, under the supervision of an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) credentialed SLP professional.
  2. Clinical Fellowship - New M.S.-SLP graduates seeking ASHA certification must also complete a 36 week, full-time Clinical Fellowship (CF) experience (or its part-time equivalent) in order to receive their Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCCs) from ASHA.

Students can meet both requirements simultaneously. See OSPI’s specific requirements below.

Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Credentialing
Educational Staff Associates (ESA) Certification

For School Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Audiologists.

Anyone who wishes to work in schools must be credentialed by OSPI and obtain an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificate. New graduates looking to obtain a CF in a school setting will:

  1. Find an employer willing to hire/mentor an SLP Clinical Fellow
  2. Identify an ESA credentialed (and ASHA certified SLP if pursuing ASHA certification) who will officially mentor, supervise, and evaluate them according to OSPI’s (and ASHA’s) requirements
  3. Apply for temporary ESA credentials in WA

Qualified applicants for an ESA certificate can typically anticipate two levels of certification during their career in the schools; 1) Initial ESA Certificate and 2) Continuing ESA Certificate.

  1. Initial ESA Certificate - this is the first level, regular ESA certificate that the majority of applicants receive in the role of School Speech Language Pathologist. Graduating students will apply for this certificate as they near the end of their final quarter in the program or after graduation, depending on when they secure employment. To apply for your Initial ESA Certificate, students must complete and provide:
    • A completed Initial ESA application
    • Payment of the application & processing fee
    • Completed fingerprinting background check/clearance
    • Academic Transcripts as proof that you completed all coursework for the SLP degree. Provide:
      • An unofficial transcript with your completed coursework and grades recorded AND a program verification letter provided by the department* OR
      • An official transcript with degree conferral date
    • Proof that you have taken and received credit for SPHSC 550, a required 30-hour course approved by the Professional Educator Standards Boards. (This will be on your transcript)
    • Proof that you have passed the national SLP Praxis Exam. OSPI cannot receive score reports directly from ETS, so you must provide a copy in your application.
  2. Continuing ESA Certificate - this is the advanced level, regular certificate available in the role of School Speech Language Pathologist. Most applicants receive this certificate after holding an initial certificate and working in the WA schools for at least 180 days of full-time service.

Once a Continuing ESA (and ASHA CCCs as applicable) are granted, professionals must meet both ASHA’s and OSPI’s requirements for continuing education.

  • OSPI requires a minimum of 150 clock hours and/or equivalent academic credit (15 quarter or 10 semester credit hours) over a 5 year maintenance interval.
  • ASHA requires a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education across a 3 year maintenance interval.

SPHSC Department / Program Verification Letters for OSPI
SLP Interim ESA Credential Facilitation

Each graduating MS student intending to work in a school setting will be given a “Program Verification Letter” by the SPHSC department at the end of their program. The letter will be distributed the Wednesday immediately following the last day of the quarter in which any student graduates. The letter attests that the student has completed all the didactic and clinical requirements for the Master of Science degree in speech-language pathology (confirming the degree conferral date), including the 3 credit / 30 hour Public School Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology course required by OSPI.

The letter is a stop-gap measure for students who have secured employment and wish to immediately apply for an initial ESA certificate through OSPI, but do not yet have access to their transcripts from the UW with final grades recorded and/or degree posted (official transcripts are not typically available until 2-3 weeks following graduation). With the Program Verification Letter, students with secured employment can initiate their initial ESA application and then mail OSPI their transcripts once they become available.

Please note: Letters can only be provided once students have completed all their MS degree requirements and grades have been submitted and verified. Please do not request “early” letters, as we cannot provide them. If you secure employment prior to graduation, please realize you are ineligible to obtain an Initial ESA credential until you have completed your MS degree. Please be sure your employer knows this.

Please also be aware that with an August graduation date, some districts may not be willing to wait for your transcripts/degree completion and your interim permit to be processed. In these situations, some School Districts may require graduating students to obtain a Conditional ESA Certificate (instead of an Initial ESA Certificate) if they will be hired and contracted with prior to receiving their Master’ Degree or without enough time to process an Initial ESA application before an employment start date.

In this instance the graduate’s hiring school district would facilitate the application for a Conditional ESA and then once the degree was granted the new graduate would move to an Initial ESA. Information on the Conditional ESA Certificate and the application form can be found here.