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Career Advice

Deciding Your Path: SLPA License vs. Grad School for Speech-Language Pathology

Graduate students

by Mariah Sparacio, National School Recruiter at Epic Special Education Staffing

If you’ve decided to begin a career in Speech-Language Pathology, you might be considering starting as an SLPA or going straight to grad school. This decision can significantly shape your future, and it should be approached with care and consideration. At Epic Special Education Staffing, we understand the importance of making the right choice, so we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for both paths. By weighing the benefits and drawbacks, you can determine which option best aligns with your circumstances and goals.

Obtaining Your SLPA License First

If you decide to obtain your SLPA license first, there are a few benefits to consider. First and foremost, gaining experience before grad school can be invaluable. Working as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant can allow you to develop your skills and gain a deeper understanding of the field. This experience can help you get accepted to grad school due to its competitive nature. Working as an SLPA gives you a strong foundation and practical experience to help your application stand out.

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to consider as well. The transition can be difficult, especially if you have been out of school for a while. Taking a break from school or the workforce can make jumping back into the student lifestyle and schedule harder.

Nonetheless, starting as an SLPA can provide valuable experience and insight into the daily responsibilities of a Speech-Language Pathologist, helping you make a more informed decision about your future career goals. 

SLPA Pros and Cons


Go Straight to Grad School

There are a few opportunities and obstacles if you consider going straight to grad school. One advantage of going straight to grad school is reaching peak earnings earlier in life. As a licensed Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), you can almost double your salary compared to working as an assistant. 

However, going straight to grad school can also be a lot to balance. During your undergrad studies, you can expect to have a busy schedule with your coursework. If you go straight to grad school, you will have many pieces to balance: school, coursework, researching schools, applying to colleges, taking graduate school entrance exams (GRE), and possibly planning to relocate. 

Despite these challenges, going straight to grad school can be a wise choice that will allow you to reach your career goals quicker, and you will gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a successful SLP. 

Grad school Pros and Cons

Choosing the Right Path for Your Career

Speech-Language Pathology is rewarding and constantly evolving, offering many opportunities for growth and professional development. It is important to remember that deciding to become an SLPA or go straight to grad school ultimately depends on your circumstances and goals. Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks, and it’s up to you to determine which course is suitable. Regardless of your path, always remember that you are entering a noble profession that will help patients of all ages achieve their speech goals.

If you are still trying to decide whether to begin your career as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant or dive straight into graduate school, remember it is up to you! You can do whatever makes sense for your situation and your career goals. 

We’re Here to Help

Starting your career in Speech-Language Pathology can be an exciting but daunting decision. By weighing the pros and cons of both options, you can make an informed decision that will set you up for long-term success.

If you’re seeking additional advice or job opportunities in Speech-Language Pathology, Epic Special Education Staffing has many experienced recruiters ready to connect with you! Our dedicated recruiters serve as a valuable resource in offering guidance and helping you navigate the job search process to land your next SLP or SLPA career. Contact us today to connect with a recruiter and learn more about the available job opportunities for both career paths.

No matter your path, Epic Special Education Staffing is here to support you every step of the way.



About the Author:

Mariah Sparacio is a National School Recruiter at Epic Special Education Staffing. With over five years of recruiting experience, Mariah is responsible for staffing school-based clinicians across the United States. Mariah is passionate about building relationships with candidates and prides herself on active communication and transparency. Mariah credits her success to identifying what a candidate is looking for in their next career and valuing what makes them truly happy and motivated to show up to work each day! Mariah enjoys estate sale hunting, DIY home décor projects, & afternoon walks. Mariah earned her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and resides in Texas with her husband, David, and tabby cat.