Occupational licensing is the regulation of conditions required to practice an occupation legally. Every state and the District of Columbia have occupational licensure requirements for audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs). The process of regulating providers is a way to (1) ensure that providers meet minimum educational and training requirements deemed appropriate to practice; (2) protect consumers’ health and safety; and (3) provide a means for due process.
Occupational reform has become a hot topic as states look for ways to reevaluate practice requirements, reduce costs, and eliminate restrictions that are not related to public safety.
Impact on Audiologists and SLPs
States are addressing the topic of occupational licensure in a variety of ways that could impact audiologists and SLPs. These changes are focused on increasing oversight of licensing boards, implementing least restrictive means of regulating professions (which may, for example, prohibit individuals from identifying themselves as ASHA-certified), or instituting periodic review of occupational licensure laws.
Legislation has been introduced that would do the following:
- Require professions to be regulated by the least restrictive means. Backed by model legislation from the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian public interest law firm, these bills would require states to periodically review occupational licensure and regulate professions from the least restrictive to the most restrictive manner. If enacted, this legislation could undermine recognition of ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). ASHA certification is the fundamental standard and the most widely recognized symbol of competency for audiologists (CCC-A) and SLPs (CCC-SLP).
- Require individuals who are not associated with our professions to oversee changes to the scope of practice or to perform a periodic review of the practice act. In some cases, legislative efforts have attempted to reduce the number of audiologists and/or SLPs who serve on a licensure board that governs the professions. Both models would weaken the capacity of a board to understand the issues facing the professions and the scope of practice that we follow.
- Prohibit professionals from identifying themselves as holding a professional certification like CCC-A or CCC-SLP. This language may be detrimental to voluntary certifications that are not required to practice an occupation in any state but that demonstrate an individual’s professional knowledge and competence in a field.
Stay Informed and Get Involved
- Read the full Issue Brief [PDF] on ASHA’s position and advocacy strategy with decision makers.
- Be an advocate! Review ASHA’s talking points so you know what to say on this issue.
- Visit ASHA’s State-by-State page to see what the requirements are for your state.
ASHA’s Advocacy on Occupational Licensure
ASHA responds to occupational licensing reform efforts in states that would negatively impact audiologists and/or SLPs and those we service. States are introducing legislation that impacts more than 100 professional certification programs. The Professional Certification Coalition, which ASHA joined, works together to amplify our collective voices on this issue. ASHA sends letters to states, commenting on occupational licensure reform that could impact audiologists or SLPs.
See ASHA's full list of comments, letters, and testimonies.
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