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Communicative Disorders Assistant Program - Frequently Asked Questions

Currently, the Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) program is not offered on a part-time basis. It is currently not offered on-line.

A college diploma or a university degree in a related field (social, human, health-related studies) is required in order to apply to the CDA program. SLC does not require a reference letter or resume, but applicants are strongly encouraged to gain volunteer experience in the area of communication disorders prior to attending St. Lawrence College's CDA program.

You can expect to have classes both during the day and in early evening. All of your courses will be taught by professionals who are currently working in the field. You will have 8 courses in the first academic semester and 7 courses in the second academic semester. The semesters are 15 weeks. There is no final exam week, final exams or assignments are completed within the 15 week-semester. You can expect to be very busy and we typically recommend limiting time spent on extra-curricular activities or part-time jobs to no more than 10 hour per week. 

The CDA program is a 12-month program with only one intake per year in September: The academic schedule is as follows:

  • Fall semester (September to December): 14-week academic semester (CDAP 100, 101, 110, 120, 130, PROF 100, REHA 100)
  • Winter semester (January and February): 7-week condensed academic semester (CDAP 301, CDAP 310, PROF 300).
  • Winter semester (March and April): First 7-week full-time field placement.
  • Spring semester (May and June): Second 7-week full-time field placement.
  • Spring semester (July and August): 7-week condensed academic semester (CDAP 340, CDAP 350, REHA 300).

The fall, winter and spring semesters each have a one-week break week in the middle and there is a one-week break week between winter and spring semester. Students are required to pay tuition for each of the three semesters. Fall semester startup: Orientation is the day after Labour Day and classes start the Wednesday after Labour Day.

Prior to coming to St. Lawrence College, students are strongly encouraged to learn about the profession and to establish professional contacts with clinicians providing speech and language services. For example, students may wish to arrange for job-shadowing or volunteer opportunities to inform themselves about the clinical services a CDA may be providing. Often such professional connections make it significantly easier to secure field placements, as agencies are already familiar with a student. 

In July or August, the program coordinator will distribute a placement application form to students who are confirmed in the program. This application form will allow students to express their preferences in terms of location and caseload and to provide contact information for established contacts. In September, once students have begun their academic semester and are learning more about speech-language and hearing services provision, we support students in their initial field placement applications to specific agencies. Once an agency has accepted a student for placement, the CDA program coordinator in collaboration with a placement facilitator follows up with formal placement confirmation.

A suitable field placement site is an agency employing a Speech-Language pathologist, Audiologist, and/or CDA, who is prepared to supervise a student. These sites may include hospitals, children’s treatment centres, preschool speech & language programs, schools, private clinics, long term care facilities, and rehabilitation centres.

There are several placement opportunities in Kingston, but certainly not enough to accommodate all students. Students should be prepared to travel outside of the Kingston area to complete their field placements. Please keep this in mind when renting and signing a lease for the year as the program cannot guarantee a placement in and around Kingston based on a student signing a year’s lease. Many students prefer to complete their field placements in their home city and we try to secure placements in those locations accordingly. Please also consider that many placements require students to have their own transportation.

Note: We ask that students be flexible regarding field placement locations. We try our best to secure the kind of placements you want in the locations you want. There may not be field placement opportunities in your community of choice because positions are not available or because other students from the CDA Program and/or other colleges and universities may compete for the same positions. It is necessary to plan for extra housing costs for the duration of your field placement and to be flexible in terms of geographic location.

Students must successfully complete all academic courses in the fall and winter semester (minimum 60%) to be eligible for field placements. Other non-academic requirements include documentation of current immunization form, current Standard First Aid/CPR, and criminal reference check, including vulnerable sector screening.

Please note: The CPR course must be a Basic Life Support (BLS) course, formerly called CPR-HCP (Health Care Professional). Because some of our students are placed in hospitals, the requirement for the CPR course is HCP, which is now called BLS. If you have recently taken this level of CPR training, please be advised that the CPR certification expires after 12 months.

Immunizations: Immunization records should be completed and signed by your local family doctor or public health unit and must be submitted to SLC health centre. Please note: SLC does NOT offer immunization clinics on campus. 

Criminal background /vulnerable sector screen: If you have a Kingston address, you may obtain this documentation via online application at Kingston police. You may also contact your local police department or OPP. Please keep a file with digital and/or hard copies of your certificates and other documentation.

When you begin your academic program, you will be given access to the CDA program Placement Hub on Blackboard (Blackboard is the learning management system at SLC). There you will find due dates for submission and instructions on how to submit the required certificates.

Once you are attending SLC you will be required to complete the following legislated training modules through slc.me: AODA – Customer Service, Bill 168 and WHMIS. You will receive additional information about this once you have started the program.

Our website has information regarding housing services, including Residence and off-campus housing. Learn more about Residence in Kingston and off-campus housing in Kingston.

CDAs are employed in hospitals, school boards, private speech-language and audiology clinics, children’s treatment centres, long term care facilities, rehabilitation centres, and preschool speech and language programs. CDAs are also employed in non-traditional roles as our graduates come out with highly transferable skills. Some examples of other positions that a CDA may be employed in are in the following areas: Educational sector (educational assistant), sales/marketing for audiology or speech/augmentative equipment/materials, assistive technology resource for people with disabilities, or operation of workshops or support groups. Given the current job market, graduates should anticipate having to relocate across the province or country to find employment as a CDA.

You can expect a range between $20 - $26/hour. Annual salaries may range from $35,000 - $55,000. Please visit the Communicative Disorders Assistant Association of Canada (CDAAC) website, where you may find out more specific information by contacting the executive representative.

You can read more information about CDAs here:

  • Communicative Disorders Assistant Association of Canada (CDAAC) website: http://cdaac.ca/
  • Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) website – see tab for Communication Health Assistant: http://sac-oac.ca/