A Guide to Becoming an Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapists (OT) are Allied Health practitioners that help patients regain physical and cognitive function for daily life after injury or illness. In the same way, they also assist individuals with various disabilities, equipping them with skills to improve their quality of life in everyday activities.  

Occupational Therapy is a growing field that is known for work stability and flexibility. Not to mention, it can be a fulfilling career choice for empathetic and patient individuals who possess an innate ability to problem-solve and communicate effectively.  

Acquire the Necessary Pre-Requisites 

OT programs are competitive graduate programs that require a Bachelor of Science (BS) for application. Some programs offer a combination BS/Master of Science (MS) program that accepts an occupational therapy assistant associate degree to apply.  

A BS in a science-related field, such as biology, psychology, or physiology is ideal to help meet academic pre-requisites towards acceptance into an OT program. As well, most OT programs require a certain number of observation hours to be completed prior to admittance.  

Find a School  

When researching OT schools, it’s helpful to know which type of program you’re hoping to pursue: Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD). The latter is a good choice if you plan to pursue leadership or academic positions at some point in your career.  

Other considerations to keep in mind when selecting an OT school are location, tuition, and job placement assistance. Keep in mind, it takes on average two to three years to earn a degree in Occupational Therapy. 

Consider a Specialty  

When applying for OT programs, it may be helpful to consider if you plan to pursue a specialty or would like to work with a specific patient population.  OTs can pursue specialties in disciplines such as rehabilitation, pediatrics, and even mental health. This as well can help you identify the school that matches your career goals. 

Sit for the National Board  

Once you’ve completed an accredited OT program, you’ll need to sit for the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After passing the NBCOT exam, you’ll need to apply for licensure in the state where you plan to work. Most states have various continuing education requirements that must be met annually to keep your license valid.  

Once you’re ready to begin your career as an OT, we can help you find your job fit.  

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