Occupational Therapist Training
Occupational therapists are regulated in all 50 States. Individuals pursuing
a career as an occupational therapist usually need to earn a post-baccalaureate
degree from an accredited college or university or education deemed equivalent.
Education and training. A master's degree
or higher in occupational therapy is the typical minimum requirement for entry
into the field. In addition, occupational therapists must attend an academic
program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy
Education (ACOTE) in order to sit for the national certifying exam. In 2009, 150
master's degree programs or combined bachelor's and master's degree programs
were accredited, and 4 doctoral degree programs were accredited. Most schools
have full-time programs, although a growing number are offering weekend or
part-time programs as well. Coursework in occupational therapy programs include
the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences as well as the application of
occupational therapy theory and skills. All accredited programs require at least
24 weeks of supervised fieldwork as part of the academic curriculum.
People considering this profession should take high school courses in
biology, chemistry, physics, health, art, and the social sciences. College
admissions offices also look favorably on paid or volunteer experience in the
healthcare field. Relevant undergraduate majors include biology, psychology,
sociology, anthropology, liberal arts, and anatomy.
Licensure. All States regulate the
practice of occupational therapy. To obtain a license, applicants must graduate
from an accredited educational program and pass a national certification
examination. Those who pass the exam are awarded the title "Occupational
Therapist Registered (OTR)." Specific eligibility requirements for licensure
vary by State; contact your State�s licensing board for details.
Some States have additional requirements for therapists who work in schools
or early intervention programs. These requirements may include education-related
classes, an education practice certificate, or early intervention certification.
Certification and other qualifications.
Certification is voluntary. The National Board for Certifying Occupational
Therapy certifies occupational therapists through a national certifying exam.
Those who pass the test are awarded the title Occupational Therapist Registered
(OTR). In some States, the national certifying exam meets requirements for
regulation while other States have their own licensing exam.
Occupational therapists are expected to continue their professional
development by participating in continuing education courses and workshops. In
fact, a number of States require continuing education as a condition of
Occupational therapists need patience and strong interpersonal skills to
inspire trust and respect in their clients. Patience is necessary because many
clients may not show immediate improvement. Ingenuity and imagination in
adapting activities to individual needs are assets. Those working in home
healthcare services also must be able to adapt to a variety of settings.
Advancement. Therapists are increasingly
taking on supervisory roles in addition to their supervision of occupational
therapy assistants and aides. Occupational therapists may advance their careers
by taking on administrative duties at hospitals or rehabilitation centers.
Occupational therapists also can advance by specializing in a clinical area
and gaining expertise in treating a certain type of patient or ailment.
Therapists may specialize in gerontology, mental health, pediatrics, and
physical rehabilitation. In addition, some occupational therapists choose to
teach classes in accredited occupational therapy educational programs.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
Find related resources below:
Occupational Therapist Employment
Occupational Therapist Training
Occupational Therapist Job Outlook
Occupational Therapist Income