Occupational Therapy Continuing Education Requirements

Occupational therapy requires significant formal education in addition to continuing education. Learn about the continuing education requirements, educational options and licensure information to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Occupational therapists, or OTs, must fulfill continuing education requirements in most states in order to maintain their licenses. Those new to the field need to earn an undergraduate degree before pursuing a master's or doctorate in occupational therapy; some states require doctoral degrees, while others do not.

Required Education Master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy, depending on the state
Licensing Mandatory in all states; therapists must pass the exam provided by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists (NBCOT)
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 29%
Median Salary (2013)* $76,940

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Purpose of Continuing Education Requirements for Occupational Therapists

After finishing graduate school, all states require occupational therapy students to be licensed before practicing occupational therapy on patients. Some states provide their own licensing exam, while other states use the national certification exam given by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) as their licensing exam. OTs in states that do not use the NBCOT's exam as their licensing exam can use it for voluntary certification. Anyone passing this exam will earn the designation Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR).

In order to renew their licenses in many states, OTs must complete a certain amount of continuing education. The purpose of continuing education is to refresh a therapist's existing skills or help practicing therapists become acquainted with the newest developments in the field that were not available while they were training. OTs must typically complete a specified number of courses or hands-on training activities to earn continuing education credits and maintain their licenses.

Continuing Education Options

Professional organizations like the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA), offer various continuing education options for OTs. Options may include live workshops, online classes, webcasts, podcasts, courses on CD, symposiums and articles. The topics covered may focus on particular practice areas, such as mental health, the aging population and disability, or be more general in nature and apply to all practitioners.

Content of Continuing Education

Depending on the state, OTs may be required to earn continuing education credit on specific topics. Some state laws require that OTs earn credit pertaining to the legal regulations of occupational therapy or the prevention of errors. For other states that do not have content-specific requirements, general topics that are potentially relevant may include evaluating assistive technology and ethics.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 29% job growth for occupational therapists in the years 2012-2022. The BLS also stated that occupational therapists earned $76,940 as a median annual salary in May 2013.

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