Occupational Therapy Continuing Education Requirements
Occupational therapists, or OTs, must fulfill continuing education requirements in most states in order to maintain their licenses. Read on for more information on the purpose of and options for fulfilling continuing education requirements for OTs.
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 33% job growth for occupational therapists in the years 2010-2020. The BLS also stated that occupational therapists earned $75,400 as a median annual salary in May 2012.
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