How Much Schooling Does an Occupational Therapist Need?
Do you want to help people with physical, mental and emotional challenges improve their daily lives through consistent physical exercises and routines? If so, you may want to pursue a master's degree and enter the field of occupational therapy. Read on for more information on the education requirements for occupational therapists. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Occupational Therapist Schooling Requirements
To become an occupational therapist, you will need to graduate from an accredited master's or doctoral degree program in occupational therapy to qualify for licensing. The American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education has awarded accreditation to over 287 occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs as of 2011 (www.aota.org).
Most programs are full-time, although you can complete some on a part-time basis. Coursework will typically cover topics such as biology, physiology, behavioral science and occupational therapy techniques. Accredited programs always include at least six months of supervised fieldwork, which is required to complete your program.
Fieldwork is usually done under the supervision of an experienced occupational therapist. Typically, you will begin by observing. You may ask questions and may be given the chance to explain how you would treat a patient. Some schools may give you the opportunity to complete you fieldwork at various therapy centers, so you are able to work with patients of different ages with a range of physical issues or disabilities.
To practice as an occupational therapist in the U.S., you must obtain a license, which requires passing a licensing examination. The exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, which allows you to use the title Occupational Therapists Registered (OTR), is used in some states as the licensing exam (www.nbcot.org). However, each state regulates licensure and some states may have different licensing tests and other requirements that must be met to become licensed.
Continuing education is typically required to maintain licensure. To maintain the OTR designation, you must complete 36 units of professional development training or coursework within the 3-year renewal period to be awarded re-certification.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: