How Much Schooling Does an Occupational Therapist Need?

An occupational therapist helps people with physical, mental and emotional challenges improve their daily lives through consistent physical exercises and routines. 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 awards accreditation to occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs (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 you may be given the chance to explain how you would treat a patient. Some schools may give you the opportunity to complete your fieldwork at various therapy centers, so you are able to work with patients of different ages with a range of physical issues or disabilities.

Important Facts About Occupational Therapists

Job Outlook (2016-2026)24%
Median Salary (2018)$84,270
Online AvailabilityFull coursework online if already certified; onsite training required if not
Similar OccupationsPhysical therapist, athletic trainer, recreational therapist, exercise physiologist

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensing Requirements

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 Therapist 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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Saybrook University

    Saybrook University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saybrook University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Towson University

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
  • Howard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • University of Florida

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Gainesville