Prospective students interested in the field of occupational therapy need to know how they can begin walking the path towards fulfilling their career aspirations. It’s one thing to have a vague goal of what you want to accomplish or become, and it’s another to know exactly what you need to do and achieve to get there. Use this quick guide to learn how to become an occupational therapist and you’ll already be one step closer towards getting it done.
The first thing that you’ll need to do is choose an educational program to attend. Today, there are more than 150 programs across the country, in at least 45 states. This means you’ll have a wide array of choices. The only thing you have to make sure of is that your school is accredited by the ACOTE. That’s the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, and any legitimate program will hold this.
The most common degree path is a master’s program in Occupational Therapy for those already holding bachelor degree. This will take about two years and five semesters to complete, and will include at least 24 weeks of hands-on clinical training and experience. The majority of programs available are of this type.
There are also bachelors to masters programs available for students starting without a degree, but already sure they want to pursue occupational therapy. This will make for a smooth transition between levels and ensure a quick and successful journey. Some individuals advance past their masters to gain a doctoral level degree in occupational therapy, although that is rare. There are only four Ph.D programs in the United States for occupational therapists at this time.
Upon completing your masters degree, it will be time to take the national examination to gain your license. This test is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, or NBCOT. The only requirements will be the completed masters degree from an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy program. Complete the program and pass your test, and you’ll be in line to receive your license and then become a practicing occupational therapist.
If you’re beginning with a bachelors degree already in hand, the whole process will take about two and a half years to complete at a full-time schedule. There are also a number of part-time, evening and weekend programs becoming available. However, at this time there are no online programs available, so you’ll have to choose a local institution.
As you can see, the path towards becoming an occupational therapist is fairly straightforward, and it shouldn’t be too difficult. Depending on your current level of education, you can choose either a bachelors-masters program, or if you already have a degree, then jump right into a masters level program. Be sure to study at an accredited school, get the right hands on experience, pass your licensure exam and then you’ll be good to go and ready to enter the workforce.