Online Occupational Therapy Assistant Certification Info

Research certification options for occupational therapy assistants. Get an overview of certification types and requirements to make informed decisions about a career in this field.

Essential Information

There are two major industry-recognized certification options available to occupational therapy assistants (OTAs). The application process for these starts online, but the OTAs must meet certain in-person requirements to earn the credentials The primary professional certification for OTAs is offered through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The certification exam is proctored and administered only via designated testing sites. OTAs can prepare for this exam, however, by taking a practice test online through the agency's website.

A secondary certification is available from the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA). This one is a specialty certification that applies to a specific skill set and area of focus in occupational therapy. Both credentialing organizations require substantial work experience and a passing grade on the NBCOT certification exam. OTAs must also be licensed by the state in which they practice. NBCOT certification satisfies this requirement in some states; however, other states conduct their own licensing tests.

Online Availability Apply online; but, much of the certification criteria must be completed in-person; NBCOT practice tests are offered online.
Certifications Available Primary professional certification is available from the NBCOT; Specialty certifications are available from the AOTA.
Important Prerequisites ACOTE-accredited degree; state licensure; NBCOT exam
In-person Requirements Proctored exam; work experience

NBCOT Certification Requirements

NBCOT certification requires OTAs to pass the NBCOT COTA exam. COTA, of course, stands for Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. The exam tests candidates' knowledge of such things as collecting pertinent patient information; implementing patient healthcare plans and therapeutic procedures; and upholding professional standards in the workplace. In addition to passing this exam, NBCOT certification requires OTAs to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Graduate with a degree that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
  • Complete all fieldwork requirements
  • Agree to follow the NBCOT code of conduct

AOTA Certification Requirements

AOTA specialty certification gives candidates the opportunity to prove their expertise in providing occupational therapy as applicable to a particular life skill or situation. For example, candidates may be tested over their OT skills for helping a patient re-learn how to drive a car. 'Driving & Community Mobility' is one of five specialty certification areas for which students may choose to take an exam. The additional test areas include: 'Environmental Modification'; 'Feeding, Eating, Swallowing'; 'Low Vision'; and 'School Systems'. Criteria for AOTA specialty certification varies per specialty area, but the basics are as follows:

  • Graduation with an ACOTE-accredited degree for OTAs
  • Certification from NBCOT
  • Compliance with state licensure requirements
  • Experience that includes a minimum of 2,000 work hours as an OT assistant over the past five years, with at least 600 hours spent working within the desired specialty certification area

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