Many states mandate that occupational therapists complete a required amount of continuing education in order to renew their license. Continuing education opportunities include workshops, courses, online articles and other resources offered through professional organizations.
Occupational therapists, or OTs, must fulfill continuing education requirements in most states in order to maintain their licenses. Those new to the field need to earn an undergraduate degree before pursuing a master's or doctorate in occupational therapy; some states require doctoral degrees, while others do not.
|Required Education||Master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy, depending on the state|
|Licensing||Mandatory in all states; therapists must pass the exam provided by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists (NBCOT)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||27%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$80,150|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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 27% job growth for occupational therapists in the years 2014-2024. The BLS also stated that occupational therapists earned $80,150 as a median annual salary in May 2015.
Completing continuing education workshops, lectures, classes and courses help occupational therapists keep up with developments in their industry and is required by many states for license renewal. Several opportunities are offered through organizations such as the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. Occupational therapy jobs are growing at a much faster rate than average for other jobs.