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For those who plan to become occupational therapists, going back to school to complete the necessary educational requirements is certainly the first step toward making this dream a reality. Still, it is important to realize that launching a career as an occupational therapist requires doing more than just going to school, as every state in the country also requires professionals in this field to obtain their occupational therapy certification, or licensure, before they can work in this field.
In order to obtain your occupational therapy certification or license, you will first need to earn a degree from an accredited educational institution. With 150 master’s degree or mixed bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs in occupational therapy available in 2009, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a school that meets your needs.
After graduating from an accredited degree program, the next step in obtaining your occupational therapy certification or license is to take and to pass a national certification examination. After passing this exam, you will be awarded the title of Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR).
While these basic requirements for obtaining your occupational therapy certification or licensure are the same from state to state, each state may have additional regulations for certification in place. Therefore, before you register for classes, it is a good idea to check with the state in which you plan to work in order to learn more about the occupational therapy certification or licensure requirements that state has in place.
If you plan to specialize in a specific area, such as working in schools or with early intervention problems, you should be aware that additional certification or licensure requirements may be in place. For example, your state may require you to take education-related classes or to obtain an education practice certificate or early intervention certificate.
Aside from obtaining your license, any additional occupational therapy certification that you might choose to obtain is voluntary. For example, if your state does not use National Board of Certifying Occupational Therapy’s exam as part of obtaining your licensure, you may choose to take the test anyway in order to be awarded the title of Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). Although obtaining voluntary occupational therapy certification may not be required by your state, working toward obtaining this additional certification is a good career move. In fact, many employers will require additional certification from applicants before they will consider hiring them. Among those that do not require additional certification, taking the time to obtain additional occupational therapy certification will be looked upon favorably when it comes time to get a job.
In order to maintain your occupational therapy certification or licensure, you generally need to complete a certain number of continuing education classes within a pre-determined amount of time. This requirement is put into place in order to ensure that you are continually remaining up-to-date with the latest research and proven practices for assisting your clients.
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