How does one become an Occupational Therapist?
To become an OT, a person must first obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in a related or unrelated field. Currently, all occupational therapy programs are at the Master’s degree or Doctoral degree level. Prior to applying/entering an occupational therapy program, special prerequisite classes are required to be taken. These include anatomy and physiology, biology, medical terminology, and developmental psychology. Once admitted to an occupational therapy program, a student takes classes such as gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, and other courses addressing development throughout the lifespan. In the student’s first year, weekly field work experiences are included in real life OT settings. During the second year, a student participates in between 2-3 longer field work affiliations that are at least 12 weeks each. It is in these field work affiliations that the student gradually grows into a “therapist” by shadowing and eventually taking over a full caseload of a therapist. Following these affiliations, the graduate takes a national examination to become certified as a therapist. Finally, this certification allows the therapist to become licensed to work in a specific state(s). For the Doctoral degree there is additional coursework focusing on research within the field of occupational therapy as well as other related fields.