Occupational Therapy Certificate
Required Certification or Licensure:
Though the rules vary somewhat from country to country, almost all places will require occupational therapists to have a certification of some sort. These certifications are usually granted by government agencies and the requirements may be somewhat varied depending on the area in which the individual lives. It is always important to be up to date on current local requirements and guidelines as to the degree one wishes to pursue.
Some, but not all, occupational therapy certifications will require the individual to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field. Some programs and schools are more stringent about what the bachelor’s degree must be in, so it is always important for one to know the exact policies of any school or institution he or she is considering attending. Other programs may require a master’s degree in addition to the bachelor’s degree. It is also important that the institution one attends is accredited through the appropriate agencies. Not every school is accredited and going with the wrong one can make an individual’s degree or certification useless. Individuals should visit or call certification boards in their areas to be sure they understand the accreditation process and what qualifies a particular school or program as “accredited.”
In most cases, students have to meet additional requirements after receiving their degrees in order to work as occupational therapists. Most programs will require internships or experiential learning courses. In addition to these, students must take a certification exam. Some, but not all, schools or programs will educate students on how to apply to take the exam and on when and where exams are held in the local area. Exams may only be held at certain times during the year or on certain days, so it is wise for students to find out this information as soon as possible and to make preparations for testing. Special classes or study sessions may be offered prior to the exam, and it is in the student’s best interest to attend as many of these as possible. Coursework done beforehand is designed to prepare the student for the certification exam, but there are always going to be particular areas that one will need to pay special attention to or learn additional information about in order to pass the certification exam.
Many students are afraid that if they do not pass the exam on the first try, they will never find work as an occupational therapist. This is not the case at all. Even if one fails, a score report will be sent to the student. He or she should then carefully study the report to determine what areas contributed to the failing score. These areas should, of course, be studied further before the student prepares to take the exam again. In some areas, there are limitations on how often the exam can be taken and how long a passing score is valid.
Getting an occupational therapy degree or certification can be a long process, but it is necessary in order to secure a career as an occupational therapist and to do well and prosper in the field.