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How to Become and Occupational Therapist in Alabama

Alabama has a rich history and is a lovely state to start or continue one’s career as an Occupational Therapist. The state of Alabama had over 1,000 Occupational Therapists and is expected to rise over the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor and statistics. The BLS also reports a median state wide pay of $69,180 per year.

The Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy (ASBOT) is the licensing body for all occupational therapy professionals in the state of Alabama. ASBOT licenses Occupational Therapist Assistants as well as Occupational Therapists utilizing the following processes:

Occupational Therapist Assistant:

  • You must earn an Associate’s degree or higher in Occupational Therapist Assistant program from an American Occupational
  • Therapy Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTE) certified school.
  • Submit proof of at least 8 weeks of supervised field experience as part of a practicum developed by your school or as paid work experience.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination.
  • Complete 10 hours of Continuing Education credits during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application here.

Registered Occupational Therapist

  • You must earn a Bachelor or Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy program from an American Occupational Therapy
  • Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTE) certified school.
  • Submit proof of at least 24 weeks of supervised field work experience as part of a practicum developed by your school or as paid work experience.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • Complete 10 hours of Continuing Education credits during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application here.
Alabama Physical Therapy Certification

The steps to becoming either of these include:

Step 1: Obtain the Required Education
Occupational Therapy Assistants:

In order to become an Occupational Therapist Assistant, you must graduate from a two year Occupational Therapist program with an Associate’s degree.

The state of Alabama also has two schools that the NBCOT formally recognizes as having accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant degree programs:

  • George C Wallace State Community College
  • Wallace State Community College at Faulkner State Community College

Registered Occupational Therapist

If you plan on becoming an Occupational Therapist, you must first obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an accredited Occupational Therapy degree program.

There are four schools in Alabama with accredited Occupational Therapy programs that is recognized by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT):

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Alabama State University
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of South Alabama

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Practicum

Most of the schools that offer Occupational Therapy degrees also provide internships or practicums. These formal training opportunities will help provide you firsthand experience in a clinical setting under the tutelage of a practicing Occupational Therapist.

Occupational Therapist Assistant:

If you are seeking a job as an occupational therapy assistant, you only need eight weeks of supervised field work.
Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are planning on becoming a Registered Occupational Therapist, you must have at least 24 weeks of supervised field work.

Step 3: Obtain National Certification

In order to practice occupational therapy in the state of Alabama, you must first pass the appropriate exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The cost for these exams is $540 for a paper exam and $500 for an online exam. Additional score reports are $40 each, and confirmation of exam registration notices are $45 each. If you fail an exam, you must wait at least 45 days before re-taking the exam. The NBCOT permits you to take an exam as many times as you desire.

Occupational Therapist Assistant:

If you are a prospective Occupational Therapist Assistant, you must successfully complete the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking licensure for a career as a Registered Occupational Therapist, you must complete and pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam.

Step 4: Take the Alabama Licensing Exam and Submit a License Application

Twice a year, ASBOT provides Registered Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapist Assistants the opportunity to take a written exam to demonstrate competencies necessary to practice.

Following the exam, you will need to submit the following to the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy to apply for a license:

  • Complete a signed application
  • License verification from states in which you have held an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapist Assistant license
  • Letter of Verification from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
  • Names of licensed occupational therapist supervisors for COTA’s
  • A check or money order for $115 for OTR licenses, or $95 for COTA licenses

Upon approval, a limited permit will be issued to the applicant and will allow you to practice occupational therapy until the results of your state licensing exam are made public. If you pass the exam, a license will be issued to applicants within a few weeks.

Step 5: Maintaining Your License

Registered Occupational Therapists:

Occupational Therapists must complete 1.5 continuing education units (CEU) each year or 3.0 CEUs every two years in order to maintain their license.

Occupational Therapy Assistants:

Occupational Therapy Assistants must complete 1.0 CEU each year or 2.0 CEUs every two years to retain their license.

There are several professional associations in Alabama that may be of use to you in establishing a practice, developing a network of business partners or attracting clients. These include