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How to Become an Occupational Therapist Arizona

Arizona is home to the largest population of any landlocked US state which creates plenty of opportunity for Occupational Therapists. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor and statistics compiled data showing that Arizona employed approximately 1,200 Occupational Therapists and the sector is expected to grow about 33% faster than the average for the US economy in the decade of 2010 to 2020. According to the BLS Occupational Therapists in Arizona could expect a median salary of $76,300 per year.

The Arizona Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners is this state’s licensing body, issuing licenses for Occupational Therapists in Arizona or Occupational Therapy Assistants in the state. To practice as either of these professionals in Arizona, you will need to fulfill the following steps:

Arizona Physical Therapy Certification

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • You must earn an Associate’s degree or higher in Occupational Therapy from an American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTE) certified school.
  • Submit proof of at least 680 hours of occupational therapy supervised field experience as part of a practicum developed by your school or as paid work experience.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Provide at least two letters of reference from a supervisor or professor.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination.
  • Complete 12 hours of Continuing Education credits during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

Registered Occupational Therapist

  • You must earn a Bachelor or Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from an American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTE) certified school.
  • Performed at least 928 hours of occupational therapy work experience.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • Provide at least two letters of reference from a supervisor or professor.
  • Complete 20 hours of Continuing Education credits during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist here.

For a more detailed description for becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Registered Occupational Therapist, please read the following.

Step 1: Graduate from an Accredited Occupational Therapy Degree Program

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete a two year program from an accredited OT program and graduate with an Associate’s degree to serve as a Occupational Therapy Assistant. In Arizona there are four colleges with National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) accreditation:

  • Brown Mackie College-Phoenix
  • Brown Mackie College-Tucson
  • Pima Medical Institute-Mesa
  • Pima Medical Institute-Tuscon

Registered Occupational Therapist

You must graduate with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an NBCOT accredited university to serve as a Registered Occupational Therapist in Arizona. Arizona currently has two schools with approved OT programs:

  • Midwestern University-Glendale
  • Arizona School of Health Sciences

Step 2: Complete Supervised Field Work Requirements

Most OT degree programs offer students the opportunity to work under a Registered Occupational Therapist in order to gain firsthand knowledge of this profession and satisfy state licensing requirements.

Occupational Therapy Assistants:

You must complete 680 hours of supervised field work and submit it to the state licensing body to obtain a license for Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking to practice as a Registered Occupational Therapist in Arizona, you must complete 928 hours of supervised clinical experience in an internship or paid setting.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) offers paper and online exams for both Occupational Therapy Assistants and Registered Occupational Therapists. The online exam costs $500, while the fee for the paper exam is $540. If you fail this exam you may retake the exam after 45 days, and may continue to do so until you pass.

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must pass the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam to obtain national certification.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you wish to acquire national certification as a Registered Occupational Therapist, you must pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam.

Step 4: Apply for a License

If you wish to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Registered Occupational Therapist in Arizona, you must complete the following steps to obtain a license.

  • Submit a signed, notarized application
  • Submit two signed professional recommendations
  • Provide NBCOT notice of verification
  • Submit fingerprint card
  • Provide statement of citizenship and alien status
  • Pay a $100 application fee and a $22 fingerprint fee
  • If you are seeking an Occupational Therapy Assistant License you must pay a $70 license fee; if you are applying for an

Occupational Therapist license you must pay a $100 license fee

The Arizona Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners meets regularly to review license applications. A license is typically issued by mail within two weeks of the next board meeting.

Step 5: Maintaining Your License

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to maintain your Occupational Therapy Assistant License, you must complete 12 continuing education units every two years.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are a practicing Registered Occupational Therapist, you must complete 20 CEUs every two years.

The following state and national professional associations may be able to assist you with further information: