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How to Become an Occupational Therapist in Arkansas

Arkansas is has one of the best median pay scales in the US for Occupational Therapists making it a great state to start your career as an Occupational Therapist. The Bureau of Labor and statistics reports that their census data in 2010 showed that Arkansas employed over 1,000 Occupational Therapists, and additionally they anticipate that the sector will grow about 33% faster than the average for the US economy in the current decade to 2020. The BLS also has statistics that show that Occupational Therapists in Arkansas in 2010 had a median yearly salary of $74, 160.

The Arkansas State Medical Board licenses Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants. To practice in either of these professions in Arkansas, you will need to fulfill the following:

Arkansas Physical Therapy Certification

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • You must earn an Associate’s degree or higher in Occupational Therapy from an American Medical Association AND American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) certified school.
  • Submit proof of at least two months of occupational therapy supervised field experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist as paid work experience.
  • You can find the supervision form for Occupational Therapy Assistants here.
  • 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 Medical Association AND American
  • Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) certified school.
  • Submit proof of at least six months of occupational therapy supervised field experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist as paid 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.

The exact requirements to obtain licensure for Registered Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant are detailed in the following steps.

Step 1: Graduate from an Accredited Occupational Therapy School

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

If you wish to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Arkansas, you must possess at least an Associate’s degree from an accredited college. Arkansas is home to three schools with two year OT programs:

  • Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus
  • South Arkansas Community College
  • Baptist Health Schools-Little Rock

Registered Occupational Therapist:

A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an accredited OT program is required if you wish to serve as a Registered Occupational Therapist. Arkansas supports one university with an NBCOT approved OT baccalaureate program:

  • University of Central Arkansas

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Practicum

Arkansas requires that OT professionals serve in a clinical setting under the supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist prior to licensure. This experience is most often procured through the assistance of college OT programs.

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must provide proof of at least two months of supervised clinical work in order to obtain an Occupational Therapy Assistant license.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

You must provide evidence of at least six months of field work under the supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist to obtain you R.O.T. license.

Step 3: Acquire National Accreditation

In order to obtain accreditation from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), you must successfully pass the appropriate national certification exam. These exams are available in paper or digital form, with the paper exam costing $540 and the online exam costing $500. You may repeat taking this exam as many times as necessary to pass, but you must wait 45 days between tests.

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

If you wish to be an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you must pass the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking a license as a Registered Occupational Therapist, you must pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam.

Step 4: Apply for a License

Whether you are seeking an Occupational Therapist license or an Occupational Therapy Assistant license, you must complete the following tasks prior to an issuance of license.

  • Request that the NBCOT send a Notice of Verification and score report to the Arkansas State Medical Board
  • Submit a completed, signed application
  • Present a copy of identification
  • Complete a background check
  • Submit a license fee of $75 for an Occupational Therapist license, or $50 for an Occupational Therapy Assistant License
  • Provide proof of citizenship or work visa
  • Provide Verification of Licensure from prior states in which you have practices
  • Provide Verification of Hospital or Facility Affiliation, describing therapy related experience

Issuance of license is typically expeditious, but may be prolonged due to extensive work history, prior complaints, or delays in documentation receipt.

Step 5: Maintain Your License

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least 12 continuing education units within every two year licensure period in order to retain your Occupational Therapy Assistant License.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you wish to maintain your Occupational Therapist License, you must obtain 20 continuing education credits every two years.

There are several OT professional organizations that may be able to assist you with further information: