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Requirements to Become an Occupational Therapist in Florida

With its dazzling beaches and myriad natural beauty Florida is a great state to live in and also a great state to become an Occupational Therapist. Florida has a robust population of Occupational Therapists with over 6,160 active OT licenses. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics believes that the Occupational Therapy sector should grow at a rate that is 33% faster than the average for the US economy in the decade ending in 2020. The BLS features information on average salaries showing that Occupational Therapists in Florida had a 2010 median yearly salary of $79,560.

In the state of Florida, the Board of Occupational Therapy Practice is responsible for licensing OT professionals. There are two levels of licensure in Florida the Occupational Therapy Assistant and the Occupational Therapist. While you are waiting to sit for your examination you can apply for a temporary license to practice at either level.

If you want to become an Occupational Therapist in Florida, or an Occupational Therapy Assistant you will need to fulfill the following steps:

Florida Physical Therapy Certification

FL, 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.
  • Performed at least 2 months of occupational therapy work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational therapist.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • You must complete a two hour course on Preventing Medical Errors.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 20 hours of CEU during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

FL, 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 6 months of occupational therapy work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational therapist.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • You must complete a two hour course on Preventing Medical Errors.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 20 hours of CEU during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist here.

The exact details on how to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Registered Occupational Therapist are as follows.

Step 1: Graduate from an Accredited Occupational Therapy Degree Program

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete a degree program from an ACOTE accredited college and obtain at least an Associate’s degree prior to licensure as an Occupied Therapy Assistant. In Florida, there seven schools with ACOTE accreditation for Occupational

Therapy Assistant programs:

  • Keiser University
  • Adventist University of Health Sciences
  • Florida State College-Jacksonville
  • Daytona State College
  • Concorde Career Institute-Miramar
  • Polk State College
  • State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota

Registered Occupational Therapist:

Prior to licensure as a Registered Occupational Therapist, you must obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an ACOTE approved school. Florida currently has eight schools with accredited programs:

  • Adventist University of Health Sciences
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • University of Florida
  • Barry University
  • Florida International University
  • University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Practicum

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must perform at least two months of occupational therapy work under the supervision of a licensed OT prior to licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

You must complete at least six months of supervised occupational therapy work in a clinical setting prior to licensure as a Registered Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Obtain National Certification

Prior to licensure, OT professionals must pass the appropriate national examination offered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT). The fee for the paper version of these exams is $540, while the online version is $500. You may take the exam as many times as you need to pass, but you must wait at least 45 days between attempts.

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must successfully pass the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam to obtain a license in Florida as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

You must take and pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam in order to obtain a license as a Registere Occupational Therapist.

Step 4: Apply for a License

You must complete the following steps to apply for a license as an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • Submit a signed, completed application
  • Request official score reports for NBCOT exams be sent to the Board of Occupational Therapy Practice
  • Request official transcripts from schools for qualifying education
  • Provide a check or money order for $180

It may take several weeks or months to issue a license, depending on the speed the required documentation is obtained by the board.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Credentials

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education units during the two year licensure period in order to qualify for license renewal.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking renewal of your Occupational Therapist license, you must have completed at least 20 hours of continuing education units during the two year licensure period.

New OT professionals may find additional information and resources with the following professional organizations.