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How to Become an Occupational Therapist in Hawaii

Hawaii is a state of incredible natural beauty and majestic beaches it is also a state with amazing opportunities for Occupational Therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, information from the 2010 census show that Hawaii employed over 400 Occupational Therapists. The good news is that Occupational Therapy as a sector is predicted to grow about 33% faster than the average for the US economy during the period 2010 to 2020 according to the BLS. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also compiled data on salaries for Occupational Therapists in Hawaii which shows that in 2010 the median salary was $70,700 per year.

The Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing Division is responsible for issuing licenses to occupational therapy professionals. There is only one level of licensure in Hawaii the Registered Occupational Therapist. While you are waiting to sit for your examination you can apply for a temporary license to practice.
If you want to become a Registered Occupational Therapist in Hawaii you will need to fulfill the following steps to become registered:

Hawaii 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 24 weeks of occupational therapy work experience as part of an internship under a licensed Occupational Therapist.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • There is no continuing education or continuing competency requirement in Hawaii.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist here.

To understand the licensing process for Occupational Therapists in Hawaii, the following details the exact steps.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Certified School

Occupational therapists must graduate from a college or university that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). You must graduate with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in order to qualify for national certification exams and licensure in Hawaii. At the moment, there are no colleges in the state of Hawaii that offer baccalaureate or advanced degrees in occupational therapy, so you will need to attend an ACOTE certified school in another state prior to practicing in Hawaii. There is one ACOTE accredited school which does offer a two year degree for prospective Occupational Therapy Assistants:
Kapiolani Community College

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Practicum

If you wish to practice as an occupational therapist in Hawaii, you must complete a period of service under the tutelage of a licensed Occupational Therapist. These internships or periods of paid employment must be within a clinical setting and last at least 24 weeks. Usually completed in conjunction with occupational therapy education, there may be licensed occupational therapists who can provide you with training opportunities independently. Documentation attesting to the supervised occupational therapy work must be provided to the state licensing body prior to licensure.

Step 3: Take the National Certification Examination

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is the national certifying body for the occupational therapy profession. The NBCOT offers the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam to prospective Occupational Therapists. In order to obtain national certification, you must score at least a 70 on the 100 point exam.

The OTR exam is available in paper or online form. The fee for the paper version is $540, while the fee for the online version is $500. You may take the exam as many times as necessary to pass, but you must wait at least 45 days between sittings. Each score report costs $40, while the confirmation of exam registration notices are $45 each.

Step 4: Apply for a State License

You must perform the following steps to obtain a license as a Registered Occupational Therapist in Hawaii:

  • Submit a completed, signed application
  • Provide a check or money order for the application fee; the fee is $85 in odd numbered years and $68 in even numbered years
  • Provide a Verification of Certification from the NBCOT
  • Submit transcripts from schools where occupational therapy classes were taken

It may take several weeks or months for the board to issue a license.

Step 5: Maintain License

Although there is no continuing education requirement to maintain your license, you must submit the $85 license renewal fee along with a completed and signed license renewal application by December 31 on each even numbered year.

If you are new to the state or to the OT profession, you may be able to request more information or assistance from the following organizations: