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How to Become an Occupational Therapist Illinois

Illinois is home to one of the greatest cities in the country in Chicago and it is also a state with myriad opportunities for Occupational Therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data from the 2010 census, Illinois employs 4,200+ Occupational Therapists. In addition to very large number of Occupational Therapists already licensed, the BLS is currently forecasting that the Occupational Therapy sector will expand about 33% faster than the average for the US economy during the current decade. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also has data showing that Occupational Therapists in Illinois had a 2010 median yearly salary of $73,490.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)is responsible for licensing occupational therapy professionals in the state. There are two levels of licensure in Illinois 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 Illinois, or an Occupational Therapy Assistant you will need to fulfill the following steps:

Illinois Physical Therapy Certification

Occupational Therapy Assistant Requirements:

  • 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 3 months of occupational therapy work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational therapist.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination you must have a score of 450 or above.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 24 Continuing Education contact hours during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

Requirements for Illinois 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 as part of an internship under a licensed Occupational Therapist.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination you must have a score of 450 or above.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 24 Continuing Education contact hours during every two year licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist here.

The exact requirements to obtain a license in Illinois and practice as an occupational therapy professional are detailed below.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Certified School

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

The state and national requirements for Occupational Therapy Assistants stipulate that you must graduate from an ACOTE approved curriculum with at least an Associate’s degree. Illinois has six schools with the required accreditation:

  • Illinois Central College
  • Lincoln Land Community College
  • Lewis and Clark Community College
  • Parkland College
  • Southern Illinois Collegiate Common Market
  • Wright College
  • South Suburban College of Cook County

Registered Occupational Therapist:

You must graduate from an ACOTE accredited school with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in order to satisfy state and national licensing requirements. Illinois has five schools with the requisite certification:

  • Rush University
  • University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Chicago State University
  • Governors State University
  • Midwestern University-Downers Grove

Step 2: Complete Internship or Practicum

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least three months of occupational therapy work under the supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist to qualify for an Occupational Therapy Assistant license.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking a license for Occupational Therapist, you must first complete six months of field work under the tutelage of a licensed Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must take the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and score at least a 70 to receive national certification.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking national certification as an Occupational Therapist, you must first score at least a 70 on the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Step 4: Apply for an Illinois State License

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • Submit a signed, completed application
  • Provide a check or money order for $25
  • Request a verification of certification be sent to the Illinois board from NBCOT
  • Request transcripts from colleges and universities
  • Request verification of licensure from prior jurisdictions

Registered Occupational Therapist:

  • Submit a signed, completed application
  • Provide a check or money order for $25
  • Request a verification of certification be sent to the Illinois board from NBCOT
  • Request transcripts from colleges and universities
  • Request verification of licensure from prior jurisdictions

The board may require several weeks or months to issue a license depending upon the delivery of required documentation.

Step 5: Maintain License

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to maintain your Occupational Therapy Assistant license, you are required to complete 24 continuing education contact hours within the two year period your license is in effect. Failure to do so will prevent license renewal.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

You must complete 24 continuing education contact hours during the two year licensure period in order to qualify for license renewal upon expiration.

New OT professionals may find additional information and resources at the following websites: