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Requirements to Become an Occupational Therapist in Kentucky


Kentucky has a long and storied history and is home to unique cultural phenomena such as Bluegrass music. Kentucky also has many wonderful opportunities for its Occupational Therapists. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has gleaned data from the 2010 census that demonstrates that Kentucky employs approximately 1,500 Occupational Therapists. A number of economic indicators as well as data from the Occupational Therapy sector allow the BLS to project strong growth in the sector of 33% faster than the average the period 2010 to 2020. The BLS collected information from the 2010 census that showed an Occupational Therapist in Kentucky can expect a median yearly salary of $79,320.

The Board of Licensure for Occupational Therapy is Kentucky’s licensing body for occupational therapy professionals. There are two levels of licensure in Kentucky 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.

There is also a specialized Deep Physical Agent Modalities (DPAM) specialization licensure for licensed Occupational Therapists. You can find out more information about DPAM as well as the application for this specialization here.

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.
  • You must provide a letter of supervision consent from a currently licensed Occupational Therapist you will be working under if you have not completed the NBCOT test and wish to have a temporary license. You can find the form here.
  • Performed at least 2 months of occupational therapy work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational therapist.
  • You must have at least one professional reference to present to the board.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination on which you must score a minimum score of 450.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 12 Continuing Education contact hours per year during the licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

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.
  • You must provide a letter of supervision consent from a currently licensed Occupational Therapist you will be working under if you have not completed the NBCOT test and wish to have a temporary license. You can find the form here.
  • Performed at least 6 months of occupational therapy work experience as part of an internship under a licensed Occupational Therapist.
  • You must have at least one professional reference to present to the board.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination on which you must score a minimum score of 450.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 12 Continuing Education contact hours per year during the licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist here.

For further details regarding the licensure process in Kentucky, please read the following.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Accredited College

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to serve as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Kentucky, you must graduate from an ACOTE certified school with at least an Associate’s degree in an occupational therapy related field. Kentucky has five schools with ACOTE accreditation:

  • Brown Mackie College-Louisville
  • Brown Mackie College-Northern Kentucky
  • Brown Mackie College-Hopkinsville
  • Madisonville Community College
  • Jefferson Community and Technical College

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you wish to practice as a Registered Occupational Therapist in Kentucky, you must first graduate from an ACOTE certified college or university with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in an occupational therapy related field. There are two schools in Kentucky with ACOTE certification:

  • Spalding University
  • Eastern Kentucky University

Step 2: Complete Supervised Clinical Work Requirements

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least two months of occupational therapy in a clinical setting and under the direct supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist in order to qualify for a license as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

Prior to licensure as a Registered Occupational Therapist in Kentucky, you must serve in a clinical setting for six months and perform occupational therapy work under the supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

If you wish to serve as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in the U.S., you must first take the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam which is offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and score at least in the 70th percentile.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

You must take the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam which is offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and score at least in the 70th percentile to practice as a Registered Occupational Therapist in the U.S.

Step 4: Apply for a Kentucky State License

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • Submit a signed, completed application
  • Provide a check or money order for $35 made payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer
  • Order NBCOT scores be sent to the Board of Licensure for Occupational Therapy
  • Order transcripts from all attended colleges and universities

Registered Occupational Therapist:

Allow several weeks or months for the board to review documents and issue a license.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Licensure

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

During the two year licensure period for Occupational Therapy Assistants, you must complete 12 continuing education contact hours in order to qualify for license renewal.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

In order to qualify for license renewal for an Occupational Therapist, you must complete 12 continuing education units during the two year licensure period.

If you have further questions, you may wish to contact the following organizations: