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How To Become an Occupational Therapist in Minnesota


Minnesota right along the Canadian border and is known for its stunning natural beauty. Minnesota is also a state that has plenty of opportunity for licensed Occupational Therapists. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics hosts data taken from the 2010 census showing that Minnesota employed approximately 2,250 Occupational Therapists in that year. The BLS is expecting a very substantial increase in demand for the Occupational Therapy sector by projecting a growth rate that is 33% faster than the average for the economy, for the years 2010 to 2020. The BLS searched through the information from the 2010 census to show that Occupational Therapists could expect a median yearly salary of $65,400 per year in 2010.

The Minnesota Department of Health is responsible licensing and renewing licensure of Occupational Therapy professionals. There are two levels of licensure in Minnesota 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.

In addition, Minnesota offers a Physical Agent Modalities (PAMS) certification for licensed Occupational therapists who have received theoretical training and have practiced clinical application. You can read more on PAMS here. 

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

Minnesota Physical Therapy Certification

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 (ACOTE) certified school.
  • Performed at least 2 months of occupational therapy work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational therapist.
  • You must have at least two professional references to present to the board.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 18 Continuing Education contact hours 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 (ACOTE) certified school.
  • 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 two professional references to present to the board.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • To renew your license, you must complete 24 Continuing Education contact hours during the licensure period.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist here.

The exact details of how to become an occupational therapy professional are as follows.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Certified School

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Minnesota, you must first obtain at least an Associate’s degree from an ACOTE approved school. Minnesota has four schools with the necessary accreditation:

  • Herzing University
  • Anoka Technical College
  • St. Catherine University-Minneapolis
  • Northland Community and Technical College-East Grand Forks

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

You must first graduate from an ACOTE accredited school with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in order to obtain a license as an Occupational Therapist in Minnesota. There are four schools with curricula approved for Occupational Therapists:

  • St. Catherine University
  • College of St. Scholastica
  • University of Minnesota-Rochester
  • University of Minnesota-Minneapolis

Step 2: Complete a Practicum or Internship

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

Prior to obtaining licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you must first serve for at least two months in an occupational therapy clinic under the supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist.
Licensed Occupational Therapist:

Minnesota state law requires that you must perform six months of clinical work under the supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist before you may obtain licensure.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to obtain a license as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in the U.S., you must first obtain national certification. You must take the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and score at least 450 to receive national certification.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) also certifies you as an Occupational Therapist if you take the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam and score at least 450.

Step 4: Apply for a Minnesota State License

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • Submit a signed and complete application
  • Provide a check or money order for the licensing fee, which may be $110, $88, or $66 depending on the month of the year
  • Request transcripts from all attended schools be forwarded to the licensing board
  • Request verification of certification from the NBCOT be forwarded to the licensing board
  • Request verification of licensure from past jurisdictions in which you have practiced

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

  • Submit a signed and complete application
  • Provide a check or money order for the licensing fee, which may be $160 or $121 depending on the month of the year
  • Request transcripts from all attended schools be forwarded to the licensing board
  • Request verification of certification from the NBCOT be forwarded to the licensing board
  • Request verification of licensure from past jurisdictions in which you have practiced

Please allow several weeks for the board to review documentation and issue a license.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Credentials

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete 18 continuing education contact hours to qualify for license renewal following your two year OTA licensure period.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

You must complete 24 continuing education contact hours to satisfy licensure renewal requirements for Occupational Therapists.

You may find additional information at the following websites: