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How to Become an Occupational Therapist in New York

New York is one of the most famous states in the Union with Manhattan as one of the epicenters of culture and finance in the country. New York also has exceptional opportunities for licensed Occupational therapists with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics having data from the 2010 census demonstrating that New York as having had roughly 7,650 licensed Occupational Therapists in 2010, the highest in the nation. The BLS is also projecting that the sector will expand at a rate that is 33% faster than the average sector for the years 2010 to 2020. The BLS also has compiled data from the 2010 census showing that in 2010 an Occupational Therapist in New York had a median yearly salary of $74,450.

The New York State Office of the Professions licenses and regulates occupational therapy professionals in the state. There are two levels of licensure in New York 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. Temporary licenses require that you work under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist who has a minimum of one year of licensure with the state.

New York allows licensed occupational therapists to use Physical Agent Modalities (PAMS), without a special certificate if used as an aspect of practice. For those who wish to use them as a stand-alone treatment you will need special certification and training. You can read more on the use of PAMS in New York here.

If you want to become an Occupational Therapist in New York, or an Occupational Therapy Assistant you will need to follow these steps:

New York Physical Therapy Certification

NY Occupational Therapy Assistant Requirements:

  • You must be 18 years of age.
  • You must earn an Associate’s degree or higher in Occupational Therapy Assistant program 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.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination.
  • You must complete 36 Continuing Competency contact hours for each three year renewal period for licensure.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

NY Occupational Therapist Requirements:

  • You must be 21 years of age.
  • 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.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • You must complete 36 Continuing Competency contact hours for each three year renewal period for licensure.
  • You can find the application form for the Occupational Therapist.

To learn more about how to become a licensed occupational therapy professional in New York, please read the following.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Accredited School

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to obtain New York licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you must first graduate from an ACOTE accredited school with at least an Associate’s degree in an occupational therapy related field. There are 11 schools in New York with the requisite certification:

  • Erie Community College
  • Genesee Community College
  • Jamestown Community College
  • LaGuardia Community College
  • Maria College
  • Mercy College
  • Orange County Community College
  • Rockland Community College
  • Suffolk County Community College
  • State University of New York College of Technology-Canton
  • Touro College

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

If you are seeking a license as an Occupational Therapist in New York, you must possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an ACOTE accredited school. There are 17 schools in New York with the necessary certification:

  • Columbia University
  • D’Youville College
  • Dominican College
  • Ithaca College
  • Keuka College
  • Long Island University, Brooklyn
  • Mercy College
  • New York Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • The Sage Colleges
  • Stony Brook University
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Touro College-Bay Shore
  • Touro College-Manhattan
  • Utica College
  • University of Buffalo, State University of New York
  • York College/City University of New York

Step 2: Complete a Practicum or Internship

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least two months of clinical occupational therapy work under the supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist in order to qualify for a license as an OTA.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

You must serve under the supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist for at least six months in order to qualify for a license as an Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to become nationally certified, 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.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

To become nationally certified as an Occupational Therapist, you must take the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and score at least 450.

Step 4: Apply for a New York State License

Complete the following procedure to obtain a New York state license.

  • Submit a signed and completed application
  • Provide a check or money order for the licensing fee; this is $294 for OT applicants and $147 for OTA applicants
  • Provide transcripts from all attended colleges
  • Request the NBCOT forward a verification of certification or exam score reports to the board
  • Request Verification of Licensure from prior states in which you have practiced

Please allow several weeks or months for the board to issue the license.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Licensure

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least 36 continuing competency contact hours during the three year licensure period, in order to qualify for OTA license renewal.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

During the three year licensure period as an Occupational Therapist, you must complete at least 36 continuing competency contact hours to qualify for license renewal.

You may find additional information and resources at the following websites: