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How to Become an Occupational Therapist in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is located along the North East coast of the United States and is home to a beautiful coastline. Rhode Island is also a great state for one to begin a career as an Occupational Therapist. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Rhode Island had 370 licensed Occupational Therapists working in the state according to statistics found in the 2010 census. This is actually a fairly average rate of employment for Occupational Therapists per capita. You may also want to note that the BLS is currently forecasting excellent growth for the Occupational Therapy sector, which it expects to grow at a speed 33% faster than the average for the economy. The BLS also has shown that an Occupational Therapist in Rhode Island during the year 2010 had a median yearly salary of $77,350 which is extremely good for the profession.

The Rhode Island Board of Occupational Therapy is responsible for regulating and licensing occupational therapy professionals in the state. There are two levels of licensure in Rhode Island 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.

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

Rhode Island Physical Therapy License and Certificate Requirements

RI Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA):

  • You must earn an Associate’s degree or higher in Occupational Therapy Assistant program from an American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) certified school.
  • Performed at least 12 weeks 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.
  • To renew a license, you must complete 20 Continuing Education hours during the licensure period.
  • You can find the application to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

RI Occupational Therapist (OT):

  • 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 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.
  • To renew a license, you must complete 20 Continuing Education hours during the licensure period.
  • You can find the application to become an Occupational Therapist here.


If you would like to learn more about how to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Licensed Occupational Therapist in Rhode Island, please read the detailed steps below.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Certified College

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to obtain licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Rhode Island, you must graduate from an ACOTE certified degree program with at least an Associate’s degree. Rhode Island has two schools with the appropriate accreditation:

  • Community College of Rhode Island
  • New England Institute of Technology

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

To practice as a Licensed Occupational Therapist in Rhode Island, you must have graduated from an ACOTE accredited school with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. There is one school in the state with the necessary accreditation:

  • New England Institute of Technology

Step 2: Fulfill the Clinical Work Requirement

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

Prior to licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Rhode Island, you must complete at least 12 weeks of occupation therapy work under the direct supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

To obtain licensure for an Occupational Therapist in Rhode Island, you must first complete at least 24 weeks of supervised occupational therapy work under the tutelage of a Licensed Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Obtain National Certification

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 in the 70th percentile in order to become nationally certified as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

If you wish to obtain a license as an Occupational Therapist in the United States, you must take the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and score at least in the 70th percentile to become nationally certified.

Step 4: Apply for a Rhode Island State License

To apply for a license as an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Occupational Therapist, you must complete the following procedure:

  • Submit a completed, signed application
  • Provide a check or money order for the amount of $140 licensing fee
  • Provide a passport type photo
  • Provide a copy of proof of citizenship or lawful status
  • Request transcripts be forwarded from all OT schools attended
  • Request a score report or verification of Certification from the NBCOT be sent to the licensing board
  • Request Verification of Licensure from prior jurisdictions in which you have practiced

Allow up to four to six weeks for the board to review all materials and issue a license.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Licensure

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least 20 continuing education hours during the two year licensure period to qualify for license renewal as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

To qualify for license renewal, you must complete at least 20 continuing education hours during your two year licensure period.

If you would like to learn more about the OT profession in Rhode Island, please visit the following websites: