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Occupational Therapist License in South Dakota

South Dakota is a state that is part of the American Midwest with a fascinating pioneer history. South Dakota is also a great place to start your career as an Occupational Therapist. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, South Dakota had 320 licensed Occupational Therapists employed within the state that year. The BLS also reports that is currently anticipating that the Occupational Therapy profession will continue to grow at a rate 33% higher than the average for the economy for the years 2010 to 2020. The BLS was also able to glean that an Occupational Therapist in South Dakota had a median yearly salary of $63,290 according to the 2010 census.

The South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners is responsible for regulating the occupational therapy profession in this state; they issue licenses in accordance with state law. Occupational Therapy is overseen by the board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners which can sometimes be confusing. There are two levels of licensure in South Dakota 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.

South Dakota also offers an additional Physical Agent Modalities (PAMS) certification for licensed Occupational Therapists with the necessary additional training. You can find out more information about PAMS qualifications here. If you are ready you can apply for your PAMS certification with the form which you can find here.

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

South Dakota Physical Therapy Certificate and License Requirements

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

  • 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 2 months of occupational therapy work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational therapist. 
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Submit proof satisfactory to the Board that you are in good standing with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) or another Board-approved certification program.
  • Pass the National Board of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) COTA examination.
  • To renew a license, you must complete 12 Continuing Competency hours during the licensure period.
  • You can register to apply online to become a 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. 
  • Submit proof satisfactory to the Board that you are in good standing with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) or another Board-approved certification program.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass the NBCOT OTR examination.
  • To renew a license, you must complete 12 Continuing Competency hours during the licensure period.
  • You can register to apply online to become an Occupational Therapist here.

To learn more about how to become an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant in South Dakota, please continue reading.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Accredited Degree Program

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

In order to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in South Dakota, you must have completed an occupational therapy degree program with at least an Associate’s degree. South Dakota has one school with ACOTE accreditation:

  • Lake Area Technical Institute

Registered Occupational Therapist:

To obtain licensure as a Registered Occupational Therapist in South Dakota, you must have graduated from an ACOTE certified school with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. There is one school in South Dakota with the necessary accreditation:

  • University of South Dakota

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Practicum

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

Prior to licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you must complete at least two months of clinical occupational therapy work under the supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

South Dakota requires that you complete at least six months of clinical occupational therapy work under the supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist prior to licensure.

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 in the 70th percentile to become nationally certified, a pre-requisite for state licensure.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

In order to qualify for state licensure as a Registered Occupational Therapist, you must first become nationally certified by taking the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and scoring at least in the 70th percentile.

Step 4: Apply for a South Dakota State License

You must complete the following steps to apply for a South Dakota state license for an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant.

  • Submit a signed and completed application
  • Provide a check or money order for the $50 license fee
  • Request that all schools you have attended forward an official transcript to the licensing board
  • Request that the NBCOT forward a score report or Verification of Certification to the licensing board
  • Request that any prior jurisdictions in which you have practiced forward a Verification of Licensure to the licensing board

It takes approximately 30 days for the licensing board to review the documents and issue a license.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Credentials

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least 12 continuing competency hours during the one year licensure period, to qualify for license renewal.

Registered Occupational Therapist:

If you wish to renew your Occupational Therapy license at the end of the one year licensure period, you must complete 12 continuing competency hours prior to license expiration.

If you need additional information, you may be able to find it at these websites: