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How to Become an Occupational Therapist in Virginia

Virginia is one of the oldest parts of the Union with a settlement that predates the United States by hundreds of years. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has shown that data from the 2010 census states that Virginia had approximately 2,360 licensed Occupational Therapists. The future is also bright for Occupational Therapy as the BLS is projecting that the sector will grow at a rate 33% faster than the average from 2010 to 2020. The BLS also pulled data from the 2010 census showing that an Occupational Therapist in Virginia had a mean yearly salary of $81,730.

The Occupational Therapy Advisory Board is responsible for issuing licenses for occupational therapy professionals in Virginia. There are two levels of licensure in Virginia 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 Virginia, or an Occupational Therapy Assistant you will need to follow these steps:

Virginia Physical Therapy License and Certification Requirements

VA, Occupational Therapy Assistant Requirements:

  • 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 16 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 form to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant here.

VA, Occupational Therapist Requirements:

  • 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 online application form to become an Occupational Therapist here.


If you would like to learn more details about how to become an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant in Virginia, please read the following steps.

Step 1: Graduate from an ACOTE Certified School

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

If you would like to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Virginia, you must graduate from an ACOTE certified degree program with at least an Associate’s degree. There are four schools in Virginia with this certification:

  • Jefferson College of Health Sciences
  • Southwest Virginia Community College
  • Southwest Virginia Community College-Virginia Highlands Community College
  • Tidewater Community College, Virginia Beach

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

To obtain a license as an Occupational Therapist in Virginia, you must possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an ACOTE certified degree program. There are five colleges in Virginia with ACOTE accreditation:

  • James Madison University
  • Jefferson College of Health Sciences
  • Radford University
  • Shenandoah University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Practicum

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

Prior to licensure as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Virginia, you must complete at least 16 weeks of clinical occupational therapy work under the supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

To obtain licensure as an Occupational Therapist, you must first complete at least 24 weeks of clinical occupational therapy work under the supervision of a Licensed Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must first be nationally certified prior to state licensing as an 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.

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 and score at least 450.

Step 4: Apply for a Virginia State License

You must complete the following procedure to become licensed as an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant in Virginia:

  • Submit a signed and completed application
  • Provide a money order or check for the license fee; this is $130 for OTs and $70 for OTAs
  • Request that the NBCOT forward a score report or Verification of Certification to the board
  • Request that each school attended forward an official transcript to the board
  • Request that all states where you have previously practiced forward a Verification of Licensure to the board

Allow up to two months for the board to issue a license.

Step 5: Maintain Professional Licensure

Occupational Therapy Assistant:

You must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education during the two year licensure period to qualify for license renewal.

Licensed Occupational Therapist:

If you would like to renew your OT license at the end of the two year licensure period, you must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education prior to license expiration.

If you would like additional information, please visit the following sites:

Virginia Occupational Therapy Association