An occupational therapist or an OT is a healthcare professional responsible for assisting patients in learning or relearning how to complete everyday tasks or helping them with certain occupations. Working closely with other professionals in their field, such as speech therapists, an occupation therapist's patients might be children with learning or other disabilities, people recovering from serious injuries, and many others. Whether helping them learn how to walk again or how to function in a stressful and busy social environment, an OT diagnoses and treats their patients with the goal of easing their lives.

Summary. We reviewed real candidate profiles to learn the best path to become an occupational therapist. We'll guide you through the education, experiences, and skills hiring managers look for in an occupational therapist.

  • Most companies require a occupational therapist to have a bachelor's degree degree in a related field, such as occupational therapy or psychology.

  • The Occupational Therapy Assistant license requirements vary by state. 37 states require barbers to have licensure for their work.

  • Common job titles before becoming an occupational therapist include senior technician specialist, staff occupational therapist, and internship.

  • Hiring managers expect an occupational therapist to have soft skills such as communication skills, patience, and compassion.

  • Once you have all the required skills and experience, it takes an average of less than 1 month of job training to become an occupational therapist.

  • Getting a certification as a Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) will help you to earn more as an occupational therapist.

How to become an Occupational Therapist in 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Explore occupational therapist education
  • Step 2: Develop occupational therapist skills
  • Step 3: Complete relevent training/internship
  • Step 4: Obtain the necessary licensing
  • Step 5: Research occupational therapist duties
  • Step 6: Prepare your resume
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Key Steps To Become an Occupational Therapist

  1. Explore Occupational Therapist Education

    If you're interested in becoming an occupational therapist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 55.3% of occupational therapists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 37.5% of occupational therapists have master's degrees. Even though most occupational therapists have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

    Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become an occupational therapist. When we researched the most common majors for an occupational therapist, we found that they most commonly have occupational therapy, psychology and health sciences and services.

    Occupational Therapist Degrees


    55.3 %


    37.5 %


    4.9 %

    Occupational Therapist MajorPercentages
    Occupational Therapy74.40%
    Health Sciences And Services3.20%
    Other Degrees12.30%

  2. Develop Occupational Therapist Skills

    It'll be a good idea to develop occupational therapist skills before applying for a job. Here are some skills commonly requested in occupational therapist job descriptions:

    Home Health11.57%
    Patient Care9.42%

  3. Complete Relevent Training/Internship

    Occupational therapists spend an average of Less than 1 month on post-employment, on-the-job training. During this time, new occupational therapists learn the skills and techniques required for their specific job and employer. The chart below shows how much time it takes to gain competency as an occupational therapist based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and data from real occupational therapist resumes.

    Average Amount Of Time At Training


    Less than 1 month

    1-3 months

    3-6 months

    6-12 months

    1-2 years

  4. Obtain The Necessary Licensing

    Becoming an licensed occupational therapist usually require a college degree. However, you need to pass an exam to become a licensed occupational therapist in most of states. 37 states require occupational therapists to have license for their work. You can see the list of states below.

    StateEducationExamLicense Url
    Alabama--Licensed Occupational Therapist Assistant
    AlaskaDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredOccupational Therapy Assistant
    ArkansasSpecific course requiredState exam requiredOccupational Therapist Assistant (OTA)
    CaliforniaDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredOccupational Therapy Assistant
    ColoradoDegree requiredThird-party exam requiredOccupational Therapy Assistant

  5. Research Occupational Therapist Duties

    When you decide to become an occupational therapist, It's important to know what duties and responsibilities are required for this position. Some common responsibilities are a part of most occupational therapist jobs. Here is a list of the main duties that define the role:

    • Achieve advance clinical competency in UE splinting.
    • Manage outpatient occupational therapy rehabilitation program.
    • Provide home assessment and recommend adaptive equipment and/or home modification needs to maximize safety of patients in their own environment.
    • General debility, CVA, joint replacement, upper extremity weakness, ADL 's
    • Founder of TLC program to educate patients, staff and family about CVA.
    • Complete evaluations and IEP's for home school children and perform on-going therapy for the kids.

  6. Prepare Your Resume

    Finally, when you already have checked the skills and responsibilities for this role, you can start creating your resume. Everything that goes into creating a perfect resume can take hours, days, or even weeks. No worries, we created a resume builder to make this process as easy as possible with tips and examples of skills, responsibilities, and a summary.

    Choose From 10+ Customizable Occupational Therapist Resume templates

    Build a professional Occupational Therapist resume in minutes. Browse through our resume examples to identify the best way to word your resume. Then choose from 10+ resume templates to create your Occupational Therapist resume.

    Occupational Therapist Resume
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  7. Apply For an Occupational Therapist Job

    With your ready resume, it's time to start searching for a new job. Consider the tips below for a successful job search:

    1. Browse job boards for relevant postings
    2. Consult your professional network
    3. Reach out to companies you're interested in working for directly
    4. Watch out for job scams

    Occupational Therapist Jobs

  8. How To Become an Occupational Therapist
    How To Become an Occupational Therapist Career Overview

Becoming an Occupational Therapist FAQs

What Degree Do You Need To Be An Occupational Therapist?

You need a master's degree to be an occupational therapist. Students can earn a bachelor's degree in a related field, like biology or physiology, before advancing to a master's program, or they can apply for a combined bachelor's/master's program.

What Is The Career Path For An Occupational Therapist?

The career path for an occupational therapist involves jobs as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), physical therapist, and occupational therapist. The roles other than an occupational therapist include other backgrounds in terms of education and licensure.

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