Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Download Our Guide to Finding an Entry-Level Therapy Job

Paying attention to—and following—teachers’ directions. Organizing textbooks, notebooks, and other supplies. Engaging peers in class discussions, over lunch in the cafeteria, and on the playground at recess. These activities and more of daily living, or “occupations,” come naturally to some students. Others need help.

In school-based Occupational Therapy jobs, you’ll be giving it!

How a School-Based Occupational Therapist (OT) Helps Students

In the educational setting, a licensed Occupational Therapist helps students develop and strengthen skills needed to access the curriculum and succeed academically and socially in school, including:

Female school-based Occupational Therapist (OT) sits beside young school boy in classroom practicing his pencil grip.

  • Fine Motor Skills
    Fine motor skills involve making movements with the small muscles of the hands and wrists—using a pencil, cutting with scissors, and so on.
  • Visual-Perceptual Skills
    These are the skills the brain uses to make sense of what the eyes see: spatial relations, sequential memory, differentiating between objects, and more.
    Learning numbers and letters, playing with blocks, and picking out the color crayon you want, are a few common school occupations demanding visual-perceptual skills.
  • Cognitive Skills
    Cognitive skills are thinking skills. They let students attend to teachers’ instructions, remember information, solve problems, make decisions, and remain aware of their safety.
  • Sensory Processing Skills
    These skills allow the brain to integrate and respond to input from the sensory systems.

An Overview of Occupational Therapy Programs’ Requirements

To become a licensed Occupational Therapist, you must earn an entry-level Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy (MOT). Doing so usually takes two to three years of full-time study in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE©).

Your coursework will include, among other areas:

  • Theoretical and practical foundations
  • Screening, evaluation, and research techniques
  • Therapy interventions
  • Clinical neuroscience
  • Orthotics, prosthetics, and biomechanical applications
  • Community-centered OT
  • Professional development

You will also complete a scholarly project, and must successfully complete a minimum of 24 weeks’ mentored, hands-on fieldwork.

All states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam require those who take Occupational Therapy jobs to be licensed. State license requirements include an MOT degree but additional requirements vary. Check the regulations in the place where you intend to practice.

Passing the National Certification Exam for Occupational Therapists

Once you earn your degree, you’ll need to pass the NBCOT® Certification Examination. NBCOT is the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, and it administers a similar, separate exam for Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs).

The test measures your entry-level competence in these four domains:

  • Evaluation and Assessment (25% of the exam)
  • Analysis and Interpretation (23%)
  • Intervention Management (37%)
  • Competency and Practice Management (15%)

Candidates take the test in electronic format at a Prometric Test Center. The OT exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions and three clinical simulation test (CST) items.

The CST items present a brief scenario you might face as an OT, followed by lists of possible actions. You must correctly mark each option as appropriate or inappropriate. You must also explain why you mark as appropriate the responses you do.

A passing score on the NBCOT exam is 450 points. In 2019, the national pass rate was 73%.

Find Your Perfect Occupational Therapy Position with PTS

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Occupational Therapy jobs should grow 16% through 2029—four times faster than all occupations’ average.

At Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) we know you’re entering a vitally important field at a moment where your training and skills have never been needed more.

Below, you can browse our currently available Occupational Therapy jobs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

We’ll help you find a perfect placement where you can help students access and achieve more in their education than they could without you!

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