How to become an occupational therapist in California

Today, how to become an occupational therapist in California will be thoroughly looked at.

California has the greatest population of any state in the union, therefore Occupational Therapists are in high demand. According to the 2010 census, California had over 9,250 occupational therapists.

In addition to the enormous number of Occupational Therapists now working, the BLS predicts that the industry will increase at a rate of nearly 33% faster than the US GDP over the next ten years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Therapists in California earned an average annual salary of $86,380 in 2010.

The California Board of Occupational Therapy is the state’s licensing body for OT professionals. You can apply for a temporary license to practice at either level while you wait to take your exam. There is also an additional Advanced Practice level of licensure that allows you to use more modalities.

There is no additional cost or skill set required. Firstly, let’s look at the meaning of occupational therapy.

Who is an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists (OTs) are healthcare professionals who specialize in occupational science and treatment. Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) employ scientific evidence and a holistic approach to improve a person’s capacity to perform daily tasks and activities.

Also, Occupational therapists have extensive training in the physical, psychological, and social aspects of human functioning, which stems from anatomical and physiological principles as well as psychological perspectives.

They empower people throughout their lives by enhancing their skills to engage in activities that are meaningful to them (“occupations”).

Daily activities, work/vocation, play, education, leisure, rest and sleep, and social interaction are all examples of human occupations. Pediatrics, orthopedics, neurology, low vision therapy, physical rehabilitation, mental health, assistive technology, oncological rehabilitation, and other professions use occupational therapists.

Many occupational therapists are self-employed and run their own businesses. OTs are also employed as commissioned officers in the Army, Navy, and Air Force branches of the military in the United States. OTs are part of the Army Medical Specialist Corps in the United States Army. OTs are also members of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which is one of the country’s eight uniformed services.

Through compensatory/adaptive strategies, occupational therapy interventions aim to restore/improve functional abilities and/or alleviate/eliminate restrictions or disabilities. In order to help the individual optimize their function and fulfill their occupational tasks, OTs examine and address both the individual’s capacities and or her surroundings (physical and psychosocial).

Requirement for being an occupational therapist

If you want to work as an Occupational Therapist or an Occupational Therapy Assistant in California, you must first complete the following steps:

  • You must have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from a school that is accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTE).
  • Worked as an occupational therapist for at least 24 weeks.
  • Take the NBCOT OTR exam and pass it.
  • You must complete 12 Professional Development Units every 12 months to renew your license, for a total of 24 Professional Development Units every two years.
  • occupational therapy field experience, either as part of a school-developed practicum or as paid job experience.

Steps to becoming an Occupational Therapist.

Step 1: Get your Occupational Therapy degree.

To become a Registered Occupational Therapist in California, you must have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in an occupational therapy-related subject from an NBCOT-recognized university. In California, seven universities offer NBCOT-approved occupational therapy programs:

  • Loma Linda University is a private university located in the city of Loma Linda, California.
  • The Dominican University of California-Dominquez Hills is a public university in the Dominican Republic.
  • University of Samuel Merritt
  • San Jose State University is a public university located in the city of San Jose, California.
  • Los Angeles is the home of Southern California University.
  • Dominican University of California
  • University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences-San Diego

Step 2: Participate in an internship.

To receive a license, all OT

Practitioners must intern in a clinical environment under the supervision of a certified Occupational Therapist.

Step 3: Pass the National Certification Exam

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy administers exams to prospective Occupational Therapy Assistants and Registered Occupational Therapists to assess their knowledge. You may retake this exam as many times as you need to pass it, but you must wait 45 days between exams.

Step 4: Obtaining a California State Driver’s License

The process is the same whether you want to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant or a Registered Occupational Therapist.

Submit an application to the Board of Occupational Therapy, which must be signed and completed.

Submit an NBCOT Verification of Certification.

Send all transcripts of qualifying education to the Board of Occupational Therapy. Request letters of good standing from previous states where you have practiced.

For a background check, send in your photo and fingerprints.

The initial license charge will be communicated to you, as fee amounts are subject to change every month.

Allow three weeks for your application to be reviewed by the board.

Step 5: Obtain Continuing Education Credits

Occupational therapists in California are required to participate in continuing education to augment and maintain their expertise. This, along with the payment of license renewal fees, is a condition of retaining your license.

To keep your Registered Occupational Therapist license, you must complete 24 professional development units over your two-year licensure tenure.

Salary of an Occupational Therapist

In 2022, the minimum wage in California will be $15.00 per hour. In California, workers are paid a greater minimum pay than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

With a few exceptions, such as certain tipped employees, students or part-time workers, and other exempt occupations, the California minimum wage applies to the vast majority of employees. The District of Columbia, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and New York are the top five minimum wage states in the United States.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has been unchanged since 2009. The demand for a living wage that is equitable to workers is on the rise. Numerous states, towns, and other localities have already implemented or will enact minimum wage levels in response to this rising demand. In the few states where there is no set minimum wage, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour will remain in effect.

Many states have previously passed minimum wage increases or approved increases that will be implemented at a later date, based on local law.

Because of the ever-changing laws, effective dates, and techniques, minimum wages might alter at any time or vary significantly within a state or region. When these pre-determined parameters change, minimum wage modifications can be triggered for a place, necessitating rigorous monitoring to maintain compliance with the most recent wage levels.

Conclusion on How to become an occupational therapist in California

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities, home health agencies, and outpatient rehabilitation centers. Occupational therapists are also used by school districts and corporations as consultants to address employee safety and productivity issues.

They frequently prescribe adapted equipment and assistive technology products, as well as instructions on how to use them, in order to help alleviate limits and improve safety.

As an occupational therapist, you will assist people who have difficulty performing daily activities due to a disability, illness, trauma, aging, or a variety of long-term conditions. Occupational therapy allows you to make a difference in the lives of people all over the community, which is very appealing in this career path.

Academic credentials aren’t everything. You must be a natural ‘people person,’ able to quickly put anyone at ease. It is also necessary to be creative and to be able to balance patience and enthusiasm. You must enjoy working in groups and be able to think quickly on your feet.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to become an occupational therapist in California

See below for the best answers about How to become an occupational therapist in California;

  1. Can one work as an occupational therapist without a college degree?

Generally, an accredited degree in Occupational Therapy is required for this profession. Entry without a degree is possible at the assistant, technician, or support worker level, with the possibility of progressing to become a fully qualified Occupational Therapist after additional study and experience.

  1. In California, how much do entry-level occupational therapists make?

$59,559 a year

The average annual salary for an Entry Level Occupational Therapist in Copart-time is $59,559. In case you need a quick salary calculator, that works out to about $28.63 per hour. This equates to $1,145 per week or $4,963 per month.

  1. How long does it take to obtain a California occupational therapy license?

The California Board of Occupational Therapy issues OT licenses, which typically take three to four weeks to process.

Once you have your license, you can apply for jobs in the state with the highest annual mean salary for occupational therapists.

  1. How long does it take to train as an occupational therapist?

A degree in occupational therapy is required to become an occupational therapist, which typically takes three years full-time or up to six years part-time. A Master’s degree can be obtained in one to two years of postgraduate studies.


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