30+ OT Certifications and Specialties

Have you been wondering if you should pursue advanced certification following your OT degree? This post breaks down which certifications are available to OT and gives you an estimate of their cost and the amount of time it would take to complete them.

Your OT degree does not have to be your last stop on the education train. In fact, for many OTs, getting licensed is simply the first stop on a very specialized career track. 

There are TONS of additional certifications out there, which allow you to hone your skills and master new techniques so you can better treat a wider variety of clients.

I wrote this article to shed light on the most popular OT certifications out there, not only so you could learn more about the ways you can help patients—but also to give you some new career ideas in the process! 

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to try a free OT CEU from us, click here.

For each certification, I provide a ballpark figure of the amount of training and cost involved. (Please note that the figures are estimates.) Regarding time for completion, I did not factor in the time needed to prepare for (nor take) the certification exam, as that would vary depending on the individual. If you want additional information, I provide links for you to learn more about each certification.

Before we dive in, here’s a handy list so you can jump right to the one(s) that interest you the most. Otherwise, you can simply browse through the whole list at your leisure 🙂

Links are not endorsements of certain programs. Please do your research if you decide to pursue a particular topic. The certifications’ requirements actually change somewhat frequently, so this is intended to give you a ballpark figure of what each certification entails. 

Author note: If you are an OTA, please check out my post Your Guide to COTA Certification and Specialities!

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Assistive Technology Professional (ATP)

Thank goodness for the assistive technology professionals (ATPs) with whom I’ve consulted over the years. As an average OT, you will quickly discover that the world of assistive technology can be hard to keep up with when you are managing a busy caseload.

An ATP certification can open the door to specializing in: job accommodations, computer accessibility, vehicle modifications, architectural and home modifications, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental controls, positioning devices, seating and mobility, sensory aids, and learning accommodations.

ATPs in North America are certified by RESNA. Certification requires:

  • Time: 1000 hours of work experience
  • Cost: The application fee for the certification exam is $500
  • Renewal: Every two years, $150 and documentation of related work experience and continuing education

For more information, visit RESNA’s ATP info page

 

Seating and Mobility Specialist (ATP/SMS)

A seating and mobility specialist (SMS) is a specialized ATP. I have worked with SMSs in wheelchair-related matters, and have relied heavily on their expertise in assessment, funding options, and follow-ups. 

  • Prerequisite: ATP certification
  • Time: 1000+ hours in seating and mobility-related service
  • Cost: The application fee for the certification exam is $250

For more information, visit RESNA’s SMS info page

 

Aquatic Therapeutic Exercise Certification (ATRIC)

I was always jealous when our PTA headed off to the pool for aquatic sessions. It seemed like such a cool niche that OTs could also explore—so why not dive into the benefits of aquatic therapy with a certification of your own? 

  • Prerequisite: 15 hours of aquatic therapy, rehab and/or aquatic therapeutic exercise education
  • Time: Time to take the exam, as well as the 15 hours of prerequisites, if you don’t have them
  • Cost: There is a package for $675, Exam (onsite or online) $255
  • Renewal: $49 (per renewal year)

For more information, visit the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute website. 

 

Basic DIRFloortime Certification

As a refresher, DIR stands for The Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based Model. Floortime is Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s framework for understanding play. This certification prepares clinicians to develop a DIRFloortime intervention program tailored to the unique challenges and strengths of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental challenges. 

Following the basic training, there are additional tiers of certification. You can read about those here

  • Time: 40 hours for two courses
  • Cost: $868 (for certificate and two courses)

For more information, visit the DIRFloortime info page

 

Neuro-Developmental Treatment Certification (C/NDT)

NDT is a hands-on approach based on movement analysis, and is most commonly utilized with adults who have sustained strokes or other brain injuries. NDT is also effective on children with cerebral palsy and other neuromotor disorders.

  • Prerequisite: Must be a member of the NDTA (Cost: $105/year)
  • Time: Completion of a certification course, which can be completed in two weeks (or over a series of weekends).
  • Cost: Courses range from $2,500-3,000

For more information, visit the NDT certification info page

 

Certified Autism Specialist (CAS)

If you regularly work with clients who fall on the autism spectrum, this certification is one way to demonstrate that you have continued education in the area of autism, and have achieved competency standards.

  • Prerequisite: Two years working as an OT (or 10 years, if you don’t have a master’s degree or higher)
  • Time: 14 CEU hours related to autism
  • Cost: Registration fee for the exam is $495
  • Renewal: $199, every two years

For more information, visit the CAS information page

 

Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)

If you’re like me, you’ve probably recommended a home modification without a full understanding of what its implementation would entail.

The CAPS certification signifies training in design, marketing, and business management—all of it being related to helping seniors age in place. The certification entails:

  • Time: Three day-long courses (Cost: $330)
  • Cost: $218 graduation fee
  • Renewal: $83 annual renewal fee and 12 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain certification

For more information, visit the CAPS information page

 

Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS)

If you regularly work with patients with brain injuries, joining The Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists might be a worthwhile endeavor. A nice added perk for all new (paid) applicants includes a one-year subscription to the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation—a $130 value! 

  • Time: 500 hours of direct contact experience with individuals with brain injury—and completion of training or self-study.
  • Cost: Application for the certification exam is $300
  • Renewal: $60 annually

For more information, visit the CBIS certification info page

 
 

Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

This certification will be most beneficial to practicing OTs who work in primary care or community health, as a CDE specializes in pre-diabetes and diabetes prevention and management. There are also a few roles in the acute care setting where this certification is very helpful for landing a non-clinical OT role as a diabetes educator.

  • Prerequisite: Two years of OT practice
  • Time: Minimum of 1000 hours of DSME experience with a minimum of 40% of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application—AND a minimum of 15 hours of CE activities applicable to diabetes within the last two years.
  • Cost: $350 for application fee. Cost of continuing education not calculated due to variability.
  • Renewal: Every five years, 75 hours of continuing ed. Cost is $250

For more information, visit the CDE certification info page

 

Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist (CEAS®)

If you’re considering a career in ergonomics, you might want to pursue the CEAS. It’s one of the more recognizable ergonomic certifications, and you can opt to stop at level i or work all the way through level iii. Many practitioners stop at level i, which certifies the ability to perform basic ergonomics analyses on multiple task jobs in office, industrial, and healthcare environments. You’ll learn to use the OSHA ergonomics assessment tools: W-1, D-2, and WAC.

  • Time: Live two-day workshop or online (self-paced) formats. The online format has a 90-day window.
  • Cost: $475 for level i. 

For more information, visit the CEAS certification info page.

 

Certified Hand Therapist (CHT)

The OTs I know who hold this specialty identified that they wanted to pursue hand therapy early in their careers. Due to the amount of hours required, this is not a certification that you stumble into. You can practice hand therapy on a basic level with your OT degree, but a CHT certification will set you apart in terms of obtaining referrals. Basic requirements include: 

For more information, visit the Hand Therapy Certification Commission’s info page for CHT.

 

Certified Industrial Ergonomic Evaluator (CIEE)

This certification is a lesser-known alternative to CEAS. However, if you’re specifically interested in industrial, warehouse, and manufacturing ergonomics, you might want to opt for this cert instead. It is a great springboard to landing work in industrial rehabilitation and work hardening.

  • Time: Three-day course (either in-person or online)
  • Cost: $900 for course, $250 for application
  • Renewal: Every four years, $250

For more information, visit the CIEE certification info page

 

Certified Industrial Rehabilitation Specialist (CIRS) 

The CIRS is similar to the prior certification (CIEE), but focused more on the rehabilitative side of things. This cert is a great pick if you’re looking to implement or enhance a full industrial rehab or return-to-work rehabilitation program!

  • Time: Three-day course (either in-person or online)
  • Cost: $975 for course and $350 processing fee
  • Renewal: Every four years, $350

For more information, visit the CIRS certification info page

 

Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (CKTP)

If you love that colorful tape, a CKTP certification is a great way to incorporate Kinesio Taping into your practice with full confidence. Through the certification process, you can specialize in: Neurological Concepts, Sports Orthopedic Concepts, Myofascial Massage Concepts, Lymphatic Concepts, Pediatric Concepts and Hand Therapy Concepts. This certification is also available to OTAs! 

  • Time: Four eight-hour courses
  • Cost: $1,049
  • Renewal: Annual membership in Kinesio Taping Association International is required ($49/year)

For more information, visit the CKTP info page

 

Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP)

The course teaches the skills to help make homes accessible, comfortable, and safe for everyone—regardless of ability. CLIPP-certified professionals perform comprehensive home assessments, enabling them to identify and offer solutions for home accessibility and safety. 

  • Prerequisites: There are some requirements for those pursuing CLIPP, including five years of prior work experience, liability insurance, etc. 
  • Time: Two-day course followed by an examination
  • Cost: $999 (there may be scholarship funds or savings for members of trade associations; also a $50 early-bird registration discount)
  • Renewal: $85 per year

For more information, visit the CLIPP info page

 

Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) 

In the SNF setting, I practiced basic lymphedema management under the close supervision of a CLT. However, the opportunity to serve more clients by expanding my expertise was apparent. There are many CEUs out there about lymphedema management, but to become a full-fledged CLT, it will involve: 

  • Time: 135 hours of instruction
  • Cost: $3,000
  • Recertification: There’s a pretty involved, two-part recertification process, details of which are on the info page linked below.

For more information, visit the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy’s info page

 

Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT)

The CLVT uses functional vision evaluation instruments to assess vision impairment and address disability. CVLTs will look at visual acuity, visual fields, contrast sensitivity function, color vision, stereopsis, visual perceptual and visual motor functioning, literacy skills in reading and writing, etc. 

  • Prerequisites: Verification from CLVT supervisor that the applicant demonstrates basic competency in all core domain areas
  • Time: 350 hours of discipline-specific, supervised practice
  • Cost: Eligibility, exam, and certifications fees amount to $680

For more information, visit the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals’ CLVT info page

 

Certified Neuro Specialist (CNS)

Created by OT, PTs, and assistants, the CNS Certification Course is an in-person advanced-level continuing education course that introduces evidence-based interventions for the stroke and brain injury population. This course is intended to educate and equip healthcare practitioners with the certifiable knowledge and skills to provide effective interventions based on current, high-level evidence.

  • Time: 36-hour, see website for course dates
  • Cost: $895
  • Exam: Participants must complete an in-person certification exam and receive a passing score of 80% in order to obtain the certification credentials of “CNS.”\
  • Recertification: After the initial four year certification period, a renewal application and application fee ($65.00) is required to maintain certification status every four years. Individuals must provide documentation of continuing education (CE) requirements (24 hours total):
 

Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP)

The CPRP credential is for professionals who work in adult psychiatric settings and wish to stay up-to-date on best practices for serving adults with severe and persistent mental illness. The test provides credentialing, and also demonstrates competency in best practices. 

  • Prerequisite: Work experience must be in a psychiatric rehabilitation/recovery-oriented environment, and must have involved serving adults and transition-age youth (ages 16+ years) with serious and persistent mental illness
  • Time: 45 training hours that relate to the seven practice domains of psychiatric rehabilitation
  • Cost: Exam fees amount to $495
  • Renewal: Every three years, 45 contact hours, $245

For more information, visit the CPRP info page

 

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS)

If you’ve always wanted to become a driver rehabilitation specialist—or you’re already working in driver rehab, but want a few extra letters to validate your skills—take the wheel and apply for certification through the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists

  • Time: 1,664 hours of experience providing direct driver rehabilitation services
  • Cost: Examination fee is $550

For more information, visit the CDRS info page

 

Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS)

This is a great option for those of you working in inpatient rehab or acute care settings. If you’re looking to invest in some continuing education that directly relates to one of your primary patient populations, why not get a certification while you’re at it?

  • Time: Four eight-hour seminars (Cost: $800)
  • Cost: The application fee for the online certification exam is $175

For more information, visit the American Stroke Association’s CSRS info page

 

Certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPSC)

It takes the right setup to provide hippotherapy, but for occupational therapists who have experience with horses—and access to the necessary facilities—this is a great opportunity.

  • Prerequisites: At least three years of full-time—or the equivalent (6,000 hours)—experience as an OT AND two years of experience riding horses
  • Time: A minimum of 100 hours of one-on-one direct treatment in hippotherapy practice within the three years prior to certification application deadline
  • Cost: The cost for applying for the certification is $375
  • Renewal: Every five years

For more information, visit the Hippotherapy Certification Board’s info page

 

Lee Silverman Voice Treatment- BIG (LSVT BIG)

Don’t be thrown off by the name. LVST treatment is for people with Parkinson’s disease. While the program began with a focus on voice treatment, it now includes a BIG certification that focuses on utilizing “bigness” of motions to improve overall movement quality. This certification can be completed completely online! 

  • Time: Online workshop, approximately two days 8am-5pm
  • Cost: $580 for the workshop

For more information, visit LSVT Global’s certification info page

 

Physical Agent Modalities (PAM) Certification

Many states do not consider PAM application to be an entry-level skill, so it in important to look-up whether PAMs are covered within your license or if you need an additional certification. The AOTA does have a handy list of the PAM regulations in each state that you can access if you are an AOTA member. Otherwise you will have to dig around on your state’s licensing website.

As for my experience, when I first started working, my COTA was certified in PAM and I was not. As the requirements vary from state to state, the ongoing training hours and costs will vary as well. Here is one example of a course: 

  • Time: Two-day course
  • Cost: $600

For more information, visit PAMPCA’s PAM information page

 

SAEBO Certified Therapist

This certification indicates that you understand the principles of Saebo’s Functional Dynamic Orthoses and the Saebo Arm Training Program. The course also covers current research for common treatment strategies for the upper hemiparetic limb.

  • Time: Eight hours (self-study available) (includes post-course exam for certification)
  • Cost: $195 for the course

For more information, visit the SAEBO courses overview info page

 

Sensory Integration and the Sensory Integration Praxis Test (SIPT)

The once popular  USC/WPS SIPT certification has actually been phased out. At one time it was one of the most intensive certifications available to OTs.

The landscape of sensory integration is in a shift right now, with new certifications being offered. Those interested in sensory integration can check out the following options: 


AOTA-sponsored certifications 

AOTA Board Certifications are offered in the areas of…

  • Gerontology (BCG)
  • Mental Health (BCMH)
  • Pediatrics (BCP)
  • Physical Rehabilitation (BCPR)

Board certification in these practice areas is awarded through the AOTA. Here’s a nice article on the “Why & How” of board and specialty certifications. 

Requirements include: 

  • Five years of experience as an OT
  • 5,000 hours in any capacity in the certification area in the past five years
  • 500 hours of delivering OT services as a OT in the certification area in the past five years
  • An extensive application, including a reflective portfolio, that will be peer-reviewed (Cost: $525)
  • Renewal after five years

For more information about AOTA’s board certifications, visit their info page

AOTA Speciality Certifications are offered in the areas of… 

  • Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM)
  • Environmental Modification (SCEM)
  • Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing (SCFES)
  • Low Vision (SCLV)
  • School Systems (SCSS)

Specialty certifications are less intensive than board certifications. Note that many of the requirements in the application are already met by obtaining your license and NBCOT credentials. Requirements include: 

  • 2,000 hours in any capacity the certification area in the past five years
  • 600 hours of delivering OT services as an OT in the certification area in the past five years
  • An extensive application, including a reflective portfolio, which will be peer-reviewed (Cost: $375)
  • Renewal after five years

For more information about AOTA’s specialty certifications, visit their info page


Obtaining your post-professional OTD

Recently obtained your MOT, but want to get the OTD? Many distance-learning programs now offer the option of getting your post-professional OTD online. 

There are some juicy conversations on Reddit and other places about the merit of the OTD vs. a PhD vs. sticking with an MOT. The short version seems to be if you are interested in clinical leadership or education, the OTD is the way to go. If you wish to focus on research, a PhD could be beneficial.

You need to be aware that obtaining an OTD will not automatically translate to a higher salary or new job opportunities. 

Below is one example of a program. I would love to know the full range of costs between the different universities. 


Related degrees 

I would be remiss not to mention that many occupational therapists pursue second degrees that complement their work as OTs. When I first started reading OT publications regularly, I was often confused by the alphabet soup following people’s names. Here is a list of common degrees: 

  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Science (ScD)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)
  • Certified Rehab Counselor (CRC)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Health Care
  • Master of Health Administration (MHA)

Conclusion

There is so much to learn about the different conditions and treatment techniques that can enhance our delivery of occupational therapy. I hope this article has inspired you, and given you concrete information for exploring which certifications/specializations will best help you grow your career.

I know for many of us, choosing whether to pursue one of these certifications will come down to money. For this reason, I also encourage you to read the article Should I Be an AOTA member?: A Guide to Investing in Your OT Career to help couch the expense within the broader context of the investments we make for our OT career.

102 replies on “30+ OT Certifications and Specialties”

You may want to add certifications in Infant Massage. I am a certified yoga instructor and let families know that too, if they would like me to utilize yoga with my kids for self regulation and strength/coordination issues.

The pictures on the Infant Massage Certification pages are adorable!!! Did you already have a background in massage? I’m curious what setting you are working in, hospital or outpatient? I’ve been wanting to ask someone about billing for massage therapy as an OT.

I am currently in the process of getting certified as an aquatic therapist, which could also be added to your list.

Meghann that would be a great addition! I was always jealous of the PTs in our office who did the aquatic therapy sessions 🙂 Are you working on your ATRI through the rehab institute? I’m seeing a couple of aquatic therapy continuing education options. I will do some more research and get it added to the list.

Certified Industrial Ergonomics Evaluator (CIEE), certifications for Functional Capacity Evaluation testing from various companies, certifications for post offer employment testing from various companies. All enhance my work in Industrial Rehabilitation, Work Injury, Work Hardening/Conditioning.

I work in an outpatient clinic. I will transition PT/OT patients from acute therapy to Work conditioning when they need that extra rehab and time to regain cardio and muscular endurance for very physical jobs (laborer, firefighter, carpenter,warehouse, etc.). I have gone onsite to companies to document job demands. You can also work onsite at companies performing work injury prevention programs and advising in ergonomic set up of work stations. Very "Occupation" focused.

Sarah, check this website for becoming a Saebo Certified Therapist to use Saebo Dynamic Orthoses for treatment of UE dysfunction after stroke and SCI. I have used their Orthoses and found them to be very effective.

This is awesome Sarah! It is so comprehensive and such a great resource for me to direct my students to!

A few more specialy certifications that CHTs also achieve (in descending order)
-Certified Strength and Conditioning (CSCS)
-Certified Ergonomic Assessment (CEAS)
-Certified Work Capacity Evaluator (CWCE)
-Certified Massage Therapist (CMT)
-Certified Ergonomic Evaluation Specialist (CEES)
-Astym Certification
-Árnadóttir OT-ADL Neurobehavioral Evaluation (A-ONE)
-Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE)
-Certified Wound Specialist (CWS)

Hello Alan.
Thank you for sharing. I would like to be certified in Ergonomic assessment and work capacity.
Where can i enroll for these?
I have been thinking of Workwell and Matherson, but i find these to be too expensive.
Any pointers on post OT studies i can take up to enhance my competence in the medico-legal field.
Contact: kushinga.maneswa@gmail.com
Cell: +27607446837

Hi Sarah,
I have been a COTAL for a year and a half in a skilled nursing facility it’s both long and short term. I love what I do with my patients that desire to get healthy and back to what is their prior level of function however, there are so many patients that are not motivated to participate in rehab no matter how much I educate and share the benefits of OT with them. My frustration is two fold: getting patients to participate, and the high physical demand this position has. I would love to continue my profession as a COTAL in a different setting. I have looked for job openings in hand therapy and out patient rehab clinics as well as work-hardening facilities. Nothing has come up, I’m not interested in home healthcare or working with children. Do you have any suggestions on any other possibilities to use my OT skills?
I really love my profession and the opportunity to come along and assist people to be the best that they can be. I’m hoping that you can open my eyes to different opportunities and possibilities.
I appreciate your blog and all those that contribute to it, it’s very helpful.
Thank you,
DAW

Hi DAW!
The physical taxation of working in skilled or acute care cannot be understated! That is a great blog post idea…. I was in acute care during my pregnancy and ended up switching to mental health, because the physical demands became too much. I found the mental health work to have many of the aspects that I loved about occupational therapy, i.e. working with people through a difficult time to get back to doing the things they valued, but without the physical taxation and crazy productivity demands of acute care and SNFs. Mental health is not for everyone, but it is certainly worth considering if there are openings in your area.

When I worked in an SNF, I always wished I was certified as a lymphedema therapist, it is definitely an investment, but might change up what your work day looked like or open the door to new employment.

Other than those two ideas, I would just keep watching postings in your area! We are lucky to be in a field where jobs seem to be posted at a pretty high frequency.

Best of luck, let me know if I can help in any way!

Please also consider certified vestibular therapist , my certification is from the American Institute of Balance
Dizzy.com. Well worth the the course and certification fees.

Thank you so much for compiling this! Please consider adding as subsection to the certifications if OTA’s are eligible! Thank you!

Becky, you read my mind! I am actually working on a post just for COTAs. I’ve always thought that being a COTA is a great career move, but now that I see all of the certifications available to them, I am more certain than ever!

Hi Sarah, interesting post. You state "This post is for occupational therapists who see a need in their area, are looking for a new challenge, or simply feel bored in their current OT practice." As a COTA who has make a very successful career by applying my OTA education to related areas in mental health and education, I encourage you to use language that is inclusive of both OTAs and OTAs when it is appropriate. Your post applies not only to occupational therapists, but also to occupational therapy assistants. AOTA recommends the term "occupational therapy practitioners" to be used when intending to include both. I suggest that you replace "occupational therapists" with "occupational therapy practitioners" in the above statement to broaden the scope of your excellent post.

Regards,

David M. Merlo, MS, COTA, CPRP, ROH

Thank you, David! I am currently looking at overhauling the language throughout my whole site to be more inclusive of both OTs and OTAs. I will apply your suggestion about using "occupational therapy practitioner." OTA is such an incredible profession and I am interested in ways I can serve COTAs better through my site.

For this particular article, I plan on doing a follow-up posts that spotlights speciality certifications for OTAs as the requirements are different for some of the certifications.

I am also looking for a COTA to interview about their career. Let me know if you would ever be interested in this. My email is sarah at optotential.com

Here’s one from the American College of Sports Medicine and National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD): OTs can become ACSM/NCPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT): http://certification.acsm.org/cift-webinar I learned about it from the Inclusive Fitness Coalition; they have an excellent manual on using fitness equipment for wheelchair users (incfit.org/files/Discover%20Accessible%20Fitness_FINAL.pdf).

Hello all,

I would like to go more into the direction of Functional Capacity evaluation and medico-legal consulting. I am thinking of Workwell and Matherson courses, but i find these to be too expensive.
Any pointers as to which courses i can take up to enhance my skills?

You can email me on: kushinga.maneswa@gmail.com
Cell (Whatsapp) : +27607446837

Hi Kushinga, this is really outside of my realm of knowledge. I feel like I’ve had some interactions with OTs on Linked-In who do this line of work? Have you tried reaching out to anyone through that network?

The Certified Industrial Ergonomic Evaluator (CIEE) looks like it is along a similar path (though slightly less expensive) and might help you get your feet wet in this realm. But, I’m not sure what the job prospects are like with this certification.

If you can any insight into the realm of OT, I would love to hear back from you.

hello, do you know if it is required do be certified in aquatic therapy to provide it in the state of FL? ( I am a COTA)

Hi, I just stumbled onto this blog and thought that it was great. I am a CHT, OT. I went through the Drexel University Advanced Practice Certificate in Hand and Upper Quadrant several years ago. I found the program (which is 16 doctoral level credits) to be immediately useful to my daily practice as an outpatient therapist. The program also prepared me to eventually sit for the CHT exam. Additionally, I am finishing my doctorate through Drexel (DHSc) which is a doctorate of health science (the credits from my advanced practice cert. applied to my current doctorate). They have a phenomenal faculty and Drexel also offers advanced practice certifications in pediatrics for those OTs who are in the pediatric world.

This is great information! Thank you for taking the time to share! Do you have a specific career goal in mind for how you will utilize your DHSc? This is my first introduction to this doctorate and I’m curious what common career outcomes are for people who obtain it. Thanks, Theresa!

I’m so happy to have found this post. I, too, am thinking about attaining a certification to focus my practice in a specific area. One area I’m interested in is lactation consulting (IBCLC). I am currently in an acute rehab setting. I enjoy so much about my job, but the physical demands certainly concern me. Thank you for compiling and sharing these, Sarah!

Absolutely! Lactation consultant and other specialities that assist with prenatal and postnatal care seem to be growing in popularity! (And thank you for reminding me that I need to do a post on protecting your back in acute care- as I have had the same difficulties with the physical demands.)

Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been a practicing OT for 4.5years now and have a burning desire to specialize in an area. This gave so much insight! Excited about the possibilities in this field!
-Egbe O, OTR/MS

Hi Kimberly! That is an interesting question! I’m totally guessing on these numbers, but maybe 50% of practicing OTs go on to receive a speciality certification and only 5% get more than one… Many OTs desire to specialize as they get into their career but it can feel like a big commitment as you are juggling career and personal life! Obtaining a certification may not always mean a bump in pay, so that must be weighed as well!

Hi Sarah, Finding your post has been so enlightening for me, I thank you for that! I am interested in getting more involved in the health and wellness aspect of our practice and am wondering if you or anyone reading this comment have information on how the ATRIC certification is used in our practice? For instance, might the local YMCA hire me to conduct classes for the general population interested in an aquatic exercise program? Any information someone can share would be most appreciated!

Hi, I’m Akbar from UAE. I had a hemmoragic stroke for 6 years on the right side. This was so tough for me because i never imagined myself in this way. I lost my speech and i was obviously useless because i could not perform any activity without any support, i could not walk, i used to enjoy driving but none of this i could do again. I was totally paralyzed. The worst part was the emotional aspect of it. I cry very easily and have no control over it because all the doctors or physiotherapist i met were not helpful at all. I am, however, very lucky that i was able to find a very effective alternative natural treatment to stroke that cured me completely. It has been two years now and i still can drive, i actually thought the cure was not permanent but now i am fully convinced and that is why i decided to write this. If you have stroke, cerebral palsy or any paralysis just contact Dr Joseph on (josephalberteo @ gmail. com) for more information or advise and i am sure his medicine can help you too. I hope this helps someone out there.

Hi, Sarah! I am so glad I found this blog as a potential OT applicant for fall 2018. I am attracted to OT and numerous opportunities to specialize. The main concern is my physical limitations with lifting patients in this career path and graduate program due to moderate back problems. Do you have any suggestions as to where I can work as an entry level OT? I understand that a specialty like the Certified Hand Therapist takes five years of work experience to get into. I would love to get your two cents on this!

Hi PLee, this is such a great question. One of the places I would start would be to contact your prospective OT school about possible accommodations for your fieldwork rotations. This could give you a good idea of not only what schooling would look like by job opportunities in your area. For a little inspiration, I would also check out Ingrid’s interview about her career path. There are definitely other OTs out there with physical limitations who are providing amazing value. https://otpotential.com/blog/ot-inclusive-design-interview

Hi Sarah – my wife is looking to go back to work now that our kids are older. She was in acute rehab and did a lot of brain and spinal cord injuries previously. I wonder what/how these certifications affect hourly per diem pay? Any resources you would recommend to best understand that? She’ll be studying to retake boards and we can invest in a specialization if it will pay back.

Thank you – great site,
James

Hi Sarah-
I’m interested in therapies geared toward those with hearing disabilities, including the use of vibrational tools, like sound, music, tuning forks, etc. I’d like to know what certifications others have sought. Thank you so much for your hard work in creating this blog!

Hei Sarah, what’s your estimation about the future of OT?-Which areas are going to have the biggest growth? In your opinion in which sector OT has the most unambiguous, significant and recognizable role?

A.T.

Great questions, Alex! I would put my money on virtual reality and AI having the biggest impact on therapy in the upcoming decades. We are just starting to see virtual reality hit the therapy market and I anticipate that it will expand quickly. I don’t know of any AI that has hit the therapy market, but I have to think that some type of automation will in the next decade. I think it will be extremely important for OTs to stay agile and ready to adapt.

As far as unambiguous, I think that all of the certifications above give the OT a very concrete focus area.

I’m curious to know your thoughts on your questions! What area do you think will have the biggest growth?

Thanks Sarah. Interesting view. I would like to see an example of a virtual reality therapeutic application. As for me, I think that at that moment a widely open field for OT is the technology field. And since it seems that technology will be in the center of the global investment interest for the upcoming years, then maybe "the next big thing" for OT is to cling to the therapeutic technology chariot. I am a "new born" therapist and at the moment it seems that ATP & CHT are among the things that attract me. But I still have many things to consider, that’s why I asked for your opinion which I consider as momentous.

A.T.

Thanks a lot, I will check it out. Sarah do you currently work as an OT somewhere? Or you are just occupied with the blog etc.?

Hi Alex! I am currently PRN at a local hospital (meaning I cover as needed when the regular therapists take vacation, sick days, etc.) Otherwise, I am focused on creating resources for OTs and spending time with my young kiddos 🙂

The last one sounds like the best job in the universe! Thanks for the talk Sarah. Until the next conversation, I wish God be with you and your family. Happy Easter!

International Spine and Pain Institute (ISPI) in partnership with EIM (Evidence in Motion) has a Therapeutic Pain Specialist (TPS) certification that OTs can obtain. It has given me incredibly valuable knowledge and hands on skills for treating patients with pain. In addition to their certification they have a lot of educational opportunities focusing on treating pain.

TPS- Cost $4800- information can be found:
https://www.ispinstitute.com/educational-offerings/course/therapeutic-pain-specialist-tps-certification/

You can also use the TPS courses toward a transitional OTD through EIM with a pain focus for an additional $6,125- ($10,925 total)
http://www.evidenceinmotion.com/educational-offerings/course/otd-tps/

Hey Donna! I tried to mention in the content of the article, which ones that I could easily tell were open to COTAs. But, I think this information should definitely become its own article, since it currently takes quite a bit of digging to figure out. I am adding it to my to-do list! Thanks for the comment.

Hi Sarah! This is a great resource. I’m a COTA and very interested in these specializations. Did you ever get around to creating a resource of specialties for COTAs? I could not find it on your website but saw it mentioned in your comments.

Also, do you know if a CLT can practice on their own, not under their COTA license? Meaning could I take clients outside of my OT practice?

Thank you so much for everything you do. Your articles are incredibly insightful.

Best,
Alexa

Argh!! Alexa! I’m sorry I have not gotten that post done! Certifications for COTAs has been on my list forever, but it keeps getting bumped down. I am putting it top of my list for Jan. 2018. Now that I’ve put a date on it I can no longer procrastinate!!

Hi I am interested in becomming an ADHD coach. Trying to get information about how this would help my current pediatric OT practice. I see a GREAT need in more clinicians educated in this population in the school systems,

Thank you for sharing this list. As occupational therapists, it is a great resource to provide some direction for those of us who want to specialize in a particular area. I will definitely share this with my peers!

University of Utah has a great option for post-professional OTD. Good value price-wise as well. You must practice for 2+ years before applying.

Hi Sarah! I came across your site while searching for information about growing your own OT business. I have been working as an OT for 6 years and am currently in home health in Norfolk, VA. I am very interested in becoming specialized in low vision and eventually starting my own practice. I am having a very hard time finding someone who has done something similar in order to provide some insight, mentorship etc. Do you have any suggestions on other websites or resources that might help me connect with low vision therapists?
Thanks!

Are there any specialties for OTs in the area of ADHD , beyond sensory integration? I am so interested in this area and have found myself coming across this population in adults in the home health setting I currently work in.

Hey Kate! I am updating this post today and just saw your comment! I don’t know of any certifications for the area of ADHD, but that doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist! Might be a good question for a FB group to get the OT hive mind’s input. If you find one, let me know and I will add it!

I’ve seen this too. Very popular certification at my facility cause our neurologists love CNS therapists. It’s one of the few that’s actually a registered certification mark with the USPTO.

Hi Sarah Lyon,
Do you know if this CNS Certified Neuro Specialist is an OT certification? It’s not on your list of certifications, so wondering if it’s not for OTs.

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