occupational-therapy-specialties

20 Occupational Therapy Specialties to Advance Your Career

When you get your first job as a licensed occupational therapy practitioner, you usually aren’t thinking about additional occupational therapy specialties right off the bat. Your primary focus is just trying to keep your head above water.

You are thrown into unfamiliar territory, and as a result you spend the first few years of your career figuring out the basics and what your interests are.

For those who have spent a lot of time in a single setting like rehab, you may have grown complacent and are wondering what step to take next and how to boost your credentials.

The following is a list of 20 common occupational therapy specialties and certifications that practitioners can obtain. Some may take you by surprise, and some you might already be qualified for.

20 Occupational Therapy Specialties to Advance Your Career

1. Gerontology (BCG)

Specialties 1-9 are all provided by the AOTA via an application process.

Board Certification in Gerontology

The eligibility requirements for gerontology are as follows:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 5,000 hours in any capacity of gerontology
  • Minimum of 500 hours delivering OT services in gerontology within the past 5 years
  • Verification of employment

2. Mental Health (BCMH)

Board Certification in Mental Health

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 5,000 hours in any capacity of Mental Health
  • Minimum of 500 hours delivering OT services in mental health within the past 5 years
  • Verification of employment

3. Pediatrics (BCP)

ot-pediatrics

Board Certification in Pediatrics

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 5,000 hours in any capacity of pediatrics
  • Minimum of 500 hours delivering OT services in pediatrics within the past 5 years

4. Physical Rehabilitation (BCPR)

Board Certification in Physical Rehabilitation

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 5,000 hours in any capacity of physical rehabilitation
  • Minimum of 500 hours delivering OT services in physical rehabilitation within the past 5 years
  • Verification of employment

5. Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM or SCDCM-A)

Specialty Certification in Driving and Community Mobility

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 2,000 hours as an OT (specialty not required for these hours)
  • Minimum of 600 hours delivering OT services within driving and community mobility (within the past 5 years)
  • Verification of employment

6. Environmental Modification (SCEM or SCEM-A)

Specialty Certification in Environmental Modification

Eligibility requirements:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Verification of employment
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 2,000 hours as an OT (specialty not required here)
  • Minimum of 600 hours delivering OT services within environmental modification
  • Verification of employment

7. Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing (SCFES or SCFES-A)

Specialty Certification in Feeding, Eating and Swallowing

Eligibility requirements:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 2,000 hours working as an OT (specialty not required for these hours)
  • Minimum of 600 hours delivering OT services within feeding, eating, and swallowing (within the past 5 years)
  • Verification of employment

8. Low Vision (SCLV or SCLV-A)

ot-low-vision

Specialty Certification in Low Vision

Eligibility requirements:

  • Completed application form and fee
  • Evidence via portfolio/examples of completed work
  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Minimum of 2,000 hours working as an OT (specialty not required for these hours)
  • Minimum of 600 hours delivering OT services within low vision (within the past 5 years)
  • Verification of employment

9. School Systems (SCSS or SCSS-A)

Specialty Certification in SCHOOL SYSTEMS

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Professional degree in OT
  • Certified or licensed by and in good standing with an AOTA-recognized credentialing or regulatory body
  • Minimum of 5 years practicing as an OT
  • Verification of employment
  • Minimum of 2,000 hours as an OT
  • Minimum of 600 hours delivering OT services within the school system (within the past 5 years)

10. Certified Hand Therapist (CHT)

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Occupational or physical therapist for three years
  • 4,000 hours of direct hand therapy practice experience (obtained in any country). Upcoming and projected hours are not accepted prior to the application deadline.
  • Must pass the Certified Hand Therapist exam

Read more about becoming a Certified Hand Therapist.

11. Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT)

Norton School of Lymphadema Therapy

The Brennan School of Innovative Lymphatic Studies

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Licensed occupational therapist
  • The course is 135 hours long divided into classroom instruction and home study
  • The current cost for the entire course is $3,200

12. Assistive Technology Professional (ATP)

Exam Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements include:

  • A variety of educational backgrounds are accepted, ranging from high school diploma to Master’s degree or higher
  • Total hours of assistive tech-related training will depend on the degree received (10, 20, 30 hours)
  • Half of training hours need to be met at IACET or University approved continuing education units; the other half may be fulfilled by other Continuing Education Credits or documented contact hours
  • Training hours must be completed in same time frame as your work experience

13. Seating and Mobility Specialist (ATP/SMS)

ot-seating-mobility

SMS Exam Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Already obtained ATP certification
  • 1,000 hours or more in seating and mobility-related service with consumers at any time in your professional experience
  • Two types of professional activities completed in the last 5 years: Continuing education, client service delivery, advocacy, mentoring, presentation, publication, leadership

14. Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS)

Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Licensed occupational or physical therapist
  • The educational program includes four 8-hour seminars costing a total of $800 for all four courses
  • The cost of the exam is ranges from $150-$175 depending on National Stroke Association membership

15. Neuro-Developmental Treatment Certification (C/NDT)

Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Completion of at least one of the following courses:
    • Course in the Management of Adults with Stroke and Brain Injury
    • NDT/Bobath Certificate Course in the Management & Treatment of Children with Cerebral Palsy and Other Neuromotor Disorders
  • Hold an active NDTA membership.

Apply within 12 months of successful course completion (with $150 application fee if submitted after 20 days of the course end date).

16. Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Completion of the following courses:
    • Marketing and Communicating with the Aging in Place Client (CAPS I)
    • Design Concepts for Livable Homes and Aging in Place (CAPS II)
    • Details and Solutions for Livable Homes and Aging in Place (CAPS III)
  • Completion of online CAPS graduation application
  • Signed copy of CAPS code of ethics pledge
  • Application fee (ranging from $300-500)

17. Certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPSC)

Certified HPCS/AHCB Specialist

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Licensed or certified OT, PT, SLP, or certified assistant
  • One year of full-time experience in practice
  • Taking AHA, Inc. Level I and II courses
  • A minimum of 25 hours of one-on-one direct treatment in clinical practice using hippotherapy following Level II course
  • Experience/comfort working with horses

18. Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIST)

ot-mental-health

Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS)

Eligibility requirements include:

  • 500 hours of currently verifiable direct contact experience with an individual or individuals with brain injury (through paid employment or academic internship; volunteer work does not count)
  • Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • The class currently costs $300

19. Saebo Certified Therapist

Read more about SAEBO on their website. Saebo Certification – Live

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Licensed occupational or physical therapist or COTA/PTA
  • Have experience with fabricating and fitting splints/orthotics
  • Have experience with evaluation and treatment of neurological patients
  • Currently have an active caseload consisting of neurological patients that are appropriate for the Saebo program

20. Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Meet the discipline requirement (which includes licensed occupational therapists)
  • Obtain a minimum of 2 years professional practice experience after meeting the discipline requirement
  • Obtain 1,000 hours providing diabetes education

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I hope this list gave you a few ideas to get started on increasing your credentials!

What other occupational therapy specialties would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below!

 

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One comment

  • Kathleen Lisson July 14, 2018   Reply →

    Klose training is also an excellent resource for Certified Lymphedema Therapist training.

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