· Graduation from a degree program in occupational therapy approved by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or predecessor organizations to include an internship (supervised fieldwork experience required by the educational institution).
· Certification/Examination. Possession of written documentation that the individual has passed the entry-level certification examination for OTs which is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
NOTE: Effective January 1, 2007, candidates for certification as an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) must be a graduate from a post-baccalaureate accredited occupational therapy program approved by NBCOT or be a graduate from a degree program recognized by NBCOT or considered equivalent to the American Occupational Therapy education standard.
· State Licensure/Certification/Registration/Trademark (hereafter referred to as state regulatory requirement). The OT must hold a full, current, and unrestricted state license, certification, or registration or trademark to practice occupational therapy in a State, Territory, a Commonwealth of the United States (i.e., Puerto Rico), or in the District of Columbia.
NOTE: The OT must maintain full, current and unrestricted license, trademark, registration, or certification as required by state statute. The majority of states have determined that licensure is the most effective approach to regulating occupational therapy practitioners. As of the date of this standard, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico license OTs; two statesHawaii and Michiganhave registration laws; and one state, Colorado, has a title protection trademark law.
a. Creditable Experience
(1) Knowledge of Occupational Therapy Practice. To be creditable, the experience must have required the use of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics associated with current professional occupational therapy practice. Creditable experience can be obtained through employment as an OT. This may be evidenced by one or both of the following:
(a) Active professional practice. Active professional practice means paid/non-paid employment as a professional OT as defined by AOTA. Experience gained after graduation but prior to licensure is creditable provided the candidate was utilized as a graduate OT and subsequently passed the NBCOT certification and the required state regulatory requirements.
(b) Completion of a post-graduate fellowship or a post-graduate residency program may substitute for creditable experience on a year for year basis. Fellowships or post-graduate training programs are typically in specialty areas such as advanced practice, research, mental health, gerontology, enhanced education, health policy, leadership and therapeutic sciences.
(2) Quality of Experience. Experience is only creditable if it is post-graduate experience as a professional OT directly related to the duties to be performed. Qualifying experience must also be at a level comparable to professional occupational therapy experience at the next lower level. For all assignments above the full performance level, the higher level duties must consist of significant scope, administrative independence, complexity (difficulty) and range of variety as described in this standard at the specified grade level and be performed by the incumbent at least 25% of the time.
(3) Content Specialty. Specialized content areas of occupational therapy practice include, but are not limited to, certified hand specialist, ergonomic specialist, blind/visual rehabilitation assistive technology specialist, functional capacity examination specialist, polytrauma, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, geriatrics, mental health, driver rehabilitation, home based primary care, etc.
(4) Part-time Experience. Part-time experience is creditable according to its relationship to a full-time workweek. For example, an OT employed 20 hours per week, or on a half time basis, would receive 1 full-time workweek of credit for each 2 weeks of service.
b. Grade Determinations. In addition to the basic requirements for employment, the following criteria must be met when determining the grade of candidates:
(1) GS-7 Staff Occupational Therapist
(a) Experience or Education. None beyond the basic requirements. Candidates at this level may have a baccalaureate degree from an approved program prior to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) January 1, 2005, decision as shown in the note in paragraph 2.
(b) Assignment. Employees at this level serve in an entry level OT career development position practicing under close supervision of an OT at or above the full-performance level.
(2) GS-9 Staff Occupational Therapist
(a) Experience or Education. In addition to meeting the basic requirements, candidate must have:
1. At least 1 year of post-graduate progressively responsible experience equivalent to the next lower grade level; or 2. Education equivalent to two full years of progressively higher level graduate education in a field related to the practice of occupational therapy; or 3. Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy or a closely related field accredited by ACOTE.
(b) Assignments. Candidates at this grade level serve as staff OTs in a career development position progressively expanding their ability to provide assessment and treatment interventions for a wider range of human function systems. OTs at this level require less direction and guidance, but practice under the direction of an OT at or above the full performance level.
(3) GS-11 Occupational Therapist
(a) Education and Experience. In addition to meeting the basic requirements, completion of one year of progressively complex experience and a broader scope of experience equivalent to the next lower grade directly related to the position being filled, or 3 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a degree in occupational therapy or a directly related field.
(b) Assignment. OTs at this grade level must meet state regulatory requirements for assignment at this grade level, and are considered to be at the full performance level. Staff OTs at this level practice independently and are responsible for performing occupational therapy assessment and treatment interventions. Staff OTs demonstrate a full professional understanding of the theories of treatment in occupational therapy and their proper application through the use of activity analysis, behavioral intervention, frame of references, and therapeutic procedures. They are assigned to all program areas which are covered by Rehabilitation Services and provide professional, independent occupational therapy services in the assigned area. OTs at this level may be given general assignments in any occupational therapy program area where the advanced specialized knowledge is not required on a recurring basis due to the patient population served and complexity of the facility and/or treatment area or may serve as the sole OT at a less complex facility. Individuals may perform ancillary assignments, including program management duties on an occasional basis, where the complexity and amount of work is not substantial (less than 25% of the duty time).