Occupational Therapy License Requirements in Massachusetts

The ‘OT’ after a healthcare professional’s name stands for occupational therapist; it means the person is part of a highly valued and growing profession. Massachusetts occupational therapists help people participate and function in daily routines, work, and other life activities. They evaluate patients, create treatment plans, and implement them or support their implementation. Treatment plans include activities that help people recover or develop skills across areas, including sensory-integrative, neuromuscular, and cognitive. Occupational therapists may utilize therapeutic modalities for which they have had appropriate training. Work may take place in the educational sector as well as the healthcare one.

Massachusetts has a lot going for it: innovative programs, top ranked schools, and a lot of job options.

Becoming an Occupational Therapist (OT) in Massachusetts

Prospective OTs earn degrees at the graduate level. Massachusetts has both master’s and doctoral options. Students can search for accredited programs on the site of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The programmatic accreditor, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, is under the AOTA banner.

The licensing examination is the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, or NBCOT.

A prospective OT must apply to the Massachusetts Board of Allied Health Professionals for a license.

Diverse Employment Options in Massachusetts for Occupational Therapists

The following are among Massachusetts’ diverse employers:

The Koomar Center has a focus on sensory integration. Therapists are able to provide evaluation and intervention for adults as well as pediatric populations. They can, for example, support adults in developing visual-vestibular coordination; adults with visual-vestibular issues, they note, can exhibit difficulty with navigation, organization, and driving and may experience issues such as motion sickness and fear of heights.

Puddingstone Place also serves multiple age groups. The emphasis is autism; the organization also serves other individuals with developmental issues. Puddingstone Place utilizes an in-house program developed by Boston University. It was the subject of an article in the Salem News (https://www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/autism-developmental-disabilities-center-opens-in-danvers/article_0253a4a2-2087-56c7-8b9f-183b9b259d1a.html). Occupational therapists help patients develop abilities such as motor, self-care, and organization and study skills.

Mary Immaculate Health Care Services offers a continuum of support services, including a short term rehabilitation program termed “Remarkable Recoveries” for individuals preparing to return home after a major illness, injury, or surgery. Occupational therapy in this unit may include stroke recovery, cognitive safety screening, community reintegration, and re-learning of ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).

Hebrew SeniorLife also provides a continuum of services for the elderly and others with serious health conditions. Among them are Medicare-certified home health services and therapy house calls. Occupational therapists who are involved in home care evaluate the home environment as well as the client.

The Pediatric Development Center is a provider of early intervention services; it serves infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or are at risk developmentally. A range of services are available. The Pediatric Developmental Center notes that their occupational therapy team helps children improve their sensory integration and perceptual skills and learn to use their hands effectively.

The Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s supports children through age 17 who have a range of conditions. Boston Children’s has special programs for Down Syndrome and William’s Syndrome.

The following were among the organizations and businesses seeking occupational therapists in Massachusetts in 2019:

• Lanessa Extended Care
• Criterion Child Enrichment
• New England Baptist Hospital
• South Bay Community Services
• Lahey Health System
• The Rehab and Nursing Center at Everett

Massachusetts Occupational Therapist Salary and Career Outlook

Massachusetts occupational therapists averaged $87,160 in 2018. Those at the high end — 90th percentile — earned approximately twice what those at the low end — 10th percentile — did. Salaries were as follows:

• 10th percentile: $58,960
• 25th percentile: $72,380
• 50th percentile: $87,940
• 75th percentile: $101,440
• 90th percentile: $117,860

The greater Boston area had the 5th highest employment levels of any metropolitan area in the nation. A greater than average job concentration (or location quotient) helped place it above even the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With regard to location quotient, two of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation were in Massachusetts: the Leominster-Gardner metropolitan area and the New Bedford metropolitan area. The state as a whole had a location quotient of 1.54 – as compared to a national norm of 1.00.

The Massachusetts OT profession is predicted to increase by 16.2% across the 2016 to 2026 decade.

Occupational Therapy Schools in Massachusetts

Boston University is tied for top rated program in the nation. The school offers a fully accredited OTD doctorate program. The capstone project pairs doctoral students with faculty mentors, they carry out a project related to clinical practice, advocacy, research, and/ or education. The school lists potential faculty mentors by area of interest: children and youth, productive aging, health and wellness, and mental health. Boston University students have the option of pursuing a combined OTD/PhD.

The Tufts University-Boston program is ranked 6th in the nation. The Department has a 100-year history; it was once the Boston School of Occupational Therapy. Faculty members have diverse research interests; one operates the REACH Lab (Research on Ethics, Aging, and Community Health).

Springfield College offers two master’s tracks. Students can make their career decision as undergraduates and earn both their bachelor’s and master’s in 5 1/2 years. They can also take the traditional path and enter as graduate students. In this case, the program will take 2 1/2 years. Springfield affiliates with more than 300 fieldwork sites.

Recent Developments in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is an evolving profession. In 2019, many Massachusetts occupational therapists have come out in support of a bill that would make occupational therapists qualified mental health providers.

Student and Professional Resources

Massachusetts occupational therapists are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Allied Health Professionals (https://www.mass.gov/allied-health-professionals-licensing).

The Massachusetts Association for Occupational Therapy is the state professional association http://maot.org).