Occupational Therapist Requirements in South Carolina: How to become an Occupational Therapist in SC

Occupational therapists help people function in a wide variety of life areas – in this case, the word “occupation” does not refer specifically to vocation or profession. Occupational therapy is a profession for people who enjoy helping people of any age. South Carolina’s occupational therapists assist people with a wide variety of potentially limiting conditions: developmental issues, physical illnesses, injuries, psychological dysfunctions, social dysfunctions, and aging. An individual OT may work with a wide population or a relatively narrow subset.

Occupational therapy programs are taught at the graduate level; they provide opportunities for both breadth of study and specialization. Doctoral programs typically provide more opportunities for specialization and development of advanced practice skills than master’s programs do.

Popular Occupational Therapist Schools in South Carolina

The Medical University of South Carolina is nationally ranked at #17. The MUSC program has recently transitioned from the master’s level to the doctoral level. The fully accredited master’s program has admitted its last class; the doctoral program holds the status that ACOTE grants to programs that have just begun admitting students. The school states that applicants make themselves competitive through life experiences as well as academic background and GRE scores. Leadership experience, research activity, and volunteer experience are all valued. MUSC touts the interprofessional collaboration opportunities it offers its students. Occupational therapy students provide outreach at the CARES clinic. Students complete one of their two full-time Level II fieldwork experiences in an adult inpatient setting.

Meeting Occupational Therapist Licensing Standards in South Carolina

Occupational therapists are licensed by the South Carolina Board of Occupational Therapy. Prospective licensees will meet most state requirements by meeting standards of national organizations. They will begin by completing an ACOTE-accredited program.

South Carolina has one occupational therapy program. It is doctoral level. A majority of accredited programs around the nation are master’s level, but a growing number have transitioned. The American Occupational Therapy Association maintains directories of accredited programs throughout the country (www.aota.org/Education Careers/Find School.aspx).

After graduation, the candidate will seek certification by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. A candidate who meets prerequisite requirements will be admitted to the board examination. A graduate who is waiting to test, or waiting to receive results, may be granted a temporary license.

The South Carolina Board expects occupational therapists to remain in good status with NBCOT. An applicant who is not a recent exam taker will need to demonstrate current certification at the time of license application.

South Carolina, like many states, also requires applicants to pass a jurisprudence exam. This is state-specific.

Occupational Therapy Practice Areas

The Medical University of South Carolina states that adult rehabilitation, pediatrics, and hand therapy are common practice areas. Driver rehabilitation, ergonomics, and assisted living are among those characterized as “emerging”. The following are cited as possible work settings: hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, school-based settings, private practices and specialty practices.

Occupational therapists who work for hospital or health systems may have very varied inpatient and/ or outpatient roles. Some systems even employ occupational therapists for home health positions. Medical University of South Carolina lists the following among the conditions for which people may receive inpatient occupational therapy: stroke, trauma, spinal cord injury, hip replacement, and burns. Services could include, among others, evaluation to determine equipment needs, custom splinting to protect areas of injury, training in managing personal care, and/ or training in cognitive skills.

Occupational therapists may work with children in clinical or school-based settings. Some organizations (for example, Easter Seals-South Carolina) provide services in multiple settings including schools and preschool settings. Lowcountry Therapy states that the “occupation of childhood” is skill development for adult independence and function; the organization notes sensory modulation, body awareness or proprioception, bilateral integration, motor planning, visual perceptual skills, and daily living skills among the areas of focus.

Top Employers in South Carolina

The following are among South Carolina’s many occupational therapist employers:
Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina
Brookdale Senior Living
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
Roper St. Francis Healthcare
BAYADA Home Health Care

The following are among those that serve pediatric or school-based populations:

Pediatrics Unlimited
Charleston Pediatric Rehabilitation
Southland Pediatric Therapy Services
Aiken County Public Schools

South Carolina Occupational Therapist Salary and Career Outlook

South Carolina occupational therapists earned a mean salary of $78,470 in 2018. The state’s highest earners earned more than twice what the lowest earners did. The 10th percentile salary was $52,510; the median, $79,460; the 90th percentile, $106,250.

Some South Carolina metropolitan areas reported average salaries well above the norm for the state. In the Myrtle Beach-Conway area, the average was $88,970. In the Florence area, it was $86,620; in the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, $85,550. In each of these areas, there was a wide salary range.

The South Carolina OT profession has been projected to experience 26.1% occupational growth between 2016 and 2026. South Carolina’s job concentration is currently lower than the national average; this is as of 2018.

Student and Professional Resources

Licensing information is available from the South Carolina Board of Occupational Therapy (https://llr.sc.gov/ot).

The South Carolina Occupational Therapy Association is the state professional association (https://www.scota.net).