What do the “R” and the “C” really mean when you maintain your certification? It means you are a part of the 200,000+ OTRs and COTAs who are committed to NBCOT’s mission—serve the public interest in its diversity by advancing just, equitable, and inclusive client care and professional practice through evidence-based certification practices and the validation of knowledge essential for effective and safe practice in occupational therapy.
In a 2021 survey of OTRs and COTAs regarding the value of their national certification, respondents stated that the credential is:
- an enhancement to their professional credibility,
- a testament to the hard work they put into getting and maintaining certification,
- evidence of their commitment to the profession, and
- an achievement they are proud of.
Since 2002, we have maintained the three-year renewal fee at $65, all while increasing the number of value-added benefits you have access to. We are committed to maintaining excellence in our competency assessment tools and resources and we strive to meet that goal every day with the products and services we provide to you.
“Certification is important because every profession experiences continual change. There are always new techniques and interventions to learn. I need to stay at the top of my game to ensure I am always providing my patients with quality care and maintaining my COTA credential helps me do that.”
– Christie, COTA from Pennsylvania
You worked hard in school to earn your OT or OTA degree, you put in the hours to prepare for the national certification exam, you commit time to competency assessment and professional development, and you deserve to promote and be proud of your OTR or COTA certification. We encourage you to talk to your employers about your national certification and the value it has to you and to them.
Employers Value the OTR and COTA Credentials
In a 2021 study about the value of certification, employers were asked to share their perspective on the biggest benefits of having employees who are NBCOT certified. Several themes emerged regarding OTRs and COTAs:
- More engaged in and committed to the profession
- Greater professionalism
- More up-to-date on evidence-based practice and the profession as a whole
- Standard national level of participation
- Benefits of access to online tools from NBCOT
Maintaining your national certification supports employment opportunities when the OTR or COTA credential is required for job placement. Employers can verify your credential at any time through the “Verify an OTR/COTA” button on our website. Individuals who do not maintain their credential or who are subject to disciplinary action(s) are also listed here.
“I have been an occupational therapist for over 40 years, and I believe that certification and licensure is important to our profession, and I expect all my therapists to be professionals. Certification is also helping them keep up with their skills and competency.”
– Cheryl Strickland, OTR/L
President, Choice Rehabilitation
Maintaining Your National Certification Provides Flexibility
You can use the same professional development for your certification and your licensure. You do not need to duplicate efforts in any state.
Ten states currently accept NBCOT certification as an option for fulfilling state licensure requirements: Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina*, South Dakota, and Vermont.
“The NBCOT sets the standard for competence in occupational therapy. Licensure between states is not universal and therefore, is not always a good indicator of a therapist’s continued competence in this growing field. Research and evidence-based practice influences how our profession evolves. The NBCOT credential verifies that a therapist meets the standards for maintaining knowledge of current practice.”
– Amy, OTR from Connecticut
By keeping your OTR or COTA certification current, you are helping to expedite the process if you wish to seek licensure in another state. Initial licensure requires current NBCOT certification. Individuals who are seeking initial licensure in another state and who have let their certification lapse may need to complete a reinstatement application and be approved before information can be sent to the state. This can cause significant delays in obtaining a license to practice.
*South Carolina requires NBCOT certification to maintain your license.
Access to Free Tools to Earn Units Toward Certification Renewal Requirements
By maintaining your certification, you will have continued access to the NBCOT Navigator®, an award-winning competency-assessment platform containing practice-related tools to help you assess your knowledge. You can now earn up to 36 units each renewal cycle for successfully completing Navigator tools. There are 44 states plus the District of Columbia that accept Navigator as an option to renew your OT state license. There are a variety of tools to support your ongoing practice development by providing customized feedback on current practice skills along with access to evidence-based resources.
We recently released six new case simulations—four for OTRs and two for COTAs. Take a look at Public Health Crisis, Low Vision for OTR and COTA, Pediatric Mental Health, Middle School Autism, and COTA Ethics.
The Navigator can be accessed from your MyNBCOT account, and you can also download the NBCOT Navigator app on your iPad or Android tablet.
Practice Assessments award OTRs and COTAs who have demonstrated knowledge in a focused area of practice. Additionally, they provide opportunities to identify new areas of learning and professional growth. Certificants who pass a practice assessment will earn a digital badge representing their achievement. They will also earn competency assessment units (CAUs) to apply to certification or state licensure renewal where Navigator is accepted.