Occupational Therapy in California: Schools, Certification Procedure and Salary

In California, Occupational Therapy schools offer courses at master’s degree level. Master’s degree course is also available for those aspirants who possess a graduate degree in some other field. They can complete it in 2-3 years. Existing OTs can get this degree in 1-2 years. You can also go for dual bachelor’s and master’s degree occupational therapy course, which takes 5 years to complete. Both graduate and undergraduate programs include fieldwork to make you capable to work in real work settings. Since California is the highly populated state of the United States, it will require a large number of OTs to help people recover from physical, emotional or mental disabilities. Therefore, one can expect a bright future in this area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California employed the highest number of occupational therapists (i.e. 10,201) in May 2015 and was the second top paying state in the U.S. It paid $88,850 per annum and $42.72 per hour.

Approved Occupational Therapy Schools in California

  • California State University
    Address – 1000 East Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747
    Contact No – 310-243-3696
    Official Websitehttp://www.csudh.edu
  • Dominican University of California
    Address – 50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael, California 94901
    Contact No. – 415-457-4440
    Official Websitehttp://www.dominican.edu
  • Grossmont College
    Address – 8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Canjon, California 92020
    Contact No. – 619-644-7000
    Official Websitehttp://www.grossmont.edu
  • Loma Linda University
    Address – 11139 Anderson Street, Loma Linda, CA 92350
    Contact No. – 909-558-1400
    Official Websitehttp://home.llu.edu
  • Sacramento City College
    Address – 3835 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95822
    Contact No. – 916-558-2111
    Official Websitehttp://www.scc.losrios.edu
  • Samuel Merritt University
    Address – 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California 94609 3100 Telegraph
    Contact No. – 800-607-6377
    Official Websitehttps://www.samuelmerritt.edu
  • San Jose State University
    Address – One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192
    Contact No. – 408-924-1000
    Official Websitehttp://www.sjsu.edu
  • Santa Ana College
    Address – 1530 West, 17th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706-3398
    Contact No. – 714-564-6000
    Official Websitehttp://www.sac.edu
  • University of Southern California
    Address – Los Angeles, CA 90089
    Contact No. – 213-740-2311
    Official Websitehttp://www.usc.edu
  • Stanbridge College
    Address – 2041 Business Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92612
    Contact No. – 888-378-6676
    Official Websitehttps://www.stanbridge.edu
  • University of St. Augustine
    Address – 700 Windy Point Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069
    Contact No. – 800-241-1027
    Official Websitehttp://www.usa.edu
  • West Coast University
    Address – 590 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004
    Contact No. – 323-284-7998
    Official Websitehttp://westcoastuniversity.edu


Stepwise Procedure to Become an Occupational Therapist in California

Step 1 – Obtain a Degree in Occupational Therapy

If you want to get a license as a registered occupational therapist in California, it is essential to complete your bachelor’s, master’s or an associate’s degree in occupational therapy from an NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) accredited university or school.

Step 2 – Pursue an Internship

After completing the graduation, it is compulsory for the aspirants to complete internship in a clinical setting under the guidance of a licensed occupational therapy expert. Many NBCOT accredited degree programs provide internships during the school as well. To gain licensure, one need to have the clinical experience of about 24 weeks under the expert’s supervision.

Step 3 – Clear the National Certification Exam

An exam is held by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy which tests the knowledge of the registered occupational therapists or occupational therapists assistants. An aspirant should pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam to obtain the license. If you fail to clear the test, you can retake it after 45 days.

Step 4 – Application for California State License

An essential prerequisite for those who are seeking to be an OT in California is the state license. Submit a completely filled application to the Board of Occupational Therapy as well as submit a “Verification of Certification” from the NBCOT along with all the transcripts of the qualifying education. You can also request the states (where you have worked earlier) to send letters of good standing to the Board. Complete other formalities like provide a fingerprint report, clear the background check, and pay the fees. The Board takes 3 weeks to review your application before the license is finally issued.

Note: The initial license fee is subjected to change every month.

Step 5 – Obtain Continuing Education Credits

The state of California wants their OT professionals to keep up the skills by engaging in continuing education. In order to renew their license, registered occupational therapists need to complete 24 professional development units during their 2-year licensure period.

Salary of Occupational Therapists in California

According to the BLS, the average annual and hourly income of these professionals was $89,740 and $43.14, respectively.

As per indeed.com, the average salary of an occupational therapist in California was $93,000 per annum (as of March 16, 2016).

Average Salary of Professionals with Related Job Titles

Occupational Therapist School $92,000
Occupational Therapist Rotation $55,000
Occupational Therapist Pediatric Outpatient $93,000
Occupational Therapist Pediatric $93,000
Outpatient Occupational Therapist $102,000
Occupational Therapist Psych $93,000
Occupational Therapist Home Health $102,000
Occupational Therapist Hand $99,000
Occupational Therapist Occupational Therapy $93,000
Occupational Therapist Rehab $93,000
OT Occupational Therapist Therapy $109,000
Occupational Therapist Skilled $93,000
OT Occupational Therapy $110,000
Occupational Therapist Acute $93,000
Occupational Therapist Outpatient $93,000

Information Source: indeed.com (as of March 16, 2016)

According to salary.com, the median wage of occupational therapists in Los Angeles, California was between $73,791 to $87,756 (as of February 22, 2016). But, some factors like population, competition, experience, geographic location, etc., lead to the variations in the salaries of occupational therapist in every city of the state.

Annual Median Salaries of OTs in Different Cities of California

Name of the City Annual Median Salary
Anaheim $89,076
Anitoch $89,825
Apple valley $84,983
Bakersfield $82,945
Berkeley $91,444
Burbank $88,327
Carlsbad $85,709
Carson $89,076
Chico $82,865
Chula Vista $85,709
Coachella $84,983
Concord $91,444
Corona $84,983
Costa Mesa $89,076
Daly City $98,373
Downey $89,076
El Cajon $85,709
El Monte $88,327
Elk Grove $87,505
Escondido $85,709
Fairfield $89,825
Fontana $84,983
Fremont $95,086
Fresno $82,116
Fullerton $89,076
Garden grove $89,076
Glendale $88,327
Hayward $91,444
Huntington Beach $89,076
Inglewood $88,327
Irvine $89,076
Lancaster $88,327
Lompoc $82,051
Long Beach $89,076
Los Angeles $88,327
Modesto $85,531
Monterey $89,302
Moreno Valley $84,983
Murrieta $84,983
Newhall $88,327
Norwalk $89,076
Oakland $91,444
Oceanside $85,709
Ontario $84,983
Orange $89,076
Oxnard $85,314
Palmdale $88,327
Pasadena $88,327
Petaluma $89,825
Pomona $89,076
Rancho Cucamonga $84,983
Rialto $84,983
Richmond $98,373
Riverside $84,983
Roseville $87,505
Sacramento $87,505
Salinas $89,302
San Bernardino $84,983
San Diego $85,709
San Francisco $98,373
San Jose $95,086
Santa Ana $89,076
Santa Barbara $85,249
Santa Clara $95,086
Santa Clarita $88,327
Santa Cruz $92,886
Santa Maria $81,946
Santa Rosa $89,382
Simi Valley $85,314
Stockton $87,416
Sunnyvale $95,086
Temecula $84,983
Thousand Oaks $85,314
Torrance $89,076
Vallejo $89,825
Ventura $85,314
Victorville $84,983
Visalia $82,116
West Covina $88,327

Information Source: salary.com (as of March 2016)