Tennessee is the 36th largest and 17th most populous state among the 50 states of the United States of America. Many job opportunities and high salary in the state of Tennessee make the students of occupational therapy choose this to pursue their education and career. According to the BLS, the average annual and hourly income of occupational therapy professionals in Tennessee was $80,040 and $38.48 (in May 2015), respectively (1). The Tennessee Board of Occupational Therapy is the body that regulates the process and all the other formalities related to occupational therapy in the state. Board authorities may take 4 to 6 weeks to issue the license to the applicants of different job titles of occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy schools in Tennessee offer programs that are essential to be in different jobs of this profession including occupational therapy assistants, occupational therapy aides and occupational therapists. Courses provided are bachelors, masters, associates’, doctorate’s and dual degree. All these courses enhance the skills of a student that are essential to work as an occupational therapy professional; not only theoretically but also practically through an internship or practicum. Students of occupational therapy who are already working as a therapist and want to gain masters in the field can gain it in a year or two. Whereas, if you are a graduate in some other stream, you need at least 2 or 3 years to complete the course. In dual degree courses, candidates have the opportunity to do both graduation and post graduation simultaneously, in 5 years. Before making your mind to enroll for a program of occupational therapy, you must be aware of certain things about the school you have opted. Firstly, it should be approved from Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Secondly, you should enquire about the past reputation of the school. Also, you should know about the number of students enrolled in it for the same course in the last 5 years.

To know about the approved schools, procedure to become an OT and the salary figures in different cities of the state of Tennessee, read below:

Approved Occupational Therapy Schools in Tennessee

  • Belmont University
    Address – 1900 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37212
    Contact No. – 615-460-6000
    Official Websitehttp://www.belmont.edu/
  • Lipscomb University
    Address – One University Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37204-3951
    Contact No. – 800-333-4358
    Official Websitehttps://secure.lipscomb.edu/
  • Milligan College
    Address – 1 Blowers Boulevard, Milligan College, TN 37682
    Contact No. – 800-262-8337 (Toll-Free)
    Official Websitehttp://www.milligan.edu/
  • Nashville State Community College
    Address – 120 White Bridge Park, Nashville, TN 37209
    Contact No. – 615-353-3333
    Official Websitehttp://www.nscc.edu/
  • Roane State Community College
    Address – 276 Patton Lane, Harriman, TN 37748-5011
    Contact No. – 865-354-3000
    Official Websitehttp://www.roanestate.edu/
  • Southern Adventist University
    Address – 4881 Taylor Circle, Collegedale, TN 37315
    Contact No. – 800-768-8437
    Official Websitehttp://www1.southern.edu/
  • The University of Tennessee
    Address – Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
    Contact No. – 865-974-1000
    Official Websitehttp://www.utk.edu/
  • Tennessee State University
    Address – 3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37209
    Contact No. – 615-963-5000
    Official Websitehttp://www.tnstate.edu/

Stepwise Process To Become An Occupational Therapist In Tennessee

This state has numerous demands for occupational therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,840 employed and licensed occupational therapists in May 2015, in Tennessee. License procedure followed by the states is distinct in the Unites States of America. In Tennessee, the demands and conditions of licensing body to provide license to the applicants are dissimilar to all the other places. The board offers licensure at two levels; one is for the occupational therapy assistants and another for the occupational therapists. While waiting to take the exam for permanent license, you can apply for a temporary one at any of the two levels. To obtain the temporary license, you need to work under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist that has at least a year of licensure with the state. Tennessee also gives license for Physical Agent Modalities (PAM) to the licensed occupational therapists accompanied with an additional training. If you fulfill the eligibility criteria, you can apply for it through an application form. All those who want OT practice as an occupational therapist in the state needs to follow the procedure given below –

Step 1 – Graduation from an ACOTE Certified School in Occupational Therapy

A bachelor’s, masters or dual degree from an ACOTE or AOTA approved college is required by the board to provide license as an occupational therapist to the applicants. Thus, you need to gain any of these degrees to become licensed as a registered occupational therapist in the state. In Tennessee, there are 4 approved schools that provide you courses that are necessary to become a therapist. For basic information about all the approved occupational therapy schools in Tennessee, you can refer the list included in this article.

Step 2 – Complete the Internship or Practicum

Second step towards your dream to be a registered occupational therapist in the state of Tennessee is to complete an internship or practicum of at least 6 months under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. This internship or field training will improve your working skills that are essential to implement occupational therapy on the disabled patients, as you will get the chance to deal with the practical situations as soon as you become an OT.

Step 3 – Clearance of the National Certification Exam

To become licensed as an occupational therapist, you need to pass the national certification exam for occupational therapists named as Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) and score at least in the 70th percentile. After the clearance of this exam, you can work as an OT all over the country. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) organizes this exam.

Step 4 – Apply for the State License in Tennessee

The next step you need to follow after passing the national certification exam is to apply for the licensure to the board. For this, you have to fill an application form, sign it properly and submit it to the licensing body of the state. Along with this, you also have to submit a check or money order of $110 as licensing fee and some documents like the verification of certification from NBCOT, verification of licensure from all the states where you have worked till date and the official transcripts from all the attended colleges. Board with take about 4 to 6 weeks to issue the license to the applicants after reviewing all the documents and transcripts.

Step 5 – Renew the Professional Licensure

Maintenance of licensure is equally important as to obtain the license from the licensing body. For this, it should be renewed by completing 24 continuing competency hours, before the expiration of period of licensure.

Salary of Occupational Therapists in Tennessee

As per indeed.com salary of an occupational therapist in Tennessee was $80,000 as of May 18, 2016 (2).

Median Salary of Professionals with Similar Job Titles

Occupational Therapist Home Health $88,000
Occupational Therapist Occupational Therapy $80,000
Occupational Therapist Skilled $80,000
Occupational Therapist Hand $86,000
Outpatient Occupational Therapist $89,000
Occupational Therapist Pediatric $80,000
OT Occupational Therapist Therapy $94,000
Occupational Therapist Psych $80,000
Occupational Therapist Rotation $47,000
Occupational Therapist School $80,000
Occupational Therapist Pediatric Outpatient $80,000
Occupational Therapist Acute $80,000
OT Occupational Therapy $95,000
Occupational Therapist Rehab $80,000
Occupational Therapist Outpatient $80,000

Information Source: indeed.com

On the analysis of the table above, we can make out that the wage of an OT Occupational Therapy is highest in Tennessee among all the related jobs titles of occupational therapy at $95,000, while the lowest is of Occupational Therapist Rotation at $47,000.

Annual Median Salaries Of OTs In Different Cities Of Tennessee

Name of the City Annual Median Salary
Chattanooga $73,364
Clarksville $72,732
Franklin $76,446
Germantown $76,827
Hendersonville $76,446
Jackson $76,827
Johnson City $69,350
Kingsport $69,350
Knoxville $71,770
Memphis $76,827
Murfreesboro $76,446
Nashville $76,446

Information Source: salary.com

From the table above, we can make out that the wage of occupational therapists in Tennessee is highest in Germantown, Jackson and Memphis i.e. $76,827, whereas the lowest is in Johnson City and Kingsport i.e. $69,350 on April 26, 2016 (3).