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. 10,620) in May 2017 and was the second top paying state in the U.S. It paid $89,870 per annum and $43.21 per hour.

Approved Occupational Therapy Schools in California

  • California State University
    Address – 1000 East Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747
  • Dominican University of California
    Address – 50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael, California 94901
  • Grossmont College
    Address – 8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Canjon, California 92020
  • Loma Linda University
    Address – 11139 Anderson Street, Loma Linda, CA 92350
  • Sacramento City College
    Address – 3835 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95822
  • Samuel Merritt University
    Address – 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California 94609 3100 Telegraph
  • San Jose State University
    Address – One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192
  • Santa Ana College
    Address – 1530 West, 17th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706-3398
  • University of Southern California
    Address – Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • Stanbridge College
    Address – 2041 Business Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92612
  • University of St. Augustine
    Address – 700 Windy Point Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069
    Contact No. – 800-241-1027
    Official Website
  • West Coast University
    Address – 590 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004

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 $89,870 and $43.21, respectively.

As per, the average salary of an occupational therapist in California was $109,782, per annum (as of September 1, 2018).

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: (as of March 16, 2016)

According to, the median wage of occupational therapists in Los Angeles, California was between $96,580 (as of September 1, 2018). 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 $95,429
Anitoch $97,748
Apple valley $90,591
Bakersfield $91,714
Berkeley $101,193
Burbank $96,580
Carlsbad $91,302
Carson $95,216
Chico $87,155
Chula Vista $91,814
Coachella $90,663
Concord $95,950
Corona $91,239
Costa Mesa $95,216
Daly City $107,598
Downey $95,662
El Cajon $91,541
El Monte $96,478
Elk Grove $92,859
Escondido $91,302
Fairfield $95,882
Fontana $91,375
Fremont $103,977
Fresno $85,566
Fullerton $95,429
Garden grove $95,429
Glendale $96,580
Hayward $101,022
Huntington Beach $95,216
Inglewood $96,580
Irvine $95,216
Lancaster $96,068
Lompoc $89,067
Long Beach $95,216
Los Angeles $96,580
Modesto $90,690
Monterey $94,818
Moreno Valley $91,307
Murrieta $93,140
Newhall $95,371
Norwalk $95,305
Oakland $101,193
Oceanside $92,018
Ontario $91,239
Orange $95,216
Oxnard $91,562
Palmdale $95,940
Pasadena $96,580
Petaluma $96,070
Pomona $95,224
Rancho Cucamonga $90,919
Rialto $90,975
Richmond $101,580
Riverside $91,375
Roseville $92,756
Sacramento $92,995
Salinas $94,614
San Bernardino $90,975
San Diego $91,814
San Francisco $107,598
San Jose $104,182
Santa Ana $95,301
Santa Barbara $92,291
Santa Clara $104,182
Santa Clarita $95,210
Santa Cruz $95,210
Santa Maria $90,629
Santa Rosa $93,251
Simi Valley $93,647
Stockton $91,544
Sunnyvale $104,182
Temecula $91,860
Thousand Oaks $92,942
Torrance $95,216
Vallejo $96,155
Ventura $91,562
Victorville $90,627
Visalia $85,054
West Covina $95,224

Information Source: (as of September 1, 2018)