Begin your certification journey by creating a MyNBCOT account. With an account, you can:
Apply for the Exam
Apply for the exam and track your application status and service order status.
Use Aspire Study Tools
Access and use your Aspire study tools to prepare for the exam.
Receive notifications on the latest NBCOT news and update your information.
To be eligible to take the NBCOT certification exam, you must have graduated with one of the following U.S.-accredited degrees:
- Associate degree in occupational therapy (COTA® exam)
- Entry-level master's degree in occupational therapy (OTR® exam)
- Entry-level doctoral degree in occupational therapy (OTR® exam)
If you are a U.S. student (1) planning to study abroad, OR (2) thinking about applying for OTED after earning your entry-level master's degree in occupational therapy from outside of the U.S., please keep in mind the following:
- Graduating with an occupational therapy degree from a government-authorized educational program does not guarantee OTED approval.
- Meeting the OTED eligibility requirements does not guarantee OTED approval. However, recommendations are provided throughout the OTED process to help you meet educational standards that were not met after the initial review process.
- You must fulfill ALL eligibility standards
Refer to the Certification Eligibility Requirements for International Students under the International Students tab for information about the OTED process
If you did not earn your entry-level master’s/doctoral degree in occupational therapy from a U.S.-accredited college/university, you must apply for the Occupational Therapist Eligibility Determination (OTED®) process. The OTED process will determine if your completed education, including fieldwork, meets the eligibility requirements to apply for the OTR certification exam. Education and fieldwork must be deemed comparable to current U.S. entry-level educational standards.
To apply for OTED:
- Complete the online application
- Provide documentation demonstrating compliance with all eligibility criteria
- Pay the $700 (USD) application fee (Effective January 2, 2018, the OTED application fee will be $850 USD).
Once you are approved through the OTED process, you are eligible to apply for the OTR certification exam.
Inquiries related to the OTED process should be directed to email@example.com.
To be eligible to apply for OTED, you must meet all fieldwork requirements AND have:
- An entry-level master's degree in occupational therapy, or
- A bachelor's degree in occupational therapy with a post-professional master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy.
Additional coursework may be needed to satisfy requirements.
Please note: Earning a post-professional master's/doctoral degree in occupational therapy in the U.S. does NOT guarantee OTED approval. OTED approvals are based on the educational comparability review of your combined education.
You must provide the following documentation for the OTED review:
- National Government Recognition documentation (if applicable)
- Official final transcript(s)
- Verification of Academic Credential Form (if applicable)
- Course syllabi reflecting content taught at the time you completed the coursework
- Program Director Form
Online OTED Application
You can use the online OTED application to submit your application, check on your application's status, correspond with NBCOT about your application, and upload documentation.
The online system includes two categories of OTED applicants:
- New applicants: If you are a new applicant with a master's degree in occupational therapy, create an account by clicking the "Register as an Applicant" button.
- Existing applicants: If you have applied and received a deficiency determination, sign in to your account by entering an email address and password.
NBCOT has created a series of instructional videos and guides for each of these groups.
OTED Initial Application Instructional Video
OTED Additional Review Video
Learn more about an upcoming NBCOT policy that pertains to eligibility for individuals convicted of serious crimes.
Be Prepared for Your Certification
An effective study plan is the first step toward success.
Get your study tools from the source
All study tools are designed using the validated domain, task, and knowledge statements on which the OTR and COTA certification exams are based.
Not sure which tools to use? With NBCOT's study packages, you get a combination of tools, each providing a different way to learn and study. If you prefer, you can also purchase study tools individually.
Know the Content
Review the Exam Outline and take the Self-Assessment to gauge your knowledge before you begin to study.
Use the Knowledge Match Game, Flashcards, Study Guide, and Practice Tests to test your progress.
The purpose of the NBCOT certification exam is to protect the public interest by certifying only those candidates who have the necessary knowledge of occupational therapy to practice.
The OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST REGISTERED (OTR®) and CERTIFIED OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT (COTA®) exams are constructed to measure entry-level competence of students who have met eligibility requirements for certification of the respective credential.
For more information about exam development and administration, please refer to the Certification Exam Handbook.
Ready to apply for the certification exam? Please follow the steps below:
- Read the Certification Exam Handbook.
- Create or log in to your MyNBCOT account.
- Complete the online exam application and pay the $515 fee.*
- Have your school registrar submit an official final transcript or Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF).
- Submitting a transcript/ACVF before applying for the exam will delay your application.
*To apply with a paper application, download here. The fee is $555. Processing times increase when submitting a paper application.
After applying for the exam, please submit an official final college/university transcript OR an Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF).
If you submit a transcript, it must include the date of graduation and degree title.
If you submit an ACVF:
- Associate or master's degree students: Submit the ACVF within six months of your anticipated graduation date.
- Doctoral degree students: Submit the ACVF within one year of your anticipated graduation date.
- If you submit an ACVF, your exam pass/fail status will not be released until NBCOT receives an official final transcript from your college/university.
For additional requirements and information on how to submit a transcript/ACVF, please refer to the Certification Exam Handbook.
Are You Ready to Apply?
Be sure to review the Certification Exam Handbook before you apply. The online exam application allows you to apply for the exam and check the status of your application.Apply Online
Schedule Your Exam
You can schedule your testing appointment directly with Prometric AFTER you receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) letter.
After your application is approved, you will receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) letter via email (check both inbox and junk/spam box) and in your MyNBCOT account. The ATT letter authorizes you to schedule and take the certification exam.
Your ATT letter will include:
- Details on how to schedule the exam directly with Prometric. (If you have been approved for testing accommodations, the ATT letter will contain instructions on how to proceed.)
- Information on how to reschedule or cancel an exam, if necessary.
- Prometric's contact information.
Please note: NBCOT cannot schedule or confirm individual exam appointments.
Exam scores are scheduled to be released on the dates indicated on the calendar. Scores are located in your MyNBCOT account.
Score release dates are subject to change without notice.
NBCOT aims to make exam results available on the scheduled score release date; however, there may be unforeseen circumstances when this is not possible. In these circumstances, scores will be posted as soon as possible.
If you want your exam result on a specific scoring date, you MUST take the exam a minimum of three days prior to the desired score release date.
If you are approved to test on an ACVF:
- Your score will be held until NBCOT receives an official final transcript.
- Your score will be released within 24-48 business hours of NBCOT approving your official final transcript.
- Your score will be released to the state licensing board(s) of your choosing within 24-48 business hours of NBCOT approving your official final transcript.
Holiday Test & Service Schedule
2017 Year-end Holiday Scoring Schedule:
Due to annual system maintenance, there will be an examination blackout period December 18, 2017 – January 1, 2018. Candidates will not be able to schedule or take the examination during this time.
The last day to take the NBCOT examination in 2017 is December 17. Testing will resume on January 2, 2018.
To guarantee that an ATT letter is issued before NBCOT’s office closes for the holidays, candidates must complete their application and send payment and an official final transcript or ACVF to NBCOT by December 18.
Take the Exam
You have 4 hours to take the exam, but plan on being at the test center for 5 hours and 15 minutes to complete all administrative requirements. For more information about the exam day, please review the Exam Day Q&A section in the Certification Exam Handbook.
These tutorials demonstrate the functionality of the exams in the computer-based testing environment. The timer clock for the online tutorial is presented for illustration purposes only. On exam day at the Prometric test center, the clock will indicate the time you have remaining for the tutorial. The time allotted for the tutorial is separate from the actual exam time.
View the COTA Exam Tutorial
View the OTR Exam Tutorial
Note: During the actual OTR exam, the tutorial is presented in two distinct sections. The first tutorial is presented at the start of the clinical simulation section of the exam and the second tutorial is presented at the start of the multiple-choice section of the exam.
After you take the exam, it will be scored by NBCOT according to the scoring calendar. Once your score is released, you can view it in your MyNBCOT account.
If you pass the exam, you will receive:
- A congratulatory letter that includes your overall score.
- An official NBCOT certificate and wallet card.
- Information regarding your NBCOT benefits.
These documents will be mailed to you within four to six weeks after your exam is scored.
If you do not pass the exam, you can access your performance feedback report in your MyNBCOT account. It will include:
- The overall score.
- Feedback on domain-level performance.
- An explanation for interpreting your overall score and domain-level performance.
- FAQ about the feedback on your report.
- Passing the NBCOT certification exam is different from applying for state licensure. Sending a score report to a state regulatory board does not automatically initiate the process to obtain a license or permit to work in that state. Certification by NBCOT is independent, different, and separate from any state or jurisdiction's law/licensure.
- All jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have some form of regulation of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. Before you begin practicing in any state or comparable jurisdiction, you must meet all the requirements of that jurisdiction. To practice without a license or permit is against the law.
- Contact your state regulatory board to obtain details on licensure requirements.
Administrative or Technical Complaints
If you experience an administrative or technical issue during the exam, you may file a complaint.
Please refer to the Exam Day Q&A in the Certification Exam Handbook for detailed information.
You may challenge your exam result, but failing the exam alone is not sufficient grounds for a challenge.
You may retake the certification exam after a failing score by selecting the Reapply button in your MyNBCOT account. Do not create a new account. You will be charged a fee for creating a duplicate account.
Refer to the Certification Exam Handbook for more information about retaking the exam.
Information on the exam format and scoring.