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.
Study with Aspire
Use the Aspire study tools to prepare for your exam.
Receive notifications on the latest NBCOT news and update your information.
To be eligible to take the NBCOT certification exam, you must have obtained an occupational therapy degree that meets current entry-level degree requirements.
- OTR candidates must graduate with an entry-level occupational therapy degree from an ACOTE®-accredited occupational therapy (OT) program.
- COTA candidates must graduate with an entry-level occupational therapy degree from an ACOTE®-accredited occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program.
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 $850 (USD) fee.
Once you are approved through the OTED process, you are eligible to apply for the OTR certification exam (please review the exam retake policy, effective January 2020).
All OTED approvals are valid for 7 years from the date of approval.
Inquiries related to the OTED process should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
- Verification of OT License, Registration, or Certification Form
- Professional Practice History 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
Ready to Apply for OTED?
Please be sure you have reviewed all of the above information before proceeding. There is an $850 (USD) application fee.Apply for OTED
Be Prepared for Your Certification
An effective study plan is the first step toward success.
NBCOT's Aspire 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 the NBCOT Exam StudyPack, you get a comprehensive set of tools with each providing a different way to learn and study. If you prefer, you can also purchase specific study tools individually.
Get Familiar with the Content
Review the Exam Outline, the Illustrated Guide to Entry-Level Practice, and take the self-assessment to gauge your knowledge before you begin to study.
Use the NBCOT Exam StudyPack, 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.*
- Exam applications are valid for three months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exam applications will be now be valid for six months.
- Have your school registrar submit an official final transcript or Interim Degree Verification Form (IDVF).
- Hard copy transcripts must be mailed to NBCOT via USPS. Electronic transcripts must be sent using a secure and verifiable transcript service or clearing house.
- Submitting a transcript/IDVF 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 Interim Degree Verification Form (IDVF).
If you submit a transcript, it must include the degree date and degree title. The degree must have been awarded.
If you submit an IDVF:
- Associate, baccalaureate, or master's degree students: Submit the IDVF within six months of your anticipated graduation date.
- Doctoral degree students: Submit the IDVF within one year of your anticipated graduation date.
- If you submit an IDVF, your exam pass/fail status will not be released until NBCOT receives an official final transcript from your college/university confirming your degree date and degree title. The degree must have been awarded.
Transcripts with a graduation date that is after the transcript issue date will not be accepted. For additional requirements and information on how to submit a transcript/IDVF, please refer to the Certification Exam Handbook.
New Degree Verification Policy to Become Effective January 1, 2021
Students enrolled in an ACOTE-accredited occupational therapy education program and scheduled to graduate with an associate, baccalaureate, entry-level master’s, or entry-level doctoral degree may request that their university or college registrar submit a Degree Verification Form (DVF), within six (6) months of the their anticipated graduation date, on their behalf if they have successfully completed all degree and graduation requirements, including occupational therapy education, Level I and Level II Fieldwork, and, for OTD students, the doctoral capstone experience and project. The form may only be used within the same calendar year as the student’s anticipated graduation date. Please note that the student’s pass/fail status will not be released until NBCOT has received an official final transcript from the university/college from which the student graduated that confirms their degree date and degree title.
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
Helping a Friend or Cheating? NBCOT Explains.
Please watch this very important video on cheating as you prepare for the certification exam. Protect yourself and the integrity of the credential and the profession.
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.
Please take note of the NBCOT holiday schedule below, which lists office closing and system maintenance dates.
- NBCOT will be closed December 23, 2020 – January 3, 2021.
- The office will reopen for business on January 4, 2021.
- The final score release of 2020 is scheduled to be posted on December 22, 2020.
- Candidates must take the exam by or on December 19, 2020, to be included in the final 2020 score release.
In addition, due to annual maintenance updates, there will be an exam blackout period December 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021. Candidates will not be able to schedule or take the exam during this time. The last day to take the NBCOT exam in 2020 is December 19, 2020. Testing will resume on January 4, 2021.
Please also note, in order to guarantee issuance of an ATT letter before the NBCOT office closes for the holidays, a candidate's application must be complete, including receipt of payment and an official final transcript or ACVF, by Friday, December 18, 2020.
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.
There is a waiting period after the last exam date before you may test again. Refer to the Certification Exam Handbook for more information about retaking the exam.
Information on the exam format and scoring.
1 These are temporary measures intended to assist those affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. NBCOT will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and will determine how long the change in the policies will remain in place and whether any adjustments to the changes are required going forward. (April 22, 2020)