Career Map: Occupational Therapist
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This document was updated in December 2012. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario before you complete your application.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario. This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the career map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this career map requires a written license from the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.
Occupational therapists in Ontario are regulated by the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (the College). You cannot call yourself an occupational therapist or hold yourself out to be an occupational therapist unless you are registered with the College.
Occupational therapists are health care professionals who assist individuals to develop or maintain life roles and activities at home, in the community and at the workplace when they are experiencing difficulties in functioning on their own because of accident, disability, emotional problems, developmental difficulties or disease. Occupational therapists use a variety of assessment and treatment techniques. Their work may include training clients in daily living activity and community life skills; prescribing specialised equipment; evaluating and modifying home, work or school environments; and education and counselling.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, community agencies, private homes, and vocational evaluation/training centres. Many occupational therapists also have their own private practice.
Registration Requirements in Ontario
To practise occupational therapy in Ontario, you must be a registered member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (the College). All applicants applying for registration must meet the following requirements:
- Be legally entitled to work in Canada
- Be a graduate from an occupational therapy program from a school, college or university approved by the College
- Meet the current practice hours required by the College
- Meet the good conduct requirement of the College
- Pass the examination approved by the College (see Step 3 below)
- Be fluent in English or French
- Have College-approved professional liability insurance which includes a sexual abuse therapy and counselling fund endorsement
Registration Application Process
Step 1 – Proof of English or French Language Fluency
If you completed your occupational therapy education in English or French, you do not need to provide proof of language fluency as your language of instruction will be verified on your credential evaluation report (see Step 2 for details). Otherwise, you must get an acceptable score on a standardised English or French fluency test (both written and spoken) that is recognised in Canada and approved by the College. You must have your results sent directly to the College by the testing agency. Please refer to the table below for a list of the language tests and minimum scores the College accepts. Please note that this information may change over time. For the most up to date requirements, please see the Language Fluency Policy (8-80) on the College website at www.coto.org > Registration > Registration Policies.
|1) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)||Speaking
|2) International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS)||Speaking
Step 2 - Send Application Documents to the College
Contact the College for the Registration Application Form or print it from the website at www.coto.org > Registration > Internationally Educated. Complete this form and pay the applicable fees. Fees are listed at the end of this document and on the College website. You will also need to send the following information with your application:
- Photocopy of your legal work status document (e.g. Canadian Citizenship, Canadian Passport, Canadian Birth Certificate, Record of Landing, Permanent Resident Card or work authorization permit)
- Photocopy of your occupational therapy program transcript
- A document-by-document credential evaluation report sent directly from World Education Services (WES) to the College. This is a requirement for all applicants who have obtained their occupational therapy qualification outside of Canada. WES contact information is listed at the end of this document.
- If you completed your education and fieldwork more than 18 months before applying for registration, you must provide evidence that you have completed one of the following:
- 600 hours of professional practice within the last 3 years
- A College-approved refresher program within the last 18 months
- Current registration in another Canadian jurisdiction (applying under the Labour Mobility Support Agreement)
- Evidence that you have obtained College-approved professional liability insurance that includes a sexual abuse therapy and counselling fund endorsement. The insurance programs offered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) or the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT) have been approved by the College.
- A completed Employer Acknowledgement Form (if applying for a Provisional Practising Certificate of Registration), the Employer Acknowledgement Form is available on the College website at www.coto.org > Registration > Internationally Educated
- Confirmation that you have passed the CAOT National Certification Examination (if applying for a General Practising Certificate) or confirmation that you have registered to take the CAOT National Certification Examination (if applying for a Provisional Practising Certificate)
- Regulatory History Forms must be completed and forwarded directly to the College from every jurisdiction in which you have held an occupational therapy license or registration. The Regulatory History Form is available on the College website at www.coto.org > Registration > Internationally Educated. Please note that some regulatory authorities may charge a fee for this service.
If you do not yet meet all of the above requirements, you can still start the application process by submitting your Registration Application Form, application fee, academic documents, and any other documentation available at the time of submission. All Registration Application Forms sent to the College are valid for a period of one year.
If your academic program has not yet been approved as substantially equivalent by the College, you will be asked to submit further information so that the Registration Committee can complete an Academic Equivalency Review. You will be informed if this is required once the Registration Application Form, application fee, and credential evaluation report have been received and reviewed. In these situations, the College will notify you of specific requirements and fees. Through the Academic Equivalency Review process, the Registration Committee of the College has previously reviewed and approved a number of university occupational therapy programs outside of Canada.
Upon request, the College is able to send confirmation to the CAOT that you meet our academic equivalency requirement so you may apply to write the National Certification Examination.
Provisional Practising Certificate of Registration
While you are waiting to write the CAOT National Certification Examination, the College may grant you a Provisional Practising Certificate of Registration. This certificate will allow you to practise as an occupational therapist with the conditions that you practise under the supervision of a General Practising occupational therapist, and that you write the CAOT National Certification Examination from your date of registration. Please refer to the pamphlet, Provisional Practising Certificate of Registration – Responsibilities and Requirements found on the College website at www.coto.org > Registration > Internationally Educated.
Step 3 - Take the CAOT National Certification Examination
All applicants who want to become registered as occupational therapists in Ontario must pass the National Certification Examination administered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). You will need to contact the CAOT to take this exam. Their address and telephone number are listed at the end of this document.
The examination is four hours long. It includes questions that test your knowledge of specific areas of Canadian occupational therapy practice and theory. The examination is offered twice a year, in July and November. The CAOT will be able to provide you with all other relevant information regarding the exam.
The College strongly encourages all internationally educated applicants to participate in the Occupational Therapy Examination and Practice Preparation (OTepp) Program. This program was developed to assist internationally educated occupational therapists as they seek to transition into practice in Canada. The project is led by the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University in partnership with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). For more information, please visit the OTepp website at www.otepp.ca.
Currency - Refresher Program
If you do not meet the currency hours required for registration (current practice experience), you will be required to complete a College-approved refresher program, or have their application reviewed by a Panel of the Registration Committee, prior to being eligible for a Certificate of Registration. When you apply, you will need to provide a detailed account of your occupational therapy experience for the past 10 years, including dates of employment, hours worked per week, volunteer work and/or continuing education courses completed within the scope of the profession.
The required number of hours for the refresher program is determined by the College for each individual applicant. Please refer to the Currency Policy (8-40) at www.coto.org > Registration > Registration Polices for a summary of possible outcomes. For more information on the placement component of the refresher program, please refer to the Practice Supervisor Information Package at www.coto.org > Registration > Internationally Educated.
The Occupational Therapy Examination and Practice Preparation (OTepp) Project has been approved as a possible component of the refresher program. Upon successful completion of the full OTepp Certificate Program, the College will credit hours completed towards the hours required for the refresher program. For more information please visit www.otepp.
Requests for Review
Applicants who do not meet the registration requirements as specified may request a review by the Registration Committee of the College. Decisions of the Registration Committee may be appealed to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB). The contact information for HPARB is listed at the end of this document.
Labour Market Information
Areas of employment include health care, educational institutions, social agencies, private businesses and industry. Job growth may be found in the area of home based care. For information about working conditions, wages and job descriptions for occupational therapists, visit the Ontario Job Futures website at www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/labourmarket/ojf/index.html. You will find additional resources at the Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) website at www.hrsdc.gc.ca. This information is also available at public libraries or HRSDC Employment Resource Centres in Ontario.
The Internationally Educated Occupational Therapists (IEOT) portal at www.gocanadaot.com may also be of assistance to you. It was created to provide internationally educated occupational therapists with a gateway to information about the practice of occupational therapy in Canada.
Please visit HealthForceOntario for valuable information on living and working in Ontario and on the health professions in Ontario. The Access Centre of HealthForceOntario provides a number of services including help for internationally educated health professionals seeking information, advice, and support on their path to professional practice in Ontario.
The Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO) is the national organization of occupational therapy regulators in Canada. Their website at http://acotro-acore.org/ may be useful to you. ACOTRO’s goal is to promote consistency and excellence in regulating occupational therapy across Canada. ACOTRO also provides guidance and information to occupational therapists seeking information on how to register in Canada.
The professional associations for occupational therapy may also provide assistance. You may visit the websites of OSOT and CAOT at www.osot.on.ca and www.caot.ca to access a list of current job opportunities.
Current Fees -- 2012College Fees (in Canadian dollars)
|Initial Registration Application Fee||$226.00
|Registration Fee (pro-rated quarterly)||$743.03
|Annual Registration Renewal Fee||$743.03
|Academic Equivalency Review Fee||$169.50
|WES Credential Evaluation Report||$140
|CAOT National Certification Exam||$500
For More Information
For further information about applying to register as an occupational therapist in Ontario, please contact:
Manager, Registration College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO)
20 Bay Street, Suite 900, PO Box 78
Toronto, ON M5J 2N8
Tel: 416-214-1177, ext. 254
Toll Free: 1-800-890-6570 (North America)
For information on obtaining a credential evaluation report of your occupational therapy program, please contact:
For information on the CAOT National Certification Exam, please contact:
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)
3400-1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa , ON K1S 5R1
Toll Free: 1-800-434-2268 (North America)
For information on the provincial professional association, please contact:
Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT)
55 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 210
Toronto, ON M4N 1G8
Toll Free: 1-877-676-6768
For information on appealing a registration decision from the College, please contact:
Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB)
151 Bloor Street West, 9th Floor
Toronto, ON M5S 1S4
Toll Free: 1-866-282-2179
For a government contact about accessing health professions in Ontario, please contact:
163 Queen Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5A 1S1
Toll Free: 1-800-596-4046 (North America) or 1-800-596-4046, ext. 4 (International)
For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario, please contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Toronto, ON M4R 1A3
TTY: 416-322-1498 Fax: 416-322-8084
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario,© 2012
Additional Contact Information
For TOEFL English language proficiency testing:
For CanTEST English/French language proficiency testing:
For a government contact about accessing professions and trades in Ontario:
Government of Ontario
Labour Market Integration Unit
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
400 University Avenue, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2R9
Government of Ontario
Global Experience Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Toll Free: 1-866-670-4094
For Canadian labour market trends:
For information on certified translation services:
Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC)
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1202
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO)
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1202
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Tel: 613-241-2846 or 1-800-234-5030
For information on English language and French language classes in your community in Ontario, visit Learn English or French - Language Training.
For information on cities and towns in Ontario, visit the Living in Ontario - Cities in Ontario.
Find information about bridge-to-work training programs. Bridge training programs can help internationally educated professionals in the accounting sector gain the knowledge and information required to practice in Ontario.