• What is the relationship between AOTA and NCOTA?


AOTA is the national OT organization and NCOTA is a state OT organization. NCOTA is separately incorporated, but is a state affiliate of AOTA, meaning we have a close connection, are able to share resources and discuss advocacy needs and options together. State Associations advance the profession at the state level through advocacy, professional development, and networking.

  • What is Occupational Therapy?


Occupational Therapy helps people of all ages participate in the things they want or need to do in their lives (i.e., occupations). These may include things like making meals, dressing, managing medications, driving, going to school or work, playing, or caring for others. Occupational Therapy addresses the physical, psychological, and cognitive aspects of a person’s well-being and improves function through engagement in everyday activities.


The goal of occupational therapy is to support participation and performance in daily occupations.

Occupational Therapy Practitioners do this by teaching the person the skills to do the occupation, modifying or changing the occupation itself, and/or adapting the environment to support performance of the occupation.


The practice of OT includes:

  • Restoration of a skill or ability that has not yet developed or is impaired
  • Modification of an activity or environment to enhance performance and independence
  • Assisting in developing habits and routines to foster a sense of purpose and support a wellness lifestyle
  • Improving community participation through skills training, real life practice and connection with community- based supports
  • Teaching and supporting coping strategies
  • Training of communication and social skills


  • What is the required education and training to become an occupational therapy practitioner?


The occupational therapist must graduate from an accredited program and complete a minimum of 6 months of supervised clinical experience.

The occupational therapy assistant completes an accredited program and at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience.

Following the completion of course and clinical work, the therapist or assistant must pass a national certification examination to become a designated occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. In addition, states regulate occupational therapy through licensure and continuing educational requirements.  Foreign educated practitioners applying to work as an occupational therapist in the United States should contact [email protected]  for eligibility requirements. You may visit www.acoteonline.org to determine if your desired program is ACOTE-accredited.

  • Does NCOTA issue licenses for OTRs and COTAs?


No. Occupational therapy licenses are issued by the North Carolina Board of Occupational Therapy (NCBOT). All OT professionals must be licensed to practice in North Carolina. For further information about obtaining or renewing (or any information about licensure) in NC, contact NCBOT (https://www.ncbot.org/otpages/Application_Process.html)


  • I want to shadow OT practitioners prior to applying to OT school? How do I do this?


NCOTA does not offer shadowing opportunities or facilitate connections between potential students and clinical sites. We recommend you consider your areas of interest and/or knowledge gaps related to occupational therapy practice. Reach out to settings you are curious about and ask to shadow an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. A list of common OT practice settings and ‘not so common’ options are listed below for guidance:

  • Local hospitals (acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, psychiatry)
  • Outpatient clinics (hand, orthopedics, low vision, pediatric/sensory settings)
  • Schools
  • Home health companies
  • Adult day health centers (geriatrics experience)
  • Departments on Aging
  • Eating Disorders clinics
  • And many more…


  • How do I find a specialist in a certain area of practice?


NC is proud to host an array of specialized practitioners and leaders in the field of occupational therapy. NCOTA has recently launched a mentorship program with the goal of bringing leaders in our field together to share knowledge and experience and support one another as we expand the OT profession. This may be one avenue for connecting with specialists in a certain field. Please see the mentorship tab for more information. Otherwise, we recommend you contact the specific Special Interest Section (SIS) most related to your area of need. The co-chairs for that area may be able to assist you with connecting with a specialist in their network.


If your question was not answered here, please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected].