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Can I Be an Occupational Therapist with a Psychology Degree?

Can I Be an Occupational Therapist with a Psychology Degree?

Are you interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapist (OT) but you have a degree in psychology? You may wonder if your qualification is relevant to the field of occupational therapy. Fortunately, you have options. This article will explore the possibility of becoming an occupational therapist with a psychology degree.

Understanding the Differences Between Psychology and Occupational Therapy

Before we delve into the details of how you can become an OT with a psychology degree, let’s first take a look at the fundamental differences between psychology and occupational therapy.

Psychology is the science of the human mind and behavior, focusing on understanding how people think, feel, and act. In contrast, occupational therapy is a health profession that focuses on helping people with injuries, disabilities, and illnesses to perform everyday activities.

Occupational therapists work with individuals across the lifespan, from children with developmental difficulties to older adults with Alzheimer’s, in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, and community-based programs. They use evidence-based interventions to help clients achieve their goals, which may include improving physical and cognitive abilities, increasing independence, and enhancing overall quality of life.

Requirements for Practicing as an Occupational Therapist

To become an occupational therapist, you must first earn a master’s degree from an accredited program. Once you have earned your degree, you will need to pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to obtain your OT license. Additionally, you will be required to meet the state-specific licensing requirements where you will practice.

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However, if you have a psychology degree, you may not have completed the necessary coursework required to be eligible for a master’s program in occupational therapy. That being the case, you may need to return to school to fulfill the necessary prerequisites.

Transitioning from Psychology to Occupational Therapy

If you want to pursue a career as an occupational therapist with a psychology degree, transitioning may seem challenging, but it is possible. First, you need to identify the prerequisites required for entry into an occupational therapy master’s program. This can include courses in anatomy, physiology, physics, and statistics, among others.

You can take these classes at a local college or university over a period of time. Alternatively, you can consider enrolling in an occupational therapy bridge program that offers a shorter and more convenient path to become an occupational therapist. Bridge programs are designed to help professionals who have already earned a degree in a related field, in this case, psychology, to complete the prerequisites required for entry into an occupational therapy master’s program.

Advantages of Having a Psychology Degree in Occupational Therapy

Having a degree in psychology can be an asset when pursuing a career in occupational therapy. It provides you with a wealth of knowledge in understanding human behavior, which can be beneficial when working with clients with mental health conditions.

Additionally, the skills you acquired as a psychology major, such as critical thinking, data analysis, and research methods, can enable you to develop innovative and effective treatment plans that help clients achieve their goals.


In conclusion, if you have a psychology degree and you want to become an occupational therapist, transitioning to the field may seem daunting. However, with dedication and a little bit of hard work, it is possible to pursue this rewarding career. Whether you decide to take prerequisite courses or enroll in an occupational therapy bridge program, there are options available to you that can help you achieve your career goals. And remember, your background in psychology can be a great strength when working with clients in occupational therapy.

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