What Does an Occupational Therapist do?

A school-based occupational therapist is a highly specialized professional who works within an educational setting to support students’ development and success. Their primary role is to assess and address the unique needs of students who may face physical, sensory, cognitive, or emotional challenges that impact their ability to participate effectively in academics, play and leisure, social participation, self-care skills (ADLs or activities of daily living), and transition/ work skills.

School-based occupational therapists collaborate with teachers, parents, and other professionals to create individualized plans and interventions aimed at improving students’ fine motor skills, sensory processing, attention, and overall independence. By providing tailored support, they help students overcome barriers and achieve their educational goals, ultimately promoting inclusion and enhancing the overall learning experience in schools.

Occupational Therapist Jobs

How to Start Your Occupational Therapist Journey

To join this amazing group of occupational therapists you need:

Associations to Support You


Earn a bachelor’s degree in any of the following areas:

  • Biology.
  • Psychology.
  • Kinesiology.
  • Health Sciences.

Note: Regardless of your major, you will need to complete specific prerequisite courses to apply for Occupational Therapy graduate programs, including biology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology, and statistics. 



  • Occupational therapy programs include 6 months of supervised fieldwork, where you will get to work hands-on, working with patients in different settings. 


Earn a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy (MOT).

  • Apply to an accredited Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program.  



  • Take and pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). 
  • After passing the NBCOT, apply for licensure in Michigan through the Michigan Board of Occupational Therapy.


It is required to serve at least 6 months in an occupational therapy clinic under the direct supervision of a licensed occupational therapist before you can recieve your OT license.

Must score in at least the 70th percentile.

  • Submit a signed and completed application.
  • Provide a check or money order for $90 license fee.
  • Request transcripts from all attended colleges or universities.
  • Forward score reports from your NBCOT exams.
  • Request verification of licensure from past states in which you have practiced.
  • Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check.

Scholarships & Grants

Ensures all eligible Detroit residents have a tuition-free path to a degree. The student should check with the school to ensure their degree is pell-eligible. This scholarship cannot cover programs that are not Pell-eligible. Detroit Promise funding is not competitive; every student who registers and meets the requirements will receive funding if their college determines they have an eligible funding gap.

Need help paying for college? Fill out the FAFSA – Federal Student Aid – form each year in October, and you may qualify for loans to help cover college tuition.

Free College Opportunities

Options for high school students include dual enrollment & early middle college.

Dual Enrollment Allows students to earn college credit (up to 10 courses) while in High School at no cost between 9th-12th grade. The classes that students are eligible for must not be offered by the high school or PSA and must lead towards postsecondary credit, accreditation, certification, and/or licensing. 

How to apply – Students are to talk with their high school advisor on eligibility, application, deadlines, and college course options.

Early Middle College (EMC) is a Michigan Department of Education approved five-year program of study.

EMCs work closely with certain colleges to provide students with an opportunity earn a high school diploma and one or more of the following:

  • 60 transferable college credits.
  • An associate degree.
  • A professional certification.
  • The Michigan Early Middle College Association (MEMCA) technical certificate.
  • Participation in a registered apprenticeship.

Michigan List of EMC’s

Volunteer to Gain More Experience!

Get hands-on experience and find a classroom near you that is in need of a volunteer!

Job Shadowing

To participate in a job shadow, reach out to a school district and request to job shadow a occupational therapist for a day.

Each school district has their own policy when it comes to job shadowing, but you may need a state ID or a driver’s license to participate.

College Program Information

Click a point on the map to find degree programs, scholarships, grants, and organizations to join!

In a circular frame: A young white woman with short red hair and glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a blue cardigan and a necklace, and is speaking.

Occupational Therapist Story Tellers

Below are videos highlighting Occupational Therapist throughout Michigan.
Find out why they love the profession.

Sign Language’s Impact in Classrooms

Mona Shores Public Schools

Lydia Hansen shares her love for this exciting career and the benefits it brings to her own life and to the children in the classroom.

join the success

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from Michigan Sign Language Interpreters

A young white woman with short red hair and glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a blue cardigan and a necklace, and is speaking. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Lydia Hansen".

Questions About Your Educator Journey?