Initial certification is just the beginning of your professional journey with NBCOT. Underpinning our mission to serve the public interest, it is our belief that certification is a lifelong tool for the continuous professional development of the certified occupational therapy practitioner. We are a resource for your professional development throughout your career, offering you the tools you need to advance your competence and prepare for new professional challenges. Certification renewal recognizes that the OTR® or COTA® has met a national standard for professionalism and promotes continued professional development. We believe that continually supporting your practice has long-term benefits for all stakeholders. The certification renewal requirement and tools were developed using NBCOT’s certification renewal practice analysis study, with input from key stakeholder groups, including practitioners, employers, and regulators.
NBCOT certification is granted for a three-year period. If you complete all of the certification renewal requirements by your scheduled renewal date, you will be granted Active in Good Standing certification status for another three-year period.
Renewal season occurs between January and March annually, regardless of your initial certification date. If you do not renew by your scheduled renewal date, your status will change to Inactive. If your status is Inactive, you cannot use your OTR or COTA credential.
To renew your Active in Good Standing certification, please follow the steps below:
- Read the Certification Renewal Handbook.
- Earn 36 units during your three-year renewal cycle. Accepted activities are listed on the Certification Renewal Activities Chart. You have the option to keep track of units you have earned with the Renewal Log.
- Read and agree to abide by the NBCOT Certificant Attestation.
- Complete the renewal application via your MyNBCOT account and pay the $65 fee.
- If you renew using the paper application ($75 fee), it will take 10-15 business days before your certification status is updated.
If you did not renew your certification within your renewal year, you must apply for reinstatement and be approved prior to using your OTR or COTA credential. Please refer to the Reinstatement Process section for more information.
For information about retiring your certification, please refer to the Retired in Good Standing section.
- You should receive your certificate and wallet card in the mail three to four weeks after your application is processed.
- If you do not receive your certificate, contact NBCOT within two months of renewing to be reissued a certificate at no cost.
For information on the current reinstatement process, please review the Certification Renewal Handbook.
Beginning January 1, 2021, the reinstatement policy will change, affecting all expired certificants. If an individual allows their certification to expire, they must follow the steps below to reinstate their certification with NBCOT.
Within one expired cycle, an individual must complete the following steps to reinstate their certification with NBCOT:
- Attain at least 30 units within the last three years from any category listed under the Professional Development Activities section of the NBCOT Certification Renewal Activities Chart.
- Complete the General Practice Self-Assessment and print off the score report page.
- Submit the completed Reinstatement of Certification Renewal Application and reinstatement chart, the Self-Assessment score page, copies of verification documentation that support the activities listed on the chart, and the fee of $125.
- After the application, documentation, and payment have been received, NBCOT will grant access to the NBCOT Navigator®.
- Complete six competency assessment units (CAUs) through Navigator.
- Once the six CAUs have been completed, the application will be reviewed.
Outside one or more expired cycles*, an individual must complete the following steps to reinstate their certification with NBCOT:
- Attain at least 12 units from categories 14, 15, and/or 17 on the Certification Renewal Activities Chart.
- Attain at least 12 units from any of the categories listed under the Professional Development Activities section on the Certification Renewal Activities Chart.
- Submit the completed Reinstatement of Certification Renewal Application and reinstatement chart, copies of verification documentation that support the activities listed on the chart, and the fee of $175.
- After the application, documentation, and payment have been received, NBCOT will grant access to the NBCOT Navigator®.
- Complete 12 competency assessment units (CAUs) through Navigator.
- Once the 12 CAUs have been completed, the application will be reviewed.
*Beginning January 1, 2027, any individual who has allowed their certification to lapse for three or more cycles must complete the following steps to reinstate their certification with NBCOT:
- Submit a completed Reinstatement of Certification Examination application and the fee of $515.
- Undergo a background check.
- Pass the current entry-level NBCOT certification exam.
Practice Area of Emphasis
During the renewal process, you can opt to include a Practice Area of Emphasis (PAE) on your certificate.
The PAE designation recognizes you have completed at least 24 units of your professional development in a specific practice area during your renewal cycle. Please note, recording a Practice Area of Emphasis on the certificate does not connote a specialty certification or advanced practitioner certification.
The Certification Renewal Activities Chart identifies ways to earn Competency Assessment Units (CAU) and Professional Development Units (PDU) toward certification renewal.
Use the Renewal Log to:
- Enter and track your renewal units
- Upload course verification documents
- Gauge units earned for your next renewal period
Plus, the units you earn through NBCOT Navigator® are automatically added to your log.
Start adding your units today in your MyNBCOT account.
Our provider registry provides certificants the ability to search for professional development activities in a variety of formats. You are able to filter your search by course format, practice area, and course level or strength. Sign up for a course today to continue to expand your OT knowledge.
Retiring in good standing from NBCOT allows you to use "OTR, Retired" or "COTA, Retired" after your name. It is the perfect end to a great career.
Log in to your MyNBCOT account and click on the Certification tab to request your Active in Good Standing status to be changed to Retired in Good Standing. You may only request Retired in Good Standing status while your certification is active.
In order to protect the public, certificants and exam applicants must abide by the Practice Standards and Code of Conduct. Certificants must disclose any criminal, legal, or other disciplinary matters within 60 days of such matter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who violate the Code of Conduct are subject to the Procedures for the Enforcement of the NBCOT Code of Conduct.
When renewing certification, certificants must agree to abide by the NBCOT Certificant Attestation.
The NBCOT Code of Conduct enables NBCOT to define and clarify the professional responsibilities for present and future NBCOT certificants. In order to earn and maintain the confidence and respect of recipients of occupational therapy, colleagues, employers, students, and the public, it is vital that NBCOT certificants act in a professional manner consistent with the Practice Standards and responsibilities set forth in the Code of Conduct.
The NBCOT Practice Standards provide guidelines that can help certificants determine what they should and should not do when providing services to clients. These Standards represent the expectations of NBCOT and may be used to evaluate performance for ongoing professional development and/or disciplinary action.
The Procedures for the Enforcement of the NBCOT Code of Conduct enable NBCOT to protect the rights of certificants and exam applicants who have violated the Code, and to act fairly in the performance of its responsibilities as a certifying agency to the public.
NBCOT has jurisdiction over all:
- Individuals who have been certified as an OTR® or COTA®
- Individuals who have applied for certification
- Individuals who have applied for OTED®
- Individuals who have applied for Early Determination Review
This summary is a national resource for consumers of occupational therapy services, the general public, regulatory agencies, and employers.
In today's digital world, where we share everything online, NBCOT offers digital badges in addition to paper certificates for OTR and COTA certificants to define and publicize their credentials.
What is an NBCOT digital badge?
Digital badges are dynamic icons that contain certification data specific to the OTR or COTA certificant. They represent a new online standard to verify learning and professional growth and accomplishments across digital and social networks.
Who can access NBCOT digital badges?
Badges are awarded when you do one or more of the following:
- Pass your certification exam
- Renew your certification
- Renew with a Practice Area of Emphasis
- Obtain the maximum number of CAU from the Navigator
- Volunteer with NBCOT
Access and share your badges through your MyNBCOT account.
These resources will help you discover and manage your OT evidence-based research.
Use this tool to search for evidence-based articles as you practice occupational therapy or when researching for a paper.Access ProQuest
- Document strengths in a specific practice area
- Identify professional growth opportunities
- Link current skills and abilities to critical job skills and performance plans
- Assess learning needs prior to re-entering the workforce after a prolonged absence
- Assess learning needs prior to transitioning to a new practice area
- Form the framework for a professional development plan
- The results of the Self-Assessment are for your personal use only and do not impact your current certification status.
- Use the results from your assessments to complete a professional development plan to earn CAU. See the Certification Renewal Activities Chart for details.
Upon completion, the assessment is scored, enabling you to better understand your competencies.
- Help shape the future of the OT profession
- Develop social and professional contacts with peers from across the country
- Achieve personal satisfaction and professional recognition
- Gain a unique experience in your professional development
- Item Writer Program: Develop exam items for the OTR and COTA exams
- Certification Examination Development and Validation Committee: Review and validate items for the OTR and COTA exams
- Continuing Competency Project Development Committee (OTR only): Develop tools and products for the continuing competency program
- Competency Tool Development Committee: Develop practice-relevant content for NBCOT study tools
- Ad-hoc opportunities as they arise
Criteria & Application
- Current OTR or COTA certification
- Three to five years of experience in a specific occupational therapy practice area
- Good writing, reviewing, and editing skills
- Commitment to work within a scheduled timeline
- Ability to work well in teams
- Computer literate
- Willing and able to travel to meetings
To join the NBCOT community as a volunteer, complete the Volunteer Application and submit your résumé/CV.
- There may be additional criteria dependent on the nature of the committee work involved.
- To protect the confidentiality and intellectual property of NBCOT products, any perceived or real conflict of interest could affect selection onto an NBCOT committee.
Are you an OTR or a COTA who makes a positive impact through everyday OT practice to improve your clients’ overall life satisfaction? Have you developed a new program or intervention that enhances the quality of life for a person or persons? You could be eligible for the new NBCOT Innovation or Impact Award!