The High Price of Becoming an OT
Hello all, and happy New Year! I’ve been out of the blogosphere for quite some time due to a series of very fortunate events in the past several months, including:
- Graduating from OT school
- Studying for and passing the NBCOT exam
- Getting married to my significant other of 7 years (and counting!)
- Going on an amazing honeymoon to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico!
- Applying and interviewing for various OT jobs
- Traveling to visit family and friends
- Accepting a position as a school-based OT for a large school system
As you can see, I’ve been keeping pretty busy! But I’m hoping that in the new year I will get back to blogging more regularly and keeping anyone out there who cares updated on my transition from new grad to new practitioner.
On that note, I’ve been keeping a close eye on what it has actually cost me to get to this point in my career (or rather on the cusp of my new career, which will actually start on Thursday!). I did not include the cost of my OT school tuition/fees, as this number varies widely across programs. However, I have calculated exactly what I spent as I journeyed from student to practitioner over the past several months to give current and prospective OT students a realistic assessment of what it costs to become an OT.
Although I had a vague idea of what it would cost to take the boards, apply for a license, etc. I was still blindsided by how much money I needed upfront to actually become a licensed, registered occupational therapist. In the grand scheme of things the amount below might not seem like a lot, when it comes directly out of one’s shallow grad student pockets within a couple of days, it can be quite the financial blow. In hindsight, I recommend that OT/A students who are approaching the end of their academic careers calculate exactly what they will be spending and begin saving for (or set aside) the necessary funds to cover these costs.
*The procedure for transferring exam scores varies by state, so confirm with previous program graduates or professors to ensure you are paying for the correct service in your state.
**Students in my program receive this book as a graduation gift from program faculty. Because it is so widely used by OT students preparing for the NBCOT exam, the value of a NEW book with digital resources (CD) is included here.
In addition to my actual costs to take the NBCOT exam and apply for licensure in my state, I could have paid hundreds more if I had purchased additional study materials, such as:
- $150 – AOTA NBCOT Exam Prep Online Resource
- $325 – TherapyEd Exam Prep Course ($245 if TherapyEd book is already purchased)
- $60-800 – Pass the OT Exam Prep Resources
- $10-60 – NBCOT Exam Prep Tools (flashcard, study guides, online exams, etc.)
Other possible (but easily avoidable) fees are those charged for switching exam dates ($50), arriving late or bringing the incorrect documents to the testing center ($175), or failing to take the exam within the time allotted after the issuance of the Authorization to Test Letter ($75-175).
Because I mostly used “free” resources provided by my OT program faculty and a friend’s subscription to an online study tool, my actual out-of-pocket cost for study materials for 1.5 months of studying was only $46 – and I passed the exam on the first try! Depending on the type and amount of study materials you purchase, your costs may be more or less than mine. And while I can’t tell you how much is the “right” amount to spend on study materials, I do think the rates some of these services are charging are ridiculous and borderline unethical…
I believe that most OT/A programs are graduating students who are well-prepared to take the exam, even if they might need to spend time reviewing specific interventions, developmental stages, measurements, etc. to answer some questions. While I wasn’t 100% cool, calm, and collected on the day I took the exam, I did feel confident in my clinical reasoning skills, practical knowledge, and overall ability to pass.
Ultimately, actually becoming a licensed, registered OT isn’t easy or inexpensive. I spent the bare minimum on study materials and exam costs, and still it was almost $900 when all was said and done. I’m thankful that my family was able to help me cover some of these costs and help me complete the final steps in becoming an occupational therapist, and I’m proud to say that I am now Lauren Jones, MS, OTR/L!