Internationally Educated Occupational Therapists
If you are considering a move to Canada to practice occupational therapy, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) has information to help you understand how the profession functions in this country as well as the eligibility requirements to become a licensed occupational therapist (OT) within the Canadian health care system. Internationally Educated Occupational Therapists (IEOTs) are an important part of the health care workforce in Canada so we encourage you to research the profession and the licensing processes involved before making your move.
There are steps involved in becoming become an occupational therapist (OT) in Canada:
IEOTs must meet specific licensing requirements before they are allowed practise in Canada. These requirements are set out by the regulatory organizations in each of Canada’s ten provinces who have the responsibility to protect the public. OTs practicing in Canada’s three territories – the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut – are not currently regulated as a health profession.
- The first step is for IEOT applicants to have their credentials assessed before they can apply to be registered provincially and receive a license to practice. The Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO) is the organization that manages this first step in the registration process. IEOTs apply to ACOTRO’s Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS). The ACOTRO website provides all the information on the SEAS process.
- As part of the SEAS process, ACOTRO will grant eligibility for the IEOT to write the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination (the NOTCE) and will ask IEOTs to contact the provincial regulator in the province in which they wish to practice. Eligibility must be granted by a regulator before writing the NOTCE. Provincial regulatory organizations
- To help with exam preparation, IEOTs can access a program called OTepp - the occupational therapy examination and practice preparation program for internationally educated occupational therapists in Canada. Find out about OTepp.
- The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) administers the NOTCE and has all the resources and information IEOTs need to get prepared and be successful. All the provinces in Canada, with the exception of Quebec, require successful completion of the national exam. National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination
- An additional resource is: The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials
There is information to help you understand how the profession of occupational therapy works in Canada:
- To make a well-informed decision about working in Canadian health care, you should know your options before you immigrate. Use the Health Career Options Guide.
- Occupational therapists may provide a wide variety of services in many working environments. Certain competencies are expected. Read The Profile of Occupational Therapy Practice in Canada (2012).
- A short series of videos provide examples of how occupational therapists practice in Canada. Watch “A Day in the life of an Occupational Therapist.” ‘Videos require media player’
- In Canada, occupational therapy support personnel, or assistants (OTAs), are individuals who have the job-related competencies to support occupational therapists in delivering occupational therapy services. OTA competencies and expectations are profiled in the Practice Profile for Occupational Therapy Assistant (2018).
- CAOT supports the development of the profession of occupational therapy in Canada. Find out more by viewing:
There are online resources to help you plan your move to Canada and to research job possibilities:
Moving to Canada
Working in Canada
- Immigration and Citizenship: Look for jobs in Canada
- Service Canada
- CAOT Career listings
- Provincial/Territorial occupational therapy professional associations