Colorado OT Practice Act

After more than 30 years of OTAC regulatory efforts in Colorado, all occupational therapy practitioners in Colorado became licensed! Governor John Hickenlooper signed the OT Practice Act SB 13-180, into law on June 5, 2013 at approximately 12:38pm. The law went into effect on July 1, 2013 but there was not a process to become licensed until January 1, 2014. This finally follows suit with all other states in the country that previously had licensing for occupational therapists and the vast majority of states who have licensing for occupational therapy assistants.

Generally, for an individual to become licensed, they must have passed the national certification exam initially, successfully completed an internship under an occupational therapist, and have a degree in occupational therapy from an accredited school by the American Occupational Therapy Association or the World Federation of Occupational Therapists.

We would like to acknowledge the many licensure committees or task forces throughout the years and the support of the OTAC membership for our lobbyists’ efforts. Additionally, we would like to thank our Senate Sponsor for the bill, Dr. Irene Aquilar- Democrat from Denver and our House Sponsor, John Singer- Democrat from Longmont for their support of the bill.

Does Colorado have Licensure?

Yes, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants need to hold a license in order to practice occupational therapy. This is a state law which stipulates that all occupational therapy services provided to the public in Colorado must be provided and/or supervised by occupational therapists who are licensed by the State of Colorado. A list of all licensed occupational therapy practitioners (i.e., OTs, OTAs) will be maintained by the state. Refer to DORA for licensure information:

  • The individual must contact DORA (Department of Regulatory Agencies).
  • Instructions to obtain initial licensure to to renew a license as an OT practitioner in Colorado are found on the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) website
  • DORA's Office of Occupational Therapy's website address is:  https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/Occupational_Therapy. 

The history of licensure of Occupational Therapy in Colorado?

Licensure has a historical basis, as Colorado has been a national leader, as a deregulated state, through our former Governor Dick Lamm. The Governor and this state have set up a Sunrise and Sunset Review Process, which is to promote less regulation and thereby regulatory agencies by the state. The Sunrise Review Process includes an extensive application to the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) for consideration of all regulatory agencies, such as Occupational Therapy Licensure. The application for licensure was unsuccessful in four attempts in 1987, 1992, 1995, and more recently in 2006. A Trade Deception Act passed in 1996, with an updated language bill passing in 2002. In our last effort, 2008, a registration bill was passed as The Occupational Therapy Practice Act 2008, in which all occupational therapists (not occupational therapy assistants) in Colorado must be registered by the DORA. The law indicated registration requirements, the maintenance of a current list of registered occupational therapists, and a process for handling consumer complaints completed by a Director at DORA. The details of this law are described on previous web pages.  As of June 2014 all OTs and OTAs in Colorado are licensed.

Additionally, the state of Colorado has a Sunset Review Process. This includes a periodic resubmission process to DORA to demonstrate a continued need for a regulatory agency. For this bill, it was reviewed in the year 2013.

Many of the current and previous OTAC Board Members were involved in this process. AOTA was supportive and highly involved in this effort as well. There were extensive resources including financial and personal involvement on the part of the memberships involved in this attempt. It was the recommendation of DORA, since there was no public harm reported or proven by the Occupational Therapy Practitioners in this state to warrant Occupational Therapists and/or Occupational Therapy Assistants to be licensed., that we pursue Registration. Registration is similar to Licensure in that it is a law, and there is a state Practice Act; it is different in that there is not a regulatory board, but a Director, and the level of sanctions for unscrupulous practice are not as many. Practicing without active Licensure is a Class 2 Misdemeanor for the first offense, a Class 1 Misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. The State of CO is committed to the licensure process in Colorado. 

If I received my OT training in another country, can I practice in Colorado?

Yes, if you meet the above criterions which include graduation from an accredited program, certification eligibility and initial certification by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Apply for Licensure at DORA’s website, http://www.dora.state.co.us/registrations/index.htm. For more information about how to become credentialed by NBCOT, visit http://www.nbcot.org 


 

Fieldwork Sites

Does OTAC maintain a listing of fieldwork sites?

No. We are not able to maintain an up-to-date listing of this sort. To explore fieldwork opportunities, you must contact potential facilities directly. 


Continued Professional Competency

Colorado Licensing for OT Practitioners DORAs’ “Deemed Status” definition

"If for the ENTIRE DORA renewal cycle for an OT or OTA holds an active license with CDE as a Special Service Provider or has current certification by NBCOT as an OTR or COTA then he/she will qualify for Deemed Status with DORA. The CDE Special Services Provider must also be employed by a school district in Colorado.  At the end of each DORA renewal cycle (2 years for OT), if the licensee is Deemed Status, he/she will attest that he/she is in compliance with CDE's or NBCOT’s requirements.  This means that they can complete their requirements in CDE's cycle not DORA's, in other words, he/she does have to complete 24 hours of continuing educational requirements in DORA’s 2 year period."

For further information regarding the requirements and application, please contact The Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs.


 

School OT Practitioners

What are the requirements to work in Colorado's public schools as an OT?

To work as an occupational therapist in Colorado's public schools, you must (a) maintain current certification by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), (b) be licensed as an occupational therapist with the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), and (c) have a Special Services License through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). CDE oversees credentialing for teachers, administrative services, and special service personnel (e.g; OTs) who work in Colorado's schools.  To contact the licensing office at the Colorado Department of Education, click on www.cde.state.co.us