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OTS 50: Landing a School-Based Occupational Therapy Job Feat. Amanda Clark, OTR/L

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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 50 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.

In this episode, Jayson hosts fellow occupational therapist, Amanda Clark, to talk about the differences between a contract school-based job and a district school-based job. After we identify the differences, we talk about how to land your first, or perhaps your fourth School-based Occupational Therapy job.

This podcast does not qualify as a Professional Development Podcast. You can learn more about how to earn professional development credits through the OTSH Podcast for your OT/COTA renewal certification here!

Links to Show References:



    • Most common

      • District, Contract, County/SELPA (California Special Education Local Plan Areas) as they are called in California

  • Contract Jobs

    • Working for a private company that contracts with a school district - working for someone who is getting paid to have you work at a district

    • Pros

      • Mentorship opportunities

      • Salary and benefit negotiations are more common

      • Travel options

      • More job opportunities over a larger distance if you are willing to move

      • More autonomy

      • COTA jobs are few and far between district jobs, but contract companies often hire assistants.

      • May be opportunities to move up in the company beyond being a school OT

  • Cons

    • May feel out of the loop with the district employees or changes in policy

    • Benefits may not be as good as in a district.

    • May work in varied districts/locations (could be a pro)

    • Access to supplies, equipment, buildings, and even a space to work can be a challenge.

    • Hourly or PRN positions are very common in contract positions. Unless your district is a staggered year-round model, you will make less or even no money during the summer months.

    • Your caseload is more likely to fluctuate as a contractor. Maternity coverage is a common reason districts hire contractors.

  • District/County jobs

    • Working directly for the county education dept. Or a specific district.

    • Pros

      • Salary vs. hourly

      • Benefits tend to be good

      • May have more opportunities to collaborate and provide trainings

  • Cons

    • Limited opportunities to “move up” due to not having a credential

    • Limited school budgets



      • EdJoin is a national portal, but most postings are in California

      • Go to the district websites you wish to work for

      • Linkedin

      • Talk to friends and colleagues.

      • Referral bonus


    • Resume

    • 2-3 current letters of recommendation

    • Letter of intent

    • OT License and Registration

    • Drivers license and Proof of insurance

    • Copy of your driving record

    • CPR Certification

    • Recent TB test

    • Transcripts


    • Research the district a little bit

    • Practice answering possible interview questions

      • What is the OT's role in an IEP?

      • What is an IEP?

      • What is IDEA and ADA?

      • Understand what FAPE means

      • How might you collaborate with teachers to support students?

      • Understand best practices in regards to the delivery of service: collaborative, consultation, and direct and when each is or is not appropriate.

      • Be prepared to describe what a typical session would look like…

      • How would you explain why you are decreasing services to a reluctant parent? - hint... the key phrase they want to hear is “least restrictive environment”

      • Not just OT questions - Questions about overcoming obstacles, ethical dilemmas, working as part of a team, as well strengths and weaknesses are almost always a given.

      • Know OT assessments used in the school setting.

      • Know programs used in the school setting (e.g. Handwriting Without Tears)

    • Likewise, prepare questions that you may have for the interview panel should you be given the opportunity.


    • Negotiations

    • Benefits

    • CEU Stipends/allowances & material allowances

Be sure to subscribe to the OT School House email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs.

Have any questions or comments about the podcast? Email Jayson at


Thanks for visiting the podcast show notes! If you enjoyed this episode be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts


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