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:

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  • TYPES OF OT JOBS

  • 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


  • WHERE TO FIND A JOB

  • Edjoin.org

  • 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

  • NECESSARY DOCUMENTS

  • 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


  • PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW

  • 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”