How to Become an Occupational Therapist in the Air Force

Air Force occupational therapists help airmen recover from physical conditions.
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From treating someone with a mild case of carpel tunnel syndrome to helping a wounded airman get back on her feet, occupational therapists in the U.S. Air Force can expect to treat a range of symptoms and conditions. You must meet the Air Force’s basic requirements for enlisting and specific education and certification requirements to work as an occupational therapist. Though federal law bars women from filling certain combat positions in the Air Force, they can enlist with the goal of working as an occupational therapist.


    As an occupational therapist in the Air Force, you’ll evaluate and treat active-duty members of the armed forces who have a variety of physical, psychosocial or developmental limitations. You’ll also evaluate and treat members of their families and retired personnel. You’ll plan therapeutic activities that promote health or that support rehabilitating physical or psychosocial limitations.

Other Responsibilities

    Occupational therapists in the Air Force also manage relevant education and research programs, administer occupational therapy programs and interview patients. You’ll also keep commanders informed about an airman’s rehabilitation and progress. You can also discuss long-term plans with commanders about ways of improving the occupational health programs and services available at the Air Force.

Basic Requirements

    To join the Air Force, you must be between 18 and 48, a U.S. citizen, have a career-relevant degree or postgraduate degree and be licensed and eligible to practice in your field. The Air Force Recruiting Service, or AFRS, will review your application. It will base its decision on objective and subjective factors, including your GPA, education, work experience, accomplishments and character. You must also pass a physical and mental health screening.

Education and Certification Requirements

    You must have a master’s degree in occupational therapy to enlist as an occupational therapist. You must have earned your degree from an institution that the American Occupational Therapist Association has accredited. You must also have earned national board certification in occupational therapy through the National Board on Certification of Occupational Therapists.


    All commissioned officers must complete five weeks of Commissioned Officer Training. The Air Force intends this training to help officers who will hold a health care, legal or religious position transition from the private sector into military life. Training also includes physical conditioning five days a week, training, financial seminars and classroom studies.

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