How to Become a Board-Certified Hand Therapist? - Hand Therapy Secrets

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How to Become a Board-Certified Hand Therapist?

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Hand therapists are occupational therapists or physical therapists who specialize in treating hand and upper extremity conditions. They are specialists who received education and clinical experience in the anatomy and physiology or kinesiology of the hand, according to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand

Hand therapists can become board-certified as a way of specializing within their careers. Getting certified, however, entails a rigorous process that goes beyond attending school for occupational therapy or physical therapy. 

If you want to know how to become a certified hand therapist in the U.S., read on.

Masters or Doctorate Degree

A board-certified hand therapist will need a master’s or doctorate’s degree after completing a bachelor’s degree. Completing a graduate degree program takes roughly two to three years, which will include classroom and clinical instructions. 


You’ll need to get a license to work as an occupational therapist or physical therapist. Having a license means that you have passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy or the National Physical Therapy Exam. The requirements for getting a license varies per state.

Gain the work experience

Before becoming a hand therapist, you’ll need to have at least 4,000 hours or five years of work experience, preferably hand therapy work. You can gain this experience by working in hospitals, healthcare facilities, assisted living facilities, and businesses that are in the healthcare or sports industries. 

Continuing education

Self-study is also necessary so that you can improve on your expertise and progress in your career. So, take every opportunity to pursue more educational experience, even short courses related to your specialization.

At Certified Hand Therapy Secrets, we offer free occupational therapist training online courses and educational videos to help you prepare for the certification exams. You will also get weekly e-mails complete with practical advice and useful tips for your own professional growth. 

Hand Therapy Certification Exams

Once you’ve met the requirements, you can apply for eligibility for a Hand Therapy Certification exam. This is a four-hour test, and the cost will also vary per state or testing center. 

The exam will test your knowledge and skills on techniques and tools for treatment and interventions. Your knowledge of the anatomy of the hand and upper limb will also be assessed. The certification exam is challenging, and first-takers often average a 57% passing rate.

Don’t worry, though. We are here to help you through it. We are a community of like-minded professionals who help develop each other’s knowledge, skills, and confidence in this field. Join us for online training.

Once you’ve passed the exam, the road to becoming a board-certified hand therapist is all worth it. If you’re passionate about your career, then pursuing certification will be to your advantage as you’ll be open to more opportunities as a hand specialist. You’ll also be on a different level compared to other therapists without specialization. 

Learn more about our occupational therapist training online 

Hand Therapy Secrets is a community of amazing therapists who value their colleagues, and professional growth through the sharing of experience and advice, so all questions are welcome.

If you want to know more about how to become a certified hand therapist, join our community and meet professionals with similar interests and passion in this career. Sign up for free to join our community.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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Hoang Tran

“I help Occupational Therapists develop their skills and grow their confidence in Hand Therapy. No matter where you are on your journey, build a happy and fulfilling career of your dreams. I’ll help you.”