Occupational and Physical Therapists

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) identifies occupational and physical therapy as related services for eligible children ages 3-21 who require assistance to benefit from a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. The New York City Department of Education provides school-based Occupational and Physical Therapy both in District 75, which provides citywide services for students with disabilities, and in general education school settings. Occupational and physical therapy services are provided by NY State-licensed therapists to students mandated to receive such services as designated on their Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs).

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is designed to maintain, improve, or restore function of students in all education-related activities, including neuro-musculoskeletal function; motor function including fine motor, oral motor, and visual motor integration; sensory and perceptual function; cognitive, and psychosocial function. Activities emphasize independence in daily living skills and school participation in various settings including classroom, bathroom, cafeteria, and playground.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy emphasizes physical function of gross motor skills and independence in different settings. Physical therapists increase a student’s ability to participate in various school functions by remediating or compensating for musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, or cardiopulmonary impairments. Physical therapists employ various techniques including addressing deficits in body structure and function, suggesting adaptations to physical tasks, recommending assistive devices, and adapting the environment.

NY State Certification and Licensing Requirements

All therapists must be licensed to practice by the NY State Office of Professions. The NY State Education Department (NYSED) provides more information on certification requirements for both occupational and physical therapists.

Employment Opportunities for Occupational and Physical Therapists

Vacancies for both professions exist in all boroughs and within both the general education student population and the special education student population.

School-Based Occupational and Physical Therapy within District 75 Schools

Schools under the jurisdiction of District 75 are focused on students who are on the autism spectrum, have significant cognitive delays, are severely emotionally challenged, sensory impaired and/or multiply disabled. District 75 schools sometimes occupy multiple sites, and the position might be in more than one physical site. Positions for therapists in District 75 schools are available in all five boroughs, with the highest need in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

School-Based Occupational and Physical Therapy within General Education Schools

The emphasis of school-based occupational and physical therapy is to help students access the academic environment and participate to the maximum extent possible in educationally related activities. Therapists are responsible for evaluating and treating students with disabilities, maintaining daily progress notes, completing daily attendance records, writing progress reports, attending IEP meetings, and recommending adaptive equipment, environmental accommodations, or assistive technology. In addition to these services provided to students on their caseloads, occupational and physical therapists work collaboratively with teachers and other school staff to serve the school community in a variety of ways. Occupational and Physical Therapist Vacancies in General Education Schools exist in all five boroughs, with the highest needs in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

For information regarding Itinerant positions working with Pre K students, please see the following:

How to Apply

If you are interested in a position as an Occupational or Physical Therapist, use the online application to apply. All inquiries should be directed to pps@schools.nyc.gov.

Civil-Service Examination Requirement

The DOE appoints therapists from a list of eligible employees based on civil-service examinations. Once the civil-service list is exhausted, therapists who have not taken the civil-service examinations for the appropriate therapist title may be appointed provisionally. When the examination becomes available again, they will be required to take it to remain employed. If you have not taken the civil-service examination, you must complete the online application in order to be considered for employment.

Occupational and Physical Therapy Scholarship Program

Students pursuing a master's or doctoral degree in Occupational or Physical Therapy are eligible to apply for the Occupational and Physical Therapy Scholarship Program. Scholarships will be granted through a selection process involving an interview (in-person), a review of the applicant's academic records, writing samples, and personal and professional references. The DOE will provide tuition payment (contingent upon the availability of funding for the program) to the participating university on behalf of the individuals selected to participate in the scholarship program. Our scholarship program prepares participants to serve two years as NY State-certified clinicians for every year that the scholarship is awarded. The service obligation is a minimum of two years. Upon completion, participants are required to serve in designated districts deemed high-need within the New York City public school system.