An occupational therapist (OT) helps people of all ages learn how to perform their daily tasks at home, school, work, and in their community. They deal with developmentally disabled children and adults, the elderly, and people who have lost function due to illness or injury.
Occupational therapists visit their clients to assess their needs and create an action plan to help their patients acquire and regain skills such as feeding, engaging in a social environment, or using adaptive devices such as wheelchairs.
OTs may work in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient care centers, sometimes visiting their home patients.
Training to Become an Occupational Therapist
A Master’s degree in occupational therapy is the minimum academic prerequisite to become an occupational therapist. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) recognizes master’s and doctoral programs in occupational therapy, and OTs must graduate from an approved program in most states to apply for licensing.
Entry-level OT master’s degree programs welcome bachelor’s degree students in any subject, but applicants with a background in health sciences have a chance of getting a leg up in the admissions process. OT students take classes in subjects such as the physiology of behavior, functional anatomy, and kinesiology.
Job Description for an Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists treat patients with special equipment and the constructive use of daily activities with disabilities, sick or wounded. OTs help patients improve, heal, and develop the skills we need for day-to-day work and life. They can provide patient care and emergency patient care on a long-term basis.
They also work on the following.
- Conducting client physical and psychological evaluations and developing a treatment plan or following it.
- Assessing customers’ home and work environments and determining what changes are needed.
- Advising on specialized devices to facilitate daily activities for clients.
- Developing services for physical therapy to help clients recover lost skills.
Average Salary of an Occupational Therapist
According to Money U.S. News, occupational therapists made a median salary of $83,200 in 2017. The best-paid 25 percent earned $100,320 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $67,970.
Job Prospects for an Occupational Therapist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2012 and 2020, jobs of occupational therapists in the United States would rise by 29 percent. This growth for all occupations is much higher than the expected average growth, and the BLS attributes this growth to several factors.
Occupational therapists will be required as the country’s population ages to help the elderly stay independent in their homes and recover from the diseases and chronic conditions associated with aging. OTs are also needed to help people with autism spectrum disorder learn social skills and take part in school and workplace activities.
After your education and training, you can apply for jobs with these websites.
- Indeed – Indeed is one of the leading job searching platforms today.
- Glassdoor – Glassdoor helps you look for a job all over the world.
Practical occupational therapists are expected to complete continuing learning to retain their certification. Still, some OTs are seeking advanced education and training to gain additional qualifications in specialties such as driving and public mobility, environmental change, school systems, impaired vision, feeding, chewing, and swallowing.
Occupational therapists assist in educating patient caregivers and client family members, as well as helping to rehabilitate individuals to their former or new levels of functionality in the world.
This job can be very rewarding, as it focuses on improving the lives of others and making their experiences more doable. They also help evaluate client outcomes and advances in occupational therapy. For more therapy-related jobs, click here.