Occupational therapist essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $75,400
- 2011, number of jobs: 105,540
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 33 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
Occupational therapists; what they do:
Occupational therapists play a major role in making someone with a disability gain more freedom and independence. Occupational therapists work with injured, ill, or disabled individuals, developing ways for these individuals to get around and perform duties for themselves easier, as well as relieving some pain.
An occupational therapist career involves some sleuthing and innovation; occupational therapists discover the medical history, the current struggles, and the future goals of their clients. They use the information to create a treatment plan and daily exercises for an individual.
An occupational therapist career involves evaluating an individual’s home or working environment to suggest ways to improve the environment. An occupational therapist may suggest new equipment for the environment or educate a client’s family members or employer on ways to better meet the individual’s needs.
A variety of people benefit from working with an occupational therapist, including the elderly, people with permanent disabilities, people with mental or emotional disorders, school-age children, and infants and toddlers at risk of having developmental delays.
Occupational therapists job titles:
- Registered Occupational Therapist
- Staff Therapist
- Industrial Rehabilitation Consultant
- Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Occupational Therapists Education, Certification and License Requirements
An occupational therapy career begins with obtaining a Master of Occupational Therapy degree, with some programs also offering a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree.
Acceptance into an occupational therapy education program requires a Bachelor degree, classes in biology and physiology, and some prior work experience in an occupational therapy setting.
Some colleges and universities offer five-year programs which combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree in occupational therapy. All occupational therapy programs require supervised fieldwork.
Occupational therapists programs cover subjects such as:
- Human occupations
- Occupational therapy administration
- Research methods in occupational therapy
- Pediatric, adult and geriatric occupational therapy
- Community gerontology
- Neuroscience of occupation
Although occupational therapist certification is voluntary, most occupational therapists acquire certification. Occupational therapy certification provides an edge when job seeking.
Certification for occupational therapists involves passing an exam administered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists. After passing the exam, the professional may use the title of Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). An occupational therapist must take continuing education courses to maintain certification.
Every state requires occupational therapists to have a license. Licensure requires graduation from an accredited program, certification and additional state-specific requirements.
Occupational Therapists Job Outlook
Forecast: 33 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for occupational therapists, much faster than the average for all occupations.
The aging baby boomer generation increases the demand for occupational therapists. Occupational therapists adjust the environments of elderly people to help them remain independent.
Occupational Therapists Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $75,400
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $90,270
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $62,510
- Hospitals; local, state, and private
- Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists; and audiologists
- Nursing care facilities
- Home health care facilities
- Individual and family services