Occupational therapists work in hospitals, medical offices, and nursing home facilities around the world. They work with sick, injured, and disabled patients to improve their health and quality of life. Occupational therapists strive to help patients recover and work closely with them to improve their skills. The most common job duties of an occupational therapist include:
Talking to patients and asking them questions about their health and other aspects of their lives
Reviewing patients' medical histories
Evaluating a patient's therapy needs
Developing detailed treatment plans for patients that includes specific goals and activities
Helping people of many different levels of ability learn new skills and regain functions
Demonstrating exercises that patients must do
Evaluating the living environments of patients to determine how they can be altered to help fulfill their dynamic needs
Educating a patient's loved ones on how to best help the patient
Assessing the progress of patients and making a record of that progress
Occupational therapists need to be strong because they are sometimes working with people in heartbreaking situations, and they always need to be calm, cool, and collected to best serve the patients that they help.
Occupational Therapy Job Education Requirements
Most occupational therapy positions require that applicants have at least a master's degree in occupational therapy. Additionally, occupational therapists must be licensed or registered. All states require that they pass the national exam that's given by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists. There are doctoral degrees in occupational therapy as well, and that path is recommended for those who want to have a competitive edge and be able to more easily garner the top positions in the field. Also, there are several types of certifications available through the American Occupational Therapy Association for those who want to increase their knowledge level or establish a specialty. Occupational therapists oftentimes work alongside doctors and nurses to help patients move towards recovery.
Occupational Therapy Job Market
Between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a growth of approximately 29 percent in occupational therapy jobs. That means that there will be around 146,100 occupational therapy jobs available in 2022. Job opportunities will be most plentiful in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and orthopedic offices because that is where the growing elderly population will receive treatments from occupational therapists.
Occupational Therapy Job Salary Information
Occupational therapists earned an average annual salary of approximately $75,400 in 2012. The top healthcare professionals in the position earned upwards of approximately $107,070 per year, and the low-end average salary is $50,500. Most occupational therapists work full-time, and they may need to work nights and weekends to best accommodate the needs of patients.