How to Become an Occupational Therapist

Become a Occupational Therapist

Home > Career Training > What To Do Now? > What To Do Now? Occupational Therapist Career Training

Do you want to help people live happier and more productive lives? Occupational therapists are professionals who work with patients who have a mental or physical disability (or injury) in order to help them achieve their highest possible functioning. If this kind of career sounds interesting to you, explore retraining as an occupational therapist in order to improve your skills for this growing career. While an advanced education is expected when you enter this field, online occupational training courses can provide the required course work.

Career Skills for the Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist must first care about the well being of others. When people are injured or living with a permanent disability such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, occupational therapists can help patients learn or re-learn the skills they need for daily living. These skills can include eating, dressing oneself, working, operating a computer, and more. Career skills that are necessary for this profession include excellent communication, patience, ability to assess patient needs, and an understanding of physical conditions.

The future prospects for occupational therapy look bright, especially for work with the elderly. Even in a bad economy there is often a need for professionals who can work with those who have trouble taking care of themselves. Occupational therapists work primarily in hospitals, but also in clinics, private practices and educational settings. In addition to helping the physically disabled, they can help psychiatric patients function more effectively.

Career Advice for Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists generally need to have a master's degree as well as appropriate licensure. Campus based programs or online occupational therapy training courses can provide the required classes. To improve your skills, hands-on experience will also be needed, and is typically found in six month occupational therapy internships.

Career Outlook

  • Goals of occupational therapist: strengthening patient functions, prevention of injury, quality of patient life, and maintaining patient independence
  • Minimal education requirements: Master's degree
  • States that require an occupational therapist to be licensed: all 50 + District of Columbia
  • Common progression in occupational therapy degree programs: Two year heavy emphasis on science followed by two years hands-on field work
  • Mandatory final examination for an occupational therapist: National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)
  • Number of OT degree programs that combine a bachelor's and master's degree: More than 60
  • Occupational therapist work locations: Rehabilitation centers, hospitals, clinics, and patients' homes
  • Occupational therapists working part time: around 25%
  • Reasons for occupational therapy: loss of function through physical, mental, developmental, or emotion conditions
  • Job outlook during 2012-22: 29 percent - Much faster than the national average of 11 percent.
  • Emerging fields in occupational therapy: Elderly fall prevention and driver rehabilitation
  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2013, the occupational therapists earned a median annual salary of $77,890 with top 10% making more than $109,380.
  • Top Paying States: Nevada, California, New Jersey, Texas, District of Columbia.
  • States with Highest Employment: California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Therapists
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Therapists, May 2013 Wages