If you are a compassionate person who wants a fulfilling and highly demanded career helping people to recover from injury and illness, consider becoming an Occupational Therapist. An Occupational Therapist works to help patients who have disabling physical, mental, developmental or emotional conditions to regain lost abilities needed for living productive and independent lives.
Many occupational therapists focus on certain disabilities, such as helping recent amputees learn to compensate for loss of functionality, or helping recently disabled individuals improve their motor skills, and perceptual and reasoning abilities.
Occupational therapy is a demanding career which requires those who practice it to be dedicated, caring, compassionate, patient, and able to earn the respect of those in their care. The rewards include a good income and the sense of accomplishment that comes from helping people reclaim their lives. They often witness patients who are in despair gradually transforming into people with hope and a positive outlook for their future.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) rates the job outlook for an occupational therapist as "much faster than average." Job growth is expected to be 12% from 2013 to 2017, which represents an increase of 13,323 jobs over the next 4 years. The median annual salary for occupational therapists in 2012 was $75,400.
Similarly optimistic job growth is expected for occupational therapist assistants and aides, with 15% growth for occupational assistants, and 12% growth for occupational aides from 2013 to 2017. The median annual salary for occupational assistants and aides in 2012 was $48,940.
The requirements and income potential for these positions are lower than for occupational therapists, but the intangible rewards can be every bit as high. These positions also provide an excellent career path if you are working toward being an occupational therapist. All of the above mentioned OT trends are highlighted visually in this infographic from WebPT.
A master's or doctoral degree is required to become an occupational therapist, as well as certification from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Once the certification test has been passed, the candidate must be licensed or registered by their state regulatory board to begin their practice.
- Occupational therapy assistants must have an associate's degree from an accredited occupational therapy program. Most states require occupational assistants to be licensed.
- Occupational therapy aides typically require a high school diploma or equivalent and on the job training.
The increasing demand for occupational therapists is expected to continue into the foreseeable, partly as a reflection of the needs of our aging population. Contact us to learn more about career opportunities in the field of occupational therapy.
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