Occupational Therapist Career Facts

An occupational therapist can choose to concentrate in a wide variety of clinical areas. This profession truly makes a difference in the everyday lives of individuals. Occupational therapists assist people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities and other diseases and illnesses to regain the ability to perform everyday tasks with ease. Some patients may need long-term care and benefit from specialized technology. Occupational therapists may also operate in general practice. This is a fairly lucrative career for someone interested in the medical field who enjoys helping people.

Occupational Therapist Jobs

Occupational therapists may work full-time or part-time. Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings include nursing homes, treatment facilities, hospitals, schools medical offices and mental health facilities. Occupational therapists may choose a certain population to work with during their course of study. Occupational therapists help people regain basic life skills like cooking, cleaning and eating. Occupational therapists may also assist people in the development of logical and abstract thinking skills, emotional skills and hand-eye coordination.

Responsibilities

Occupational therapists help patients adapt to living on their own by practicing everyday activities with them in a controlled, therapeutic environment. Occupational therapists work with people who have physical and mental disabilities and illnesses, elderly people, individuals recovering from accidents and other demographics. Occupational therapists should have good people skills and be creative enough to change treatment based on the individual needs of the patient. Occupational therapists should also have a good deal of patience and not be easily discouraged, since not all patients show immediate improvement and the occupational therapist's attitude about their progress may affect their recovery.

Education

Occupational therapists should have a minimum of master's degree in occupational therapy. Occupational therapy students study multidisciplinary coursework in the sciences. Occupational therapy programs also include fieldwork under the supervision of a practicing occupational therapist. Fieldwork is necessary since most areas of occupational therapy require specialized techniques and equipment and since bedside manner is so important. Continuing education may a requirement for licensing in some states and is also a way to help advance within the career field.

License

Occupational therapists in all States are required to graduate from an accredited institutions and pass a standardized exam in order to receive their license to practice. Once an occupational therapists is licensed, he or she has the option to use the credential Occupational Therapists Registered (OTR).

Salary

Occupational therapists generally earn about $50,000-60,000 per year.

Advancement Options

Occupational therapists are more likely to advance by taking on supervisor positions within their area of employment. Another factor that generally increases advancement opportunities is to develop an area of clinical concentration, like geriatrics.  Some occupational therapists find employment in private practice.  Occupational therapists may also teach by pursuing a Ph.D. in occupational therapy. Some occupational therapists choose to attend medical school. This may particularly easy of the occupational therapist who has developed a focus area during the master's degree. If medical school a planned part of the occupational therapist career path, prepare in advance by connecting coursework and experience from the master's degree and practice, if applicable.