Occupational Therapist Job Market Trends

An occupational therapist job can have the practitioners working in settings that can include schools, hospitals, out patient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities and in-home health and community health centers. Demand for occupational therapists is high in schools, especially those serving children with disabilities. The steadily increasing population of the elderly has enhanced the need for the services of occupational therapists in that area. Here, they are needed to treat low vision rehabilitation and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as work with them on assisted living and home safety training.  

What Education and Training are Required in Current Market Scenario

Typical studies involve introduction to health care, anatomy and physiology, in addition to basic medical terminology. In the second year pediatrics, gerontology, physical disabilities and mental health are covered. Students are expected to complete 16 weeks of supervised fieldwork in clinics or hospitals. High school courses in biology and health and any volunteer work in nursing institutions help a student get admission to occupational therapy courses. Interpersonal skills are a must, with a sincere desire to help people in pain or those who are afflicted.

Understanding Market Trends

Practitioners of occupational therapy can expect starting salaries of $40,000 per year and surveys indicate that 95 percent of graduates are able to take up jobs within a month or two of their graduation. As a matter of fact, over sixty percent of these jobs are confirmed even before graduation. The vast majority of occupational therapists graduating are female and more than three quarters of these remain employed for a period of up to 12 to 13 years. Major hospitals continue to have a dearth of trained occupational therapists as private practice and better facilities elsewhere attract trained therapists.   

Occupational therapist need to complete an adequate educational qualification that will be acceptable to the professional requirements. Most such courses require hands on training, as well as internships that are time based. Once they are qualified they also need to apply for the necessary licenses that will enable them to practice in the location of their choice. If the therapist intends to go in for private practice licensing certification is a must. The certification is voluntary for other therapists who are attached to institutions, but such certification significantly increases the chances for advancement.

The employment prospects for occupational therapists are expected to be much brighter than for most other occupations. This has been brought about by the increase in the population of the elderly and the larger awareness of disability and its particular focus in the field of education. The larger incidence of strokes and thus impairment of physical abilities in middle aged people is also another reason why occupational therapists will continue to be in demand for their services.

Hospital require the services of occupational therapists to help in the rehabilitation of severely ill patients, and also those who undergo surgeries that cause the temporary loss of movement or the use of any limb.

Occupational therapists can also move into administrative positions in large hospitals or institutions that have a large department for occupational therapy. They can also go on to become teachers themselves and conduct courses in designated colleges. Sports medicine and the application of it to professional sportsmen is another area of occupational therapy that has a vast scope.