This post provides detailed information on the occupational therapist education and career pathway, including the certification you need to have and how you can advance and be successful in your career.
Who is an Occupational Therapist?
An occupational therapist is a professional who works with people to help them achieve their goals in life through the use of activities, equipment or other interventions that are designed to improve performance.
Why Choose Occupational Therapist Career?
Here are some reasons why you should choose an occupational therapy career:
- You can make a difference in someone’s life by helping them reach their potential.
- The work involves hands-on practice with clients and patients.
- There is a wide range of different jobs available for OTs.
- It is possible to earn good money as an OT.
- An occupation like this requires a lot of patience and compassion.
- A career like this provides many opportunities for growth and development.
- This field offers great job satisfaction.
Occupational Therapist Education Requirements
These are the minimum education requirements for becoming an occupational therapist:
- B.Sc (or equivalent) from an accredited college or university
- A Master’s degree (or equivalent), which includes coursework in human development, psychology, sociology, health sciences, communication skills, and/or social work
- Licensure in your state.
Occupational Therapist Continuing Education
To renew your license as an occupational therapist, you will be expected to take some continuing education courses.
Some states require occupational therapists to undergo continuing education to maintain licensure.
Occupational Therapist Certification/License
There are two types of occupational therapists: certified and licensed. Certified occupational therapists have completed a program of study and passed certification exams.
Licensed occupational therapists must pass licensing exams before they can treat patients.
Occupational Therapist Career Opportunities
There are several career opportunities for occupational therapists. These include:
- Clinical Practice
Clinical practice involves working directly with clients. This could involve providing treatment or rehabilitation services such as physical or speech therapy, occupational therapy, or mental health counseling.
Teaching involves educating students about various topics related to occupational therapy.
Examples include teaching classes on occupational therapy history, theory, and techniques; preparing lesson plans; and giving lectures at conferences.
Administrative careers involve managing programs and facilities. Examples include being an administrator for a school district or hospital.
Research involves conducting studies to learn more about how people interact with their environment.
Consulting occupations provide advice and guidance to others. Examples include consulting for companies or government agencies.
Other careers include law enforcement, firefighting, and military service.
How to Advance your Occupational Therapist Career
If you want to advance your occupational therapist career, here are some tips:
- Attend conferences and trade shows. They offer opportunities to meet professionals in your field.
2. Get involved in local organizations. They often hold events where you can network with other professionals.
3. Look into graduate schools that specialize in occupational therapy. Graduates will likely need additional training and experience before they become licensed.
4. Take advantage of online resources. Many universities now offer free access to articles and videos.
5. Join professional associations. You’ll get information and networking opportunities.
6. Keep up-to-date with current trends. Read journals and magazines in your field.
7. Stay active. Participate in activities that interest you.
8. Network. Introduce yourself to the leaders in your profession.
9. Volunteer. Offer your time and talents to help those who need it.
10. Learn new things. Study and take courses to improve your knowledge and skills.
How to find a Good Occupational Therapist School
There are different ways to find good occupational therapist schools. Here are some suggestions:
- Ask friends and family members. They might know someone who has attended an occupational therapy program.
2. Search online. There are many websites that list accredited occupational therapy schools.
3. Check out national organizations. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) offers a directory of art and design programs. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) provides a listing of approved occupational therapy schools.
4. Contact your state board of education. They may have a database of accredited programs.
5. Visit the website of your state’s department of vocational rehabilitation. It may be able to direct you to accredited programs.
6. Talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a program based on your needs.
How to be Successful in your Occupational Therapist Career
To be successful in your occupational therapist career means having a fulfilling job, making a difference in the lives of others, and earning enough money to live comfortably.
To do this, you must be dedicated and persistent. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you pursue your career goals:
- Be honest. If you make mistakes, admit them.
2. Always strive to improve. Never settle for “good enough.”
3. Work hard. Put in extra effort at work. Make sure everything is done correctly.
4. Be flexible. Adapt to changes in your workplace. Every day, attempt to learn something new.
5. Be patient. Your occupation may not pay well right away. You may have to wait until you’ve gained more experience.
6. Have fun! Enjoy what you do.
7. Plan ahead. Think about how you’ll spend your spare time after you retire or leave school. What will you do? Where will you go? Who will you see?
8. Build relationships. Form friendships with people in your community.
9. Develop interests outside your career. Hobbies can provide enjoyment while also helping you relax and unwind.
10. Remember that life isn’t just about work. Spend time with your family and friends.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
An occupational therapist helps people recover from injuries and illnesses. An occupational therapist works closely with doctors, nurses, physical therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, and other health care professionals.
Qualities of a Good Occupational Therapist
These are the qualities of a good occupational therapist:
- Knowledgeable. A good occupational therapist should always be up-to-date on current research and trends in the field.
2. Professional. A good occupational therapist is courteous, respectful, and reliable.
3. Skilled. A good occupational therapist knows how to use his or her hands effectively. He or she is skilled at using tools such as crutches, wheelchairs, and splints.
4. Patient. A good occupational therapist has patience. This allows him or her to listen carefully to patients and their families.
5. Dedicated. A good occupational therapist wants to help patients achieve optimal function.
6. Creative. A good occupational therapist thinks creatively. He or she uses imagination and creativity to solve problems.
Occupational Therapist Salary
According to Salary.com, the starting income for an occupational therapist ranges from $84,817 to $100,862, with a base salary of $92,588 being the average.
Occupational Therapist Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs of occupational therapists is expected to go up by 17 percent between 2020 and 2030, far beyond than the average for all occupations.
Occupational therapist job opportunities are expected to be around 10,100 per year on average during the next decade.