Occupational Therapist Job Description
Occupational therapists work with patients who have suffered injuries, disabilities, or illnesses that impact their ability to live or work normally.
Occupational therapists help patients in many different ways, depending on their specific needs. Depending on the nature of their disability, patients may need help performing basic tacks, learning how to use equipment (such as wheel chairs or walkers), or living more independently.
Occupational therapists assess their patients needs and work with them to develop treatment goals. With the treatment goals in place, they are able to create plans to help their patients achieve them.
Treatment can take many forms, including exercise, motor skill development, or the introduction of new equipment that can make it easier for patients to accomplish certain tasks.
Responsibilities for occupational therapists include:
- Recommending changes in their patients’ living and working environments that will improve their quality of life.
- Evaluating patients through observation and conversation to determine their specific needs.
- Recommending equipment that can help patients in their daily lives.
Work Environment and Schedule
Depending on their professional preferences and area of expertise, occupational therapists may work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes, or in their patients’ homes.
This can be a physically demanding profession, as occupational therapists often have to move heavy equipment. Since their patients may lack motor skills, they may have to help lift or move their patients as well.
The working schedule for occupational therapists varies depending on the environment they work in. Those who work in doctor’s offices may enjoy regular working schedules, while those who work in hospitals may be required to work irregular hours (including weekends and holidays).
How to Become an Occupational Therapist
A master’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy program is required if you want to become an occupational therapist.
If you think that you might want to become an occupational therapist, it’s best to decide as quickly as you can. Occupational therapy programs require very specific undergraduate coursework, which can be difficult to earn if you get a late start. Some programs also require that you have spent time working in an occupational therapy setting before considering your application.
All states require a license to perform occupational therapy. Some requirements vary from state to state, but most require the successful completion of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Exam
There are currently 108,800 occupational therapists in the United States, with 5,710 new occupational therapist job openings created each year.
Occupational Therapist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Occupational Therapist Salaries
Occupational Therapist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most occupational therapists make between $61,500 – $88,800 per year, or $29.58 – $42.69 per hour.