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Things to Consider When Choosing an Occupational Therapy Program

Occupational Therapist and Occupational Therapist Assistant positions are among the fastest growing jobs in America. If you want a stable, well-paying job that provides you the satisfaction of helping others improve their lives and become more independent , occupational therapy might be the career for you! Employment opportunities for occupational therapists are expected to grow more than 27% through 2014, as more jobs become available in nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, and schools. Whether you want to work with children or adults, occupational therapy can be an incredibly rewarding and fun career!

Job Description
An occupational therapist works to help patients with physical, emotional, mental, or developmental disabilities gain the ability to lead independent and productive lives. Occupational therapists outline a customized treatment plan, and occupational therapist assistants help patients with the rehabilitative exercises and activities prescribed in the given treatment plan.

Some therapists and assistants choose to specialize in a particular disability or age group. For example, a therapy assistant can work with elderly patients suffering from arthritis, Alzheimer’s, or stroke, or they can work with newborns or children with birth injuries or learning disabilities. Other specialties include eating disorders, work-related injuries, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress.

Programs to Consider:

Education Requirements
Becoming an occupational therapist requires a master's degree with coursework in biological, physical, and behavioral sciences and six months of supervised clinical experience. In addition, someone interested in becoming an occupational therapist will need to pass the national certification exam to become an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). Of course, with more responsibility comes a higher salary.

The requirements for an occupational therapy assistant are not as demanding, but the salary is also not as high as that of an occupational therapist. With a 2-year associate’s degree in occupational therapy, you can be on your way to a great career as an occupational therapy assistant! Occupation therapy associate’s degrees include coursework in health care, anatomy, basic medical terminology, mental health, gerontology, and pediatrics. In addition, students must complete 16 weeks of clinical fieldwork and pass a national certification exam to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Salary Range
Occupational therapy is a satisfying job – and a well-paying one too! Occupational therapists earned an average of $66,780 annually, with the highest 10% earning more than $98,310. Occupational therapy assistants earned an average of $48,230, with the highest 10% earning more than $65,160.

  • All States regulate the practice of occupational therapy. To obtain a license, applicants must graduate from an accredited educational program and pass a national certification examination.
  • Occupational therapists are expected to continue their professional development by participating in continuing education courses and workshops
  • Therapists may specialize in gerontology, mental health, pediatrics, and physical rehabilitation.