Occupation Therapists

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Occupation Therapists

Occupation Therapists


Education

What’s Needed:

  • You must hold a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in order to work as an independent OT.
  • You may be able to work as an assistant OT or as an intern if you hold only a bachelor’s degree or have just begun working towards your master’s.

What you study:

You will study all of the following in an occupational therapy program:

  • Human Occupations
  • Occupational Therapy Foundations and Philosophy
  • Occupational Performance
  • Professional Practices and Ethics
  • Research Analysis
  • Occupational Therapy Methods


Video Overview

Briefly recaps the occupational therapist career. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.


A Day in the Life

You provide targeted counseling to individuals with disabilities.

Your time as an occupational therapist or OT is spent helping individuals who have mental physical or emotional disabilities to live happy independent lives. Before you begin your hands-on work for the day you drop by the social services facility where you are employed. You check in with your supervisor to let her know what your schedule is like for the day. She asks you about your workload and lets you know that you’ll be getting a new client next week.

You’ll demonstrate different ways to handle physical tasks.

After you gather your client folders for the day you head to your first client’s home. A father of three he lost the use of one arm in an industrial accident. When you arrive at his house you spend some time talking to him to see what tasks that he feels comfortable completing and what tasks he still finds difficult. He tells you that he’s mastered self hygiene but is unable to help with his infant son. You use a doll to help him practice changing diapers feeding the baby and picking the baby up. You let your client know that you both can continue working on these skills when you return next week.

You can work with kids or adults in their homes schools or workplaces.

Your next client is a young woman who suffers from cerebral palsy. She is extremely intelligent but is struggling with continual loss of movement. This is your first meeting with this patient so you take time to get to know her. You talk with her about her daily challenges and start to work out a therapy plan. You’ll finish your plan over the next few days and will review it with her when you begin hands-on work next week.

Your clients will look to you as a trustworthy reliable role model.

You take a lunch break before heading to your next appointment. In the afternoon you work with an elderly woman who is suffering from memory loss and a young man who suffers from anxiety problems. You help both of these clients learn how to navigate daily challenges. When working with the young man you focus on how he can overcome problems in the workplace so that he can succeed in his chosen field.

At the end of the day you return to your office and update all client paperwork. You look over the next day’s schedule and place the files that you’ll need in a separate drawer. Before you head home you lock up all client files and check in with your boss again. You go and enjoy a relaxing evening so that you’re ready to head back to work tomorrow.


Certifications and Licensing

All states require that occupational therapists hold special licensing in order to practice. While requirements vary from state to state all states require that applicants hold at least an M.S. degree in occupational therapy. You may also be required to complete an internship and pass a background check.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most OTs work full-time schedules. However you may be able to work a part-time schedule if you focus on providing support for young children or if you work in a school setting.

Work location:

As an OT you can choose to work in your client’s homes or from a social services center. You may also work with children in a school setting. Regardless of where you work you will maintain an office where you store files and prepare therapy plans.


Recommended Websites

  • American Occupational Therapy Association: The AOTA website offers information about the field of occupational therapy for practitioners students and community members. The "Forums" and "Issues/Advocacy" sections of the site are particularly helpful for those who are interested in pursuing careers in occupational therapy.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Occupational Therapists: Published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this handbook offers information about salary averages and career projections in the field of occupational therapy. Some information is presented about education and workplace dynamics but interested students should be sure to consult sources that provide more well-rounded information about this field.
  • The American Occupational Therapy Foundation: AOTF’s website provides an excellent online library with many resources useful for professionals and students alike. Graduate-level students may also be interested in exploring the AOTF’s scholarship and grant programs.


Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

State City / Region Typical Salary Salary Range Job Count % of All Jobs
AK Anchorage $78940 $55K – $107K 110 0.06%
AL Birmingham – Hoover $68040 $43K – $96K 360 0.08%
AL Decatur $60930 $51K – $89K 30 0.07%
AL Dothan $83880 $63K – $115K 40 0.07%
AL Gadsden $83000 $63K – $113K 50 0.15%
AL Huntsville $74900 $22K – $101K 70 0.04%
AL Mobile $71650 $49K – $91K 90 0.06%
AL Montgomery $68240 $35K – $108K 90 0.06%
AL Tuscaloosa $58890 $33K – $88K 40 0.04%
AR Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers $89760 $53K – $116K 120 0.06%
AR Fort Smith $74440 $24K – $117K 60 0.05%
AR Hot Springs $48200 $21K – $73K 50 0.15%
AR Jonesboro $71930 $51K – $97K 60 0.12%
AR Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway $75240 $51K – $93K 430 0.13%
AZ Flagstaff $70350 $46K – $94K 30 0.06%
AZ Lake Havasu City $ Kingman $84370 $52K – $140K 30 0.07%
AZ Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale $77780 $41K – $97K 840 0.05%
AZ Prescott $74930 $60K – $124K 30 0.06%
AZ Tucson $78940 $52K – $112K 180 0.05%
CA Bakersfield – Delano $89850 $62K – $117K 130 0.05%
CA Fresno $86730 $65K – $113K 270 0.09%
CA Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area) $88120 $65K – $115K 2490 0.06%
CA Modesto $91110 $73K – $115K 80 0.05%
CA Napa $84910 $62K – $115K 40 0.06%
CA Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area) $93070 $56K – $117K 620 0.06%
CA Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura $83680 $55K – $102K 240 0.08%
CA Redding $85580 $29K – $105K 60 0.11%
CA Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario $88550 $66K – $116K 560 0.05%
CA Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville $77740 $29K – $113K 490 0.06%
CA Salinas $88310 $67K – $115K 70 0.04%
CA San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos $77600 $39K – $108K 990 0.08%
CA San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area) $92190 $59K – $115K 370 0.04%
CA San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara $90510 $51K – $114K 410 0.05%
CA San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles $67190 $53K – $94K 110 0.11%
CA Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area) $90950 $64K – $114K 1300 0.09%
CA Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta $85490 $74K – $98K 100 0.06%
CA Santa Cruz – Watsonville $84320 $57K – $100K 50 0.06%
CA Santa Rosa – Petaluma $82460 $65K – $96K 100 0.06%
CA Stockton $93280 $61K – $143K 90 0.05%
CA Vallejo – Fairfield $85890 $76K – $103K N/A N/A
CA Visalia – Porterville $92370 $70K – $117K N/A N/A
CO Boulder $78930 $60K – $99K 160 0.10%
CO Colorado Springs $71010 $54K – $100K 220 0.09%
CO Denver – Aurora – Broomfield $76030 $55K – $96K 1580 0.13%
CO Fort Collins – Loveland $71810 $52K – $93K 150 0.11%
CO Grand Junction $72190 $26K – $90K 70 0.13%
CO Greeley $70550 $53K – $118K 90 0.12%
CO Pueblo $78910 $46K – $126K 50 0.09%
CT Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk $81320 $58K – $116K 390 0.09%
CT Danbury $85700 $67K – $117K 80 0.12%
CT Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford $85120 $62K – $116K 730 0.13%
CT New Haven $83990 $63K – $114K 270 0.10%
CT Norwich – New London $81630 $62K – $105K 110 0.09%
CT Waterbury $78180 $61K – $140K 80 0.13%
DC Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area) $83390 $56K – $116K 1060 0.05%
DE Wilmington (Metro Area) $79100 $63K – $112K 220 0.07%
FL Cape Coral – Fort Myers $87720 $64K – $157K 140 0.07%
FL Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach $86490 $67K – $115K 130 0.09%
FL Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area) $84650 $44K – $110K 660 0.09%
FL Gainesville $65460 $30K – $93K 210 0.18%
FL Jacksonville $80970 $63K – $125K 620 0.11%
FL Lakeland – Winter Haven $59450 $35K – $94K 90 0.05%
FL Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area) $73980 $51K – $94K 690 0.07%
FL Naples – Marco Island $85320 $65K – $97K 90 0.07%
FL North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota $71590 $49K – $93K 290 0.12%
FL Ocala $82120 $65K – $109K 110 0.12%
FL Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford $80630 $53K – $106K 370 0.04%
FL Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville $72110 $30K – $91K 220 0.12%
FL Palm Coast $21870 $20K – $61K N/A N/A
FL Panama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach $70390 $60K – $88K 40 0.06%
FL Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent $76650 $63K – $101K 110 0.07%
FL Port St. Lucie $78220 $55K – $108K 100 0.08%
FL Punta Gorda $74090 $54K – $102K 70 0.17%
FL Sebastian – Vero Beach $81110 $47K – $107K 50 0.11%
FL Tallahassee $81680 $63K – $105K 140 0.09%
FL Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater $84320 $64K – $160K 1020 0.09%
FL West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area) $79860 $55K – $95K 350 0.07%
GA Albany $75860 $43K – $101K 30 0.05%
GA Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta $76300 $49K – $96K 1290 0.06%
GA Augusta – Richmond County $71060 $50K – $90K 140 0.07%
GA Columbus $76560 $58K – $98K 50 0.05%
GA Dalton $66900 $53K – $78K 40 0.06%
GA Gainesville $83510 $65K – $111K 50 0.08%
GA Macon $82450 $62K – $114K 100 0.11%
GA Rome $86390 $67K – $109K 30 0.09%
GA Savannah $71550 $57K – $100K 70 0.05%
GA Valdosta $76960 $62K – $113K N/A N/A
GA Warner Robins $53220 $38K – $90K N/A N/A
HI Honolulu $72300 $53K – $90K 360 0.08%
IA Ames $62620 $48K – $75K 40 0.09%
IA Cedar Rapids $68000 $48K – $89K 100 0.07%
IA Davenport – Moline – Rock Island $67940 $51K – $96K 140 0.08%
IA Des Moines – West Des Moines $70440 $52K – $104K N/A N/A
IA Iowa City $73110 $54K – $109K 80 0.10%
IA Sioux City $68140 $40K – $89K N/A N/A
IA Waterloo – Cedar Falls $67770 $50K – $103K 90 0.10%
ID Boise City – Nampa $71810 $52K – $92K 170 0.06%
ID Coeur d’Alene ID $71810 $54K – $132K 40 0.08%
ID Pocatello $18720 $16K – $82K 70 0.22%
IL Champaign – Urbana $75960 $54K – $94K N/A N/A
IL Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area) $76780 $40K – $107K 3070 0.08%
IL Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area) $76710 $27K – $114K 220 0.06%
IL Peoria $67830 $51K – $89K 100 0.05%
IL Rockford $76010 $49K – $1ign=”center”>$52K – $106K 30 0.08%
IN Bloomington $65400 $30K – $110K 40 0.06%
IN Elkhart – Goshen $72900 $37K – $107K 40 0.04%
IN Evansville $68270 $49K – $90K 120 0.07%
IN Fort Wayne $77340 $52K – $97K 190 0.10%
IN Gary (Metro Area) $81780 $56K – $110K 220 0.08%
IN Indianapolis – Carmel $78550 $52K – $109K 950 0.11%
IN Lafayette $75240 $37K – $131K 70 0.08%
IN South Bend – Mishawaka $64920 $39K – $87K 70 0.06%
IN Terre Haute $75530 $52K – $96K 60 0.10%
KS Lawrence $80140 $46K – $102K 50 0.10%
KS Topeka $70150 $52K – $94K 170 0.16%
KS Wichita $88890 $66K – $113K 150 0.05%
KY Elizabethtown $124760 $63K – $149K 60 0.13%
KY Lexington – Fayette $78380 $54K – $106K 260 0.11%
KY Louisville – Jefferson County $73680 $55K – $100K 610 0.10%
LA Alexandria $77100 $50K – $108K 100 0.16%
LA

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