Occupational therapists work with patients who need to recover the ability to perform tasks in living and working environments. These patients are often people who have lost motor skills and/or mental capacity to physical trauma or to mental incidents such as a stroke.
An occupational therapists works with patients on a task oriented basis, helping to reestablish physical capabilities such as dressing, cooking, using a computer, or putting together a shopping list. Often the therapist is working to redevelop skills requiring mental acuity and will develop exercises for the brain as well as the body and limbs. Some patients have permanent disabilities; for these people an occupational therapist will train in the use of adaptive equipment.
A masters degree in occupational therapy is the baseline educational requirement for entry into the field. Coursework in occupational therapy programs include the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences. Application of occupational therapy skills is tested as well during six months of required, supervised fieldwork.
All states and the District of Columbia require licensure. Applicants must have graduated from an accredited educational program for occupational therapy. There is a national exam for accreditation; those that pass are awarded the designation Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR).
There are about 100,000 active occupational therapists currently practicing in the United States.
Job opportunities for this profession are increasing much faster than the national average for all professions. Increasing numbers of elderly are in need of assistance from an occupational therapist.
Lowest 10% $21.80 $45,340
Median Salary $33.48 $69,630
Highest 10% $48.28 $100,430