Looking for an altruistic job helping people and making a six-figure salary? A degree and career in occupational therapy may be right for you!
Occupational therapists (OTs) treat injured, ill, and disabled patients from infancy through older age. OTs help patients develop, recover, improve, and maintain skills needed for daily living and working. This is accomplished through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, adaptive skills, and supportive devices.
A career as an OT requires a graduate level education. Students may choose occupational therapy as a major from the start of their education, enter it during their graduate level study, or take a bridge program from their current career as a certified occupational therapy assistant.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment of occupational therapists will grow nearly 20% percent by 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, from infancy through geriatric age.
The need for occupational therapists is expected to increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Specifically, this generation has demonstrated a desire to age in place and remain active throughout their golden years. Occupational therapists help older adults maintain their independence through modifications in their home and chosen activities. In addition, OTs are skilled in the treatment of many conditions and ailments of older age such as arthritis, stroke recovery, and rehabilitation from surgeries.
Occupational therapists can also work with pediatric patients. They work with patients that have a specific disability and they also work with young patients to circumvent potential disabilities by working on developmental skills. OTs treat a wide variety of patients including those with chronic conditions, long-term disabilities, and terminal illnesses along with those patients needing short term, outpatient treatments.
OTs work in a variety of settings including:
nursing care facilities
home settings for home health services
schools and education centers
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for occupational therapists is $85,000. The highest 10 percent earned more than $121,000. The median annual wages for occupational therapists in the top industries in which they work are:
Nursing care facilities
Home healthcare services
Hospitals; state, local, and private
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private
Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
Becoming an OT requires a graduate level education. Therefore, students can choose from a wide range of bachelor degrees and majors since this undergraduate education is merely the first step in becoming an OT. It is recommended that students wishing to enter an OT master’s program choose a complementary undergraduate major such as kinesiology, biology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, or sociology.
Most graduate OT programs will have prerequisites, including a GPA threshold, that incoming students must obtain either prior to or dependent upon acceptance. Therefore, there are many bachelor degree programs that are specifically designed to prepare a student for a graduate level OT program. Such degree programs are highly desirable by both students and graduate OT programs as they more than adequately prepare students for their future studies and careers in occupational therapy.
Ready to begin your bachelor’s degree to become an occupational therapist? Check out these undergraduate programs at some of our partner schools:
The College of Saint Rose offers a collaborative Occupational Therapy (4+2) program. Students earn a Bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Rose and matriculate into a Master of Science program from the Sage Graduate School. Students will graduate with Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the Sage Graduate School, the only accredited master-level Occupational Therapy Program in the Capital District and Upstate Region of New York. The College of Saint Rose participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.
University of Cincinnati online offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, Pre-Occupational Therapy degree. This program is ideal for an Occupational Therapy Assistant looking to advance their career with a bachelor’s degree or a student beginning their academic studies seeking to become an OT. The University of Cincinnati online participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.
Northwest Missouri StateUniversity offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology or Psychology for Pre-Occupational Therapy. Northwest Missouri State University does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon program.
Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
A Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from an accredited program is the penultimate step in becoming an occupational therapist. After completing the graduate level studies to become an OT there is a national exam for certification. States also reserve the right to impose additional licensure, certifications, etc.
There are a wide variety of jobs, specialties, and employment opportunities for OTs.
Jobs you can obtain with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy include:
Occupational Therapist- assess, plan, and organize rehabilitative programs that help build or restore vocational, homemaking, and daily living skills. Median annual salary: $86,000
Health Services Manager- plan, direct, and coordinate occupational therapy services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations. Median annual salary: $115,000
Occupational Therapy Postsecondary Teacher- instruct courses in occupational therapy at the undergraduate level. Median annual salary: $122,000
Ready to begin your master’s degree to become an occupational therapist? Check out these undergraduate programs at some of our partner schools!
New England Institute of Technology offers a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) or Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (PP-OTD)
New England Tech’s MSOT is a hybrid curriculum offered with weekend classes and online learning that prepares students for certification as registered occupational therapists. New England Institute of Technology participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.
Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.