If you’re a person who is interested in helping others, compassionate, patient, and who has good communication skills, and the ability to be adaptable. Then, occupational Therapy (OT) may be a career for you.
Before jumping right into a decision, understand that OT is a professional career that requires higher-level education, certification from National and State boards, as well as being able to take on continuing education to maintain compliance.
What Is Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists treat injured or disabled patients by helping patients develop, recover, improve and maintain daily living skills and activities. Over half of all occupational therapists work in or around hospitals, while the other half work in schools, nursing homes, and home health services.
During therapy, an occupational therapist will review a patient’s medical history and evaluate their condition and need.
From that information, the therapist will generate a treatment plan specific to the patient’s needs, identifying types of activities and goals with each. If treating minor pain and discomfort, such as treating Achilles Tendonitis, for example, an occupational therapist will create a treatment plan of stretching and strengthening exercises specific to the sufferer’s needs.
Other forms of assistance are to help the disabled learn gross motor skills and to help rehabilitate gross motor skills in people that have suffered a life-changing event, such as a stroke victim re-learning how to get dressed.
Be aware that careers in OT aren’t always easy. There are times when working in OT can be challenging. Any position that deals with the public are bound to have some issues, either with people that have difficulties in social situations or dealing with the by-products of those in therapy, like bodily fluids.
Despite this, OT is an excellent career choice for individuals who are interested in helping others, working in healthcare, making a positive impact on others’ lives, and interested in learning more about human body mechanics.
Benefits Of A Career In Occupational Therapy
As a career, Occupational Therapy offers numerous benefits. A primary benefit of OT is assisting people to live more comfortably and rehabilitating for a better quality of life, but it also includes;
- Flexible Schedules
- Choice of Workplace
- Job Satisfaction
- Comfortable Salary
Flexible Schedules: Careers in OT provide you with opportunities to work around your own preferences, whether it’s full-time or part-time, with the opportunity to work a standard 9 to 5 shift, weekends, or evenings to accommodate patients’ schedules.
Choice of Work Place: Careers in occupational therapy provide individuals with the option to work in local, state, and private hospitals. It also offers the opportunity to work in private practice, elementary and secondary schools, home healthcare services, and nursing facilities.
Job Satisfaction: Careers that focus on assisting others report higher job satisfaction than jobs that don’t. OT provides direct involvement with patients and their development, providing a positive feedback loop for both the OT and the patient.
Additionally, the range of people you’ll come into contact with, from kids to seniors, will provide you with plenty of opportunities to impact people’s lives, increasing positively overall job satisfaction.
Comfortable Salary: The average salary for OT specialists tops $87,000, with high-end earners topping $123,000. The industry is expected to grow by double-digits in the coming years, making a career in OT an attractive option.
How To Start Your Career In Occupational Therapy
To get started in a career in Occupational Therapy, the first thing you’ll need is to get a Master of Occupational Therapy degree from an accredited institution by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy.
Typically, to get into an accredited OT program, applicants will need a bachelor’s degree in healthcare or related fields with coursework in biology, physiology, and other sciences.
Additionally, some programs require applicants to volunteer or work in an OT setting.
The typical timeline for a Master of Occupational Therapy will take between 2-3 years, and some schools will offer a doctoral program that may take nearly 4 years to complete.
Post-degree work, states require licensing that varies by state, and all states require a passing grade on the national examination from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and followed up with continuing education to maintain certification.
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