The career path of occupational therapy involves hands-on sour helping patients with disabilities improve their capacity to engage in meaningful everyday activities. Working as an occupational therapist ( OT ) is a creative and rewarding means to make a difference in the lives of your patients every day .
To become an OT, you will need to complete sealed education and licensure requirements. This mail outlines what occupational therapy is and the steps you can take to get license and launch your career as an OT .
What Is Occupational Therapy?
occupational therapy is a branch of rehabilitative medicine that uses interventions to help patients who have a variety of cognitive and physical conditions. It emphasizes developing and maintaining the skills people need to perform the activities, or “ occupations, ” of casual life. OTs apply their inventiveness to find customize adaptive movements and technologies that help patients participate more fully in occupations like shape, play, leisure time, department of education, sociable interaction, and more. OTs besides work with patients on activities of casual living ( ADLs ), such as eat, bathe, getting dressed, and toileting.
Reading: How to Become an Occupational Therapist – Benefits & Job Opportunities – University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
What Do Occupational Therapists Do?1
Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who have physical and cognitive disabilities and differences. They begin by communicating with the affected role, teachers, syndicate, or caregivers to understand the affected role ’ south needs. next, they assess the affected role ’ s forcible, sensational, aroused, and cognitive capacities in order to develop goals and a treatment plan. together, the OT and affected role work on developing and improving skills, and they continue to evaluate the patient ’ s advancement on an ongoing basis .
The responsibilities of occupational therapy practitioners may include :
- Helping patients learn new ways to perform ADLs
- Creating customized solutions for patients to promote independence and healing
- Supporting patients in creating a daily routine, learning memory tricks, and problem-solving
- Teaching patients how to use assistive technology
- Teaching patients to perform tasks without pain
- Working with patients who have developmental and cognitive conditions such as autism, Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy
- Helping patients who have physical changes due to aging or injury, such as stroke, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or amputations
OTs customize their treatment plans to meet each patient ’ second needs. For model, occupational therapy helps people with autism spectrum perturb regulate their emotions and improve their motor skills, sociable skills, reaction to stimuli, etc .
What Are the Benefits of Becoming an Occupational Therapist?
many OTs appreciate the constancy and flexibility of their oeuvre. Because occupational therapy is a growing battlefield ( see “ Occupational Therapy Job Opportunities and Outlook ” below ), new opportunities are opening all the prison term. You can create your own creative recess within the sphere or even open your own practice. many employers offer flexible part-time or PRN ( when necessary ) work. Working as an OT is besides rewarding, because you have the chance to help people improve the quality of their lives .
once you are working as a accredited occupational therapist, you can specialize in a particular area, such as pediatrics or geriatrics. A kind of settings are available to you, from schools to residential facilities to acute care .
What Skills Do You Need to Be an Occupational Therapist?
In OT school, you will learn hands-on assessment and discussion skills. But before you begin, there are certain personal and professional qualities you can cultivate. The best OTs have strong communication skills and know how to work efficaciously in teams. They are creative problem-solvers, designing custom-make solutions for clients. They have empathy for their clients and display flexibility and patience .
How to Become an Occupational Therapist
To become an occupational therapist, you will need to earn both an undergraduate and alumnus degree and pass the want licensure exams. You can expect to spend six to seven years in school : four years for an undergraduate degree and two to three years for a graduate degree ( if you are attending school full-time ). 2 Below are the steps to becoming an occupational therapist .
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
If you ’ re looking to pursue a career in occupational therapy, it ’ sulfur best to earn your bachelor ’ s degree in a relevant area, such as biology, health science, or psychology. If you earn your bachelor ’ mho in an unrelated field, you may need to take prerequisite courses before applying to grad educate .
If you wish to become an occupational therapy assistant ( OTA ) preferably than an OT, you need only earn your consort degree in OT.
2. Earn a Graduate Degree
The following step is to earn a graduate degree from an accredit university. You can choose between a Master of Occupational Therapy ( MOT ) and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy ( OTD ) degree. In addition to the necessitate coursework, the course of study for both the MOT and the OTD will include the fieldwork hours you need to sit for the licensure examination .
If you are concerned in advocacy and leadership roles arsenic well as clinical practice, it ’ s a good idea to pursue an OTD rather than an MOT. If you are attending school wide time, an OTD typically requires three years to complete, while an MOT may take merely two years to complete. Both are entry-level degrees .
Some schools, such as the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences ( USAHS ), besides offer a Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy ( PPOTD ). This degree is for practicing OTs who have either a bachelor ’ s or master ’ randomness degree in occupational therapy and are looking to expand their cognition and credentials with a doctor’s degree degree. The PPOTD offers advanced studies in the areas of research skills, commit skills, administration, leadership, program growth, and education .
To help prepare for a graduate program interview, see our position on occupational therapy interview questions .
3. Become Certified
After completing either a MOT or OTD, you must pass the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapy ( NBCOT ) examination to be licensed to drill in the United States .
country license requirements may vary, so it ’ sulfur crucial to consult your state ’ s occupational therapy regulative agency .
4. How Long Does It Take to Become an OT?
If you already have a knight bachelor ’ south academic degree, it should take two to three years to earn a alumnus degree in OT, depending on the program and institution you choose. You should plan to spend between 30 and 90 days studying for and taking the NBCOT examination .
Opportunities for Specialization Within Occupational Therapy
After receiving your license to practice, you may consider working toward documentation in a specialization sphere. popular occupational therapy specialties include physical reclamation, driving and residential district mobility, geriatrics, pediatrics, and mental health. Keep in mind that most specialties require significant occupation experience ( the AOTA proposes 3,000 hours ) within that area. 3
Occupational Therapy Job Opportunities and Outlook
The profession of an occupational therapist is ranked # 11 in U.S. News & World Report ’ s 2022 Best Healthcare Jobs list. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for occupational therapists was $ 86,280 in 2020, and use of occupational therapists is projected to grow 17 percentage from 2020 to 2030. An estimate 23,000 jobs are expected to open up during that menstruation .
About 29 percentage of occupational therapists work in hospitals, while 25 percentage work in reconstructive practices that may include physical therapists, audiologists, and speech therapists. The remaining 46 percentage work in schools, dwelling healthcare services, skilled nursing facilities, and other settings. These numbers demonstrate a growing indigence for occupational therapists and that this discipline offers competitive pay in multiple environments.
Additional Resources for Occupational Therapists
The following organizations and websites can help you learn more about becoming an occupational therapist :
If you ’ ra interested in the associate occupation of physical therapy, see this station on how to become a physical therapist .
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences ( USAHS ) offers hands-on Master of Occupational Therapy ( MOT ) and Doctor of Occupational Therapy ( OTD ) degrees. Practice with mock patients in our state-of-the-art simulation centers and learn anatomy with our high-tech tools. Prepare for clinical practice with patients across the life, a well as advance roles in research, commit leadership, and policymaking. residential and Flex ( online/weekend ) paths are available. We besides offer an on-line Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy ( PPOTD ) program designed for working clinicians and healthcare educators, with optional on-campus immersions and an annual interprofessional trip abroad .
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Therapists,” last modified April 10, 2020: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/mobile/occupational-therapists.htm[↩]
- OT Potential, “How to Become an Occupational Therapist,” Aug. 21, 2019: https://otpotential.com/blog/become-an-occupational-therapist[↩]
- AOTA, “AOTA’s Advanced Certification Program,” https://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Advance-Career/Board-Specialty-Certifications-Exam.aspx[↩]
Category : How To
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