How to become an Occupational Therapist?

How to become an occupational therapist?

What is meant by occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is simply the physical, physiological and psychological exercises that improve or develop the abilities of patients with functional disabilities, different congenital disorders such as down’s syndrome, speech disorders, visual defects, hearing defects, different mental disorders, etc. to a level that they can proceed simple day to day activities alone. These therapies help to upgrade their quality of life and develop their self-confidence to face the barriers they get to come up with in life. We will discuss how to become a occupational therapist in this article here.

Some disabilities may be cured 100% by using therapies, while some may show a little improvement, but the complete recovery could not be gained. In the modern world, people have stepped forward to go to these therapies and improve their functional abilities without just giving up in life as in the past. This is a good sign. So these therapies are done by professional therapists who have trained to proceed with the necessary physical, mental and physiological exercises to the relevant patients. 

Some examples for occupational therapy are, 

  • Personal care activities that an individual proceed in day to day life (brushing teeth, combing hair, buttoning clothes, etc.)
  • Hand and eye coordination (writing, sewing, coloring, drawing, doing indoor games such as chess and card games)
  • Fine motor skills (grasping a pencil and controlling it, using scissors and normal utensils that are used in the day to day life)

What is the role of an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist is a skilled healthcare professional who treats injured, disabled, or malfunctioned patients through therapeutic activities regularly. They can help patients improve, develop, or recover from their malfunctioning body organs and maintain the skills needed for day-to-day life. They treat patients of all ages to live their life to the fullest by curing their disabilities and enhancing their quality of life. Because through therapies, a patient can develop his/ her self-confidence and improve their social relationships, an occupational therapist should focus on a patient’s psychological development. 

Occupational therapists deviate into different fields such as pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, neurologists, visual therapists, auditory and speech therapists, physical rehabilitation, oncological rehabilitation, and mental health development counselors. In every basic hospital, these occupational therapists are hired. They are hired by hospitals and nursing homes, private dispensaries, residential care facilities, outpatient rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, etc.

How can you become a trained occupational therapist?

To be an occupational therapist, an individual should have thorough training on physiological, physical, and social aspects of human functioning, deriving from an education based on anatomical and physiological perspectives. Also, this training focuses on the psychological aspects of a patient as well. 

You will need to complete an undergraduate degree of four years minimum. You will have to train in an occupational therapy school or any similar institution for two to three years.

These requirements may change from country to country, but in the U. S. you may need to go through five steps. And those are,

  1. You should earn a bachelor’s degree including the modules such as,
    • Developmental psychology
    • Abnormal psychology
    • Behavioral science
    • Human anatomy and physiology I and II (with lab)
    • Elementary statistics
  2. You should complete observation hours and GRE (graduate record examination)
  3. Decide between an MOT and DOT and get into a program
  4. Pass the NBCOT/ national board exam
  5. Obtain a license in your state

What are the best schools to learn occupational therapy in the U. S.?

There are a lot of schools around the united states for you to learn occupational therapy. You may come across many rankings about these schools, but even though you graduate from a lower-ranked school, ultimately, you will get the same jobs with the same salary scales within the country. So the school where you gain the degree won’t matter much. But an impressive resume and fieldwork assignments can lead you to good jobs or help you stand out among similar graduates of occupational therapy. 

But if you still wish to attend a top ranked school here are the top schools for you. This is according to “US news and World Report”.

  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Boston University
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Illinois, Chicago
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Colorado State University
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Tuffs University
  • University of Kansas Medical Centre
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Columbia University
  • New York University
  • Ohio State University

When you are selecting a school, make sure to check whether the program offers a master’s degree or doctorate, the level of cost of living and the location, course fees, the quality of fieldwork opportunities, the NBCOT pass rates, class sizes, program completion rate, job placement assistance, the facility, and equipment, etc. 

What are the Job opportunities for occupational therapists in the U. S.?

Okay, if you have earned the required qualifications so far, the next step is looking for a good job. If you take time and search on the internet, you may develop so many websites that offer job opportunities for occupational therapists. You can readily apply online on some sites, while some sites provide you with the needed information. For updating you about the newest job opportunities in the U. S., here you go.

Clinical occupational therapy specialistDMC Rehabilitation Institute, Detroit, Michigan
Certified occupational therapy assistantSt. Francis hospital, Bartlett, Michigan
Occupational therapist Avant healthcare professionals, Casselberry
Occupational therapistThe mentor network, round rock, TX
Occupational therapistThe services, Inc., Buffalo
Federal occupational therapistVeterans health administration
Occupational therapistMercy, Springfield, MO
Occupational therapistMedical facilities of America, Gretna, VA
Lead Occupational therapistVeterans health administration, north Chicago
DSHS DDA Certified Occupational therapy assistantState of Washington, medical lake, WA
Occupational therapist/ Pottstown, PAFOX Rehabilitation, Pennsylvania
Occupational therapist/ Job in TallahasseeThe execu search group, Tallahassee, Florida
Occupational therapist (acute care)Stanford healthcare, Palo Alto, CA
Occupational therapistsparrow, Lansing, MI
Occupational therapistTherxservices, Inc., Abilene, KS
Occupational therapist ICounty of contra costa, US
Occupational therapistProvidence, Medford, OR
Occupational therapistWickenburg Community hospital, Wickenburg, AZ
Occupational therapistLTAC Hospital, Kindred, Perris, CA
Occupational therapistChildren’s health, Plano, TX
Occupational therapist/ Travel Occupational therapistAmerican traveler, Redding, CA
Occupational therapist for home healthFeld care connects, American canyon, CA
Occupational therapistUCHealth, woodland park, CO
Occupational therapistVeterans health administration, Ottumwa, IA
Occupational therapistSNF/LTC, central healthcare solutions, Marion, IA
Occupational therapist, Per Diem Weekends, Acute careAdventist healthcare, silver spring, MD
Occupational therapist, Montgomery countyKennedy Krieger Institution, silver spring, MD
Occupational therapisttherapy travelers, Schererville, IN
Occupational therapistthe mentor network, rounrock, TX
Occupational therapist( federal), veterans’ health administration, north port, NY
Occupational therapistMercy, Springfield, MO
Occupational therapistmedical facilities of America, Gretna, VA
Lead Occupational therapistVeterans health administration, North Chicago, IL

How about the salaries?

According to the records, an average payment for an occupational therapist in the united states vary from $60K to $70k. Generally, occupational therapists make a lot of money in the field as newcomers after graduation. But the salary increments and promotions are not gained very often due to the nature of the job. Therefore, as in other industries, their salary doesn’t rise rapidly, it’s in the same range for a longer work period. 

When you step out of school as a graduate, there’s no specific amount of salary that you can predict to have. It can be varying according to your field, experiences in clinical work, the number of hours and days you work, the place you work in, the number of patients you treat within a specific time, etc. So according to AOTA, a new graduate earns an average of $59k per year in the beginning.

Well, if you are wondering what the highest paying OT jobs in the U. S. are, according to WebPT’s occupational therapist salary guide, the research and development (nonclinical jobs), home health, and skilled nursing facilities (SNF) offer the highest payments. But also, the number of patients you get to treat is a factor when considering your salary. 

Anyway to get a high paying job as an OT you will have to consider below factors.

  • You can specialize in one field.
  • You can work in a high paying state: for example,
    • Nevada- $100,970 per yr.
    • New Jersey- $96,600 per yr.
    • California- $95,160 per yr.
    • Arizona- $94,800 per yr.
    • Columbia- $ 94,360 per yr.
  • Go to academic, research and development, and other nonclinical fields you can step into. But also, some nonclinical fields don’t pay as much as clinical jobs. Some of the high-paying fields are sales, clinical educators, clinical specialists, account managers, sales representatives, recruiters, rehab liaisons, etc.
  • You can step into the travel Occupational therapist field
  • You can work PRN (or per diem)
  • And also you can negotiate your salary. Negotiating for a satisfactory salary is completely a right of a skilled occupational therapist. You must collect some reliable evidence to prove the salaries of other comparable positions in the field. 

Still if you need to know the exact average salaries of different fields of occupational therapists, here you go,

Skilled nursing facilities$83k per yr.
Home healthcare services$82k per yr.
Speech therapists$78k per yr.
Audiologists$78k per yr.
Clinical occupational therapists in hospitals $75k per yr.
Health services manager $100k per yr.
Nurse practitioner $105k per yr.
Neuropsychologist$102 per yr.
Biomedical engineer$88k per yr.
Radiation therapist $86k per yr.
Speech language pathologist $82k per yr.
Clinical psychologist $78k per yr.
Counseling psychologist$78k per yr.
Genetic counselor$82k per yr.
Physical therapist$ 90k per yr.
Registered nurse$ 77k per yr.
Occupational therapy aide$ 34k per yr.
Occupational therapy assistant$ 61k per yr.

What are the top companies in the U. S.?

Gento $89.39 per hour
Therapy matters, Inc. $71.11 per hour
Sutter health$70.36 per hour
Theracare$69.03 per hour
Outreach physical and occupational therapists$64.69 per hour
Stern at home therapy$64.37 per hour
TMC( Therapy management center) $62.97 per hour
LHC Group$61.87 per hour
Lifelong therapeutics$60.89 per hour
Functional pathways $57.82 per hour
Presbyterian healthcare services$55.35 per hour
Therapy source, Inc.54.58 per hour
Ampersand therapy$53.96 per hour
Solace pediatric home healthcare$53.85 per hour
Professional home healthcare$52.46 per hour

There are a lot of other companies that provide OT jobs as well. But these are the topmost companies within the united states that provide the highest salaries. If you are keen on applying, you may search some websites for more details.  

After all what are the duties and responsibilities of an occupational therapist?

To become an occupational therapist, your academic knowledge is not enough if you don’t have additional skills such as patience, determination, enthusiasm, good interpersonal communication skills, interest in working closely with people, good team working skills, ability to find solutions to problems, etc. You will have to handle stressful situations while working. As you will have to work with patients of different ages, you may need to practice different communication tactics to handle each situation. You will have to focus solely on your work for a prolonged time to notice the improvements of a patient over time. 

Your primary duty is to give physical, physiological, or mental therapies to a patient and work towards their progress. This is a very satisfactory job because the improvements of your patients will encourage you to work in a better mood. You will have to treat them with kindness and empathy. And also, when dealing with the patients, you will have to practice psychological development of them as well. It is your responsibility to build their self-confidence and support them with gaining morals to live a successful life. Especially when dealing with pediatric patients, you may have to counsel them while giving physical therapies. Ultimately, this job is one of the most precious jobs in the world because it lightens up some person’s entire life. 

Also read Top 10 Massage Therapist Interview Questions To Prepare

How to become an Occupational Therapist?

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