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Career Exploration: Occupational Therapy

Gracie A. Ardolf
University of Minnesota Duluth


Table of Contents
Table of Contents


Job Responsibilities/ Duties
Training Required

Potential Growth

Job Outlook Over the Next 5-10 Years

Salary Information



Career Exploration: Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy deals with rehabilitation and health. They help
achieve an individuals independence and boost productivity needed for daily
living (Mayo School of Health Sciences 2015). They treat all ages injured, ill,
or disabled to help live life to the fullest. This would include people with
emotional, physical, or social problems. An occupational therapist works with
a patient side by side to help them take care of themselves and participate in
activities. Some of these daily activities include driving, eating, tying a shoe,
or working. Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings that include
hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and schools (Occupational Therapists
2014). Examples of working in these settings would be helping a child with
autism that is struggling in school or helping an elderly person become more
active. They use work, play, and self care to aid patients. Their overall goal is
to assist individuals to develop and recover daily work and living for the rest
of their lives (Occupational Therapists).
Job Responsibilities/ Duties
Occupational therapists help achieve an individuals independence. On a
daily basis they observe patients, record their input, and review their cases.
They evaluate a patients needs based on how well they performed their
daily living skills. To help these patients they demonstrate and walk patients
through daily exercises. Examples of this would include doing stretches for
pain relief, arm mobility, and doing simple exercises with increasing the load
of exercise each time (Townsend & Polatajko). By doing so, they may practice

these exercises in a patients home or workplace based on the patients
needs. Occupational therapists use a variety of equipment to perform these
tasks, such equipment includes aids, wheelchairs, or instruct the patient to
use specific equipment with the task they are trying to learn such as a shoe
or utensil.
Training Required
An occupational therapist requires a bachelors degree, a masters
degree, and a degree in the field of occupational therapy. They also require a
state license to practice, special training, and specific skills (Occupational
Therapists). There are three steps into becoming and occupational therapist.
First, a bachelors degree is needed. A person may major in psychology,
anthropology, or sociology although there may be a few exceptions (Kuther &
Morgan). If a person is headed on the right path a bachelors degree should
take four years and could possibly take three if summer classes are taken.
The next step is gaining a masters degree. This will approximately take a
person two years to complete. In the masters program a person will learn
about anatomy, patient care, and assistive technology (About Occupational
Therapy). When completing the masters program fieldwork experience is
very essential. Fieldwork would be completed in nursing homes, rehab
centers, and schools. This takes about 24 weeks to complete to be done with
the masters program (Townsend & Polatajko). Specific training required to
become an occupational therapist would include cardiopulmonary

resuscitation training and basic cardiac life support training (About
Occupational Therapy).
In addition to a bachelors degree, masters degree, completing field
work, and receiving special training, next on the list is getting an
occupational therapy license. A person must have graduated from an
occupational therapy program, completed fieldwork, and have passed the
NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists) exam
(Townsend & Polatajko). After all the requirements are met a person may be
granted the OTR (Occupational Therapist Registered Credential). Important
skills to have becoming an occupational therapist would include excellence in
communication, compassion, patience, and good writing skills (About
Occupational Therapy).
Potential Growth
Potential growth for occupational therapists would be to obtain and get a
doctorate degree. Most job openings are looking for only those who have
gone through a doctorate program (About Occupational Therapy). Another
area for potential growth would be to specialize in a certain area of
occupational therapy. Advanced knowledge in a specific area of occupational
therapy will make a person perform tasks at an expertise level.
Job Outlook Over the Next 5-10 Years
The job outlook for occupational therapists is continuing to grow.
Occupational therapists will always be needed in the near future. They are
needed in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes,

and clinics. People will always continue to seek outpatient care and
treatment. According to Occupational Therapist Association, occupational
therapy is projected to grow 29% from 2012 to 2022 (How to Obtain Your
Occupational Therapy Degree 2007). Its projected to grow faster than
average and most other careers. Medical advances are continuing to
increase, this would mean more people are getting injured, experiencing
heart and brain defects, and even memory loss (About Occupational
Therapy). More people are needing assistance to help perform daily living
tasks. Another thing to keep in mind is the access to occupational therapy
services that may increase the federal health insurance reform.

Salary Information
Occupational therapy is a job with high demand. Over the past years
salaries have risen. The average annual wage for an occupational therapist is
$75,400 but depending if a person is specialized within a certain area they
have the potential to make more (How to Obtain Your Occupational Therapy
Degree 2007). Also, depending on regional differences and setting
differences certain factors will affect the salary. An occupational therapist will
make the most in metropolitan areas. These areas include different areas in
Texas, Las Vegas, and South Carolina (How to Obtain Your Occupational
Therapy Degree 2007). Lastly, most occupational therapists work full time,
work nights and weekends.

Occupational therapists focus their work on identifying and fixing barriers
to better someones life to independence and participation in daily tasks.
They work with people to achieve a persons potential end goal. They help
others adapt to their new environment, teaching new skills, and educating
others on better performance of daily activities. Occupational therapists work
close with other healthcare workers such as physical therapists, social
workers, and the community (Mayo School of Health Sciences 2015). Once a
person obtains a major in psychology, occupational therapy is the way to go.
It is a career that is continuing to grow and always looking for new people to
take over when the baby boomers are gone. Occupational therapy is a
rewarding job and in the end is worth it!

Mayo School of Health Sciences. (2015, March 27). Retrieved October 14,
Occupational Therapists. (2014, January 8). Retrieved October 14, 2015.
How to Obtain Your Occupational Therapy Degree. (2007). Retrieved October
14, 2015.
About Occupational Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Townsend, E., & Polatajko, H. (n.d.). Enabling Occupation II. Retrieved
October 14, 2015.
Kuther, T., & Morgan, R. (n.d.). Careers in psychology: Opportunities in a
changing world (Fourth ed.). Retrieved October 21, 2015.