How to Find a Job in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a career that holds a great deal of promise for the next decade and beyond.  It is expected to grow much faster, about thirty-three percent thought 2020, than the average for other careers.  This fast growth is in part due to the returning wounded soldiers who will need support to heal and work with any lifelong difficulties that result from their injuries.  An occupational therapist assists patients with the habits of everyday living when recovering from an injury or surgery or an illness.  If you are interested in helping people in this manner, then finding occupational therapy schools in your area can be the first step into this career.

In order to become an occupational therapist, you must earn a Master's degree and you must pass a state licensing test in order to work.  Since a Master's degree usually takes about two years to complete, some occupational therapy schools offer a dual degree program so that the student can complete the Bachelor's degree and continue toward their Master's in the same program.  There is a clinical or practical portion of this degree in addition to the coursework.  Depending on the program this can take several months to complete and can be done in a hospital or clinic or sometimes a doctor's office or combined medical practice with other specialties, such as physical therapy, audiology and speech pathology.

Occupational therapy salary scales are based somewhat on the location of the therapist.  In an individual or family practice or in a hospital, the salary might be a bit lower than in a home health care service simply because the itinerant position needs a bit more compensation than one based in one place.  The median occupational therapy salary in 2010 came in just over seventy-two thousand dollars.  Many occupational therapists work hours that include nights and weekends so that clients can have access to the services when it works best for their schedules. Of course depending on where the therapist works, the schedule could be more regular working hours, as well.

Occupational Therapy can provide an exciting way to assist people in their recovery and return to their "normal" lives, but since the education and training requires a student to be in school five or six years, there are some who are deterred from the profession.  A possible alternative to going to school for those years is to become an occupational therapy assistant.  This person needs to complete an associate's degree and is also projected to have a faster than average job growth in the next decade.  A forty-one percent growth is predicted for an assistant's position.  Of course the salary of an occupational therapy assistant is less than that of a full therapist, but at median salary or forty-seven thousand in 2010, the shorter time invested in school might be worth it for some to enter the profession in an assistant's capacity.

Occupational Therapy is a valuable rehabilitation service for those young and old.  With the wounded soldiers returning, there are even more opportunities for growth in this profession.  Helping people learn how to work with an injured limb or to become better at using silverware after a stroke can both be rewarding and challenging this profession calls upon the therapist to be an excellent communicator, a good motivator and also a knowledgeable resource.  Whether a person becomes an occupational therapist or an assistant, there are plenty of opportunities for people to enter this fast-growing profession.  If you are a person who enjoys science and love to work with people, then this may be a career choice for you.