Occupational therapy: education and career opportunities
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Do you enjoy working with others? Are you a good listener? Do you like problem-solving? Are you interested in a career with variety? Consider occupational therapy!
OT’s work with everyone from babies and children to older adults. Occupational therapists (OT’s) help others to take care of themselves, family and their home. OT’s help people to go to school and to work. OT’s help people contribute to their communities. OT’s help others find ways to do the activities they need to do and enjoy.
Who are some of the people who are helped by occupational therapy?
- Infants with developmental problems
- Older persons facing health challenges
- Persons with disabilities
- Persons with mental illness
- Families that need help with planning for children or older parents
- Businesses that want to make changes to make work easier for workers
Where do occupational therapy practitioners work?
Occupational therapists work in a variety of job settings. Public schools, hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes, physician practices, and home health agencies are all job settings that may employ occupational therapy practitioners. With career advancement, occupational therapists may move into management, specialization, teaching, research, or private practice positions.
What are the educational requirements for a career in occupational therapy?
There are 2 levels of educational requirements for an occupational therapy careers. Occupational therapy assistants have a degree from community colleges (2-3 years). Occupational therapists have college degrees from universities (4-6 years). After graduation, people complete a national certification examination.
How can I learn which colleges and universities offer occupational therapy education programs
Visit the AOTA Web site at: www.aota.org for a list of more than 300 accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant education programs offered by colleges and universities.
What is the job outlook for occupational therapy?
According to the 2006 AOTA Compensation Survey, full-time occupational therapists earned an average annual salary of approximately $55,800 and full-time occupational therapy assistants earned approximately $38,000. The Bureau of Labor estimates a 28% higher need for occupational therapists than current supply provides.
Does occupational therapy offer opportunities for individuals of culturally diverse backgrounds?
Yes, the occupational therapy profession is actively seeking to increase the number of practitioners representing culturally diverse backgrounds. Target populations include African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders. Other underrepresented groups include people with disabilities and men.
As an occupational therapist, what tasks would I be performing during a typical workday?
Depending on your employer or the setting in which you work, your tasks may include:
- Aiding the growth and development of premature babies
- Improving learning environments for physically or mentally challenged school children
- Adapting home environments for people dealing with the effects of stroke, reduced vision, or other conditions
- Analyzing job tasks and equipment to prevent future injuries for an injured worker
- Measuring the effectiveness of treatment activities
- Working with families to organize their daily routines and outings
American Occupational Therapy Association
Bureau of Labor Statistics—OT
Bureau of Labor Statistics—OTA
Occupational Therapy Education at KU Med Center:
Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Metropolitan Community College
University of Kansas Medical Center, Occupational Therapy Education
Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Professor & Chair
Dory Sabata, OTD, OTR/L, SCEM
Becky Nicholson, MSEd, OTR
Wendy Hildenbrand, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA
Opportunities in Allied Health Careers
By Alex Kacen