Occupational Therapist

Assistive Technology Trainer, Early Intervention Occupational Therapist   More Names
Independent Living Specialist, Industrial Rehabilitation Consultant, Industrial Therapist, Job Trainer, Occupational Therapist (OT), Occupational Therapists, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Registered Occupational Therapist, Rehabilitation Engineer, Rehabilitation Supervisor, Staff Occupational Therapist, Staff Therapist, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Vocational Trainer
Description

Promote health by enabling people to perform meaningful and purposeful activities, including jobs. Occupational therapists work with individuals who suffer from a mentally, physically, developmentally, and/or emotionally disabling conditions by using treatments that develop, recover, or maintain clients' activities of daily living. Select and carry-out patient activities and exercises. Monitor and document each patient's treatment progress.

Occupational therapists work mainly in large rehabilitation centers and hospitals, clinics and outpatient therapy offices, school systems, early intervention programs, and individual practice settings. Some also are employed by local, state, or federal government rehabilitation agencies. In whatever setting they work, occupational therapists determine and direct the tasks and activities of the occupational therapist assistants and aides who work under them.

Occupational therapists manage the therapy team that works to improve patients' quality of life and ability to perform daily activities. They plan, implement and administer the individual rehabilitation therapy programs that are intended to restore, reinforce, and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional performance of each of their patients. Their overall goal is to help their patients to have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

The range of exercises and activities that occupational therapists use as part of their treatment approach is wide. Certain physical exercises may be used to increase strength and dexterity, while other activities may be chosen to improve visual acuity or the ability to discern patterns. For example, a client with short-term memory loss might be encouraged to make lists to aid recall, and a person with coordination problems might be assigned exercises to improve hand-eye coordination.

They also use activities, such as computer applications programs to help clients improve decision-making, abstract-reasoning, problem-solving, and perceptual skills, as well as memory, sequencing, and coordination. Additionally, they may help and instruct patients in performing basic daily care tasks such as dressing, cooking, and eating.

In support of independent living, occupational therapists instruct patients and families in work, social, and living skills; care and use of adaptive equipment; and other means to adjust to injury or disability. They observe and evaluate patients' progress, attitudes, and accomplishments and record and maintain this information in patients' files. They also discuss their observations and findings on how to improve rehabilitative care with other members of the occupational therapy team.

Occupational therapists encourage patients and help them to keep a positive attitude towards their treatment and rehabilitation progress. Especially in cases of injured workers, they help them return to employment, where possible, by instructing them on ways to compensate for lost limbs or motor skills. In cases of learning or other mental disabilities, they conduct activities and mental and physical exercises designed to increase life success skills and independence. With experience, an occupational therapist may decide to work exclusively with individuals in a particular age group or with a specific kind of disability or injury. This kind of focus may include young children or the elderly. It can also involve particular disabilities such as autism, emotional disturbance, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, or stress-related problems.

In large rehabilitation centers, occupational therapists may work in spacious rooms equipped with machines, tools, and other devices generating noise. The work may be tiring because they are on their feet much of the time. In addition, they also need to be award of potentials hazards, such as back strain, from lifting and moving clients and equipment.

Occupational therapist is a high-skill, high-level step on the occupational therapy career ladder. It also can be a step up for someone who starts out with less education and training as an occupational therapist aide or assistant. Occupational therapists may take on broader supervisory roles within a healthcare organization, including advancement to executive level responsibilities at a hospital or rehabilitation center.

Credentials Needed: All fifty states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) regulate the practice of occupational therapists either by requiring licensing, registration, or certification. Individual requirement terms vary among the states.

As a condition for licensing or registration, many states require passing the national certifying exam for occupational therapist that is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Passing this national exam also earns an individual the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) credential. States that do not use this national exam have their own state tests for licensing.

Some states have additional requirements for occupational therapists who may work in schools or early intervention programs. These requirements can include education-related classes, an education practice certificate, or early intervention certification.

NBCOT also offers the OTR credential as a voluntary industry-based certification in those states where it is not mandatory for licensing. In these cases, occupational therapists can use this credential to further benchmark their skills and competencies as an occupational therapist. More information about this credential is available on the NBCOT website.

The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA) also sponsors a number of voluntary, specialty and advanced certifications for occupational therapists. Information about these certifications is available on the AOTA website. Before beginning studies to become an occupational therapist, an individual should contact their state's licensing board to determine the exact licensing or regulatory requirements that they will need to meet in order to practice in that state.

Some Key Things to Remember: Occupational therapists promote health by enabling people to perform meaningful and purposeful activities, including jobs. Occupational therapists work with individuals who suffer from mentally, physically, developmentally, and/or emotionally disabling conditions by using treatments that develop, recover, or maintain clients' activities of daily living.. They select and carry-out activities and exercises to help patients develop, recover, or maintain daily living and working skills. They also head the occupational therapy team that also includes occupational therapist assistants and aides.

A master's degree or higher in occupational therapy is typically the minimum education requirement for entry, licensure, and employment in this occupation. All fifty states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) regulate the practice of occupational therapists either by requiring licensing, registration, or certification.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
27% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $67,140 - $99,300    Hourly: $32 - $48
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Occupational therapists need to have a moderate degree of strength because of the physical exertion required to assist patients. For example, they may need to lift patients and equipment.

Constant kneeling, stooping, and standing for long periods also are part of the job.

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Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

27% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $67,140 - $99,300

Hourly: $32 - $48