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Occupational Therapist

Job Duties

Occupational therapists (OTs) work with people who have mental, physical, developmental, or emotional disabilities. They strive to help these people live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. They assist them in developing or improving their ability to perform daily living and work skills. They help some patients recover their motor functions or reasoning abilities, and they help others deal with the permanent loss of these functions and abilities. OTs help clients perform a wide range of tasks, from operating a personal computer to basics such as eating, cooking, and dressing. They utilize computer programs to better assist clients in regaining decision-making, abstract-reasoning, problem-solving, and perceptual skills.

Occupational Therapist Assisting

Occupational therapists assist people who have permanent disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy. They help them use equipment such as wheelchairs, splints, and aids for eating and dressing. They may also design specialized equipment for work or home. Other occupational therapists specialize in working with people whose ability to work has been impaired. They arrange employment, evaluate work environments, plan work activities, and assess the client's progress. They often work with the employer to make sure that the worker's needs are met.

Job Skills

Occupational therapists need to be imaginative in creating activities to suit the needs of various individuals with disabilities. They should also have a high degree of patience, as well as well-developed interpersonal skills. They must be able to inspire trust in their clients.

Income

In 2002, occupational therapists earned a median annual salary of $51,990. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $35,130, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $74,390. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of occupational therapists:

  • Offices of other health practitioners -- $53,660
  • Nursing care facilities -- $53,930
  • General medical and surgical hospitals -- $53,210
  • Elementary and secondary schools -- $45,740

Training and Education

The minimum educational requirement for entry into the field of occupational therapy is a bachelor's degree. Starting in 2007, a master's degree will become the new minimum requirement. Occupational therapists must obtain the designation "Occupational Therapist Registered" (OTR) by graduating from an accredited program and passing a national examination. 38 schools offered bachelor's degree programs, 3 offered post-baccalaureate certificate programs for students with a degree other than occupational therapy. 48 programs offered a combined bachelor's and master's degree, and 5 offered an entry-level doctoral degree. Coursework in occupational therapy programs includes physical, biological, and behavioral sciences and the application of occupational theory and skills. 6 months of supervised fieldwork is required for graduation.

Employment

In 2002, occupational therapists held about 82,000 jobs. 10% held more than one job, and the highest number of jobs were found in hospitals.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase faster than the average. This will be due to the growing population, a bi-product of which is steady growth of individuals with disabilities. The aging baby-boomer generation will also increase demand for occupational therapists.

For more information on becoming a occupational therapist, please see our directory of schools offering Medical Training


Occupational Therapist Training

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            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
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            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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            • One of the largest massage therapy schools in the nation teaching since 1979.
            • First massage school in California to be nationally accredited.
            • Has a successful job placement record— 86% of graduates get placed into work in massage therapy.
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            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

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            Platt College , Online (campus option available)
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            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
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            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            Start your career with training from Blake Austin College - Beauty Academy. We offer programs in cosmetology, massage therapy, and holistic health, plus a combination esthetics/massage program.
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            Intercoast Colleges , Online (campus option available)

            • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
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            • Scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Offers more than 70 majors and programs, as well as several off-campus internships.
            • 94% of students in the 2014-2015 academic year qualified for financial aid.
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