Occupational Therapist Jobs
Occupational therapists help people to function more efficiently in their daily living and working environments. They primarily work with mentally or physically disabled people, helping them to lead independent and productive lives, using a variety of treatments to help patients improve basic skills related to motor function and reasoning ability.
Job Description: A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapist
Most occupational therapists see clients by appointment as they work in nursing homes, hospitals, mental institutions, rehabilitation centers, and other health-related facilities. The goal of occupational therapy is to help patients live independently, so occupational therapists often help their clients perform daily activities, like using a computer, dressing or cooking. Eventually, if therapy is successful, the client may be able to perform these tasks on his own.
Occupational therapists make use of a wide variety of techniques depending on the patient. For example, a patient who has suffered a stroke and requires rehabilitation may require physical exercise to improve dexterity and motor coordination, while an elderly patient who suffers from short-term memory loss may be asked to make lists to aid recall. Occupational therapists may also work with patients with permanent disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, in which case they may incorporate special equipment to help the patient dress, eat, and move.
General Requirements and Training
To become an occupational therapist, individuals must first earn a bachelor’s degree followed by a post-baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. A minimum of a master’s degree is required to start working in the field.
Training programs cover subjects in the physical and behavioural sciences, as well as hands-on training and six months of supervised fieldwork.
Occupational therapists may also choose to undergo further career training or specialized training allowing them to work with a particular age group, such the elderly, or to specialize in a certain disability. Occupational therapists are required to have a license in order to work. A license is only awarded to individuals who have completed an accredited occupational therapy program and have passed the national certification exam.
Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of an occupational therapist is $66,780 as of May 2008. Salary.com reports the mid-50% earnings range of occupational therapists to be $61,565 to $75, 050.
According to Payscale.com, an occupational therapist with one to four years experience earns an average of $25.09 to $34.56 hourly, while one with twenty-plus years experience earns $31.65 to $42.33.