Occupational Therapist

Last Updated:
June 29, 2023

Job Description Overview

An Occupational Therapist job description entails working with patients who have physical, mental, or emotional challenges that affect their daily life. They help their patients to participate in daily activities that are meaningful to them, such as getting dressed, cooking, or going to work. Occupational therapists evaluate their patients' abilities, skills, and interests to develop a customized plan that meets their needs. They teach patients skills such as the use of adaptive equipment or modification of their environment to help them achieve their goals. The therapist will also educate caregivers on techniques to assist the patient, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals, including doctors, psychologists, and physical therapists. They can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, and home health care. An Occupational Therapist job description requires a master's degree in Occupational Therapy, state licensure, and an ability to empathize with and care for patients.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Help patients improve their ability to complete daily tasks such as dressing, grooming, and cooking.
  • Teach patients how to use adaptive equipment, such as wheelchair ramps or special utensils, to make their daily tasks easier.
  • Work with patients to improve their physical and cognitive abilities, such as strength, balance, and memory.
  • Develop individualized treatment plans for patients based on their specific needs and goals.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to provide comprehensive care for patients.
  • Evaluate patients' progress and adjust treatment plans as necessary to ensure continued improvement.
  • Educate patients and their families about their condition, treatment options, and strategies for managing symptoms.
  • Provide counseling and emotional support to help patients cope with the challenges of living with a disability or illness.
  • Advocate for patients' rights and work to improve accessibility and inclusion in their communities.
  • Conduct research and contribute to the development of new treatment methods and technologies.

Experience and Education Requirements

To become an occupational therapist, you'll need to complete a master's degree in occupational therapy from an accredited school. During your education, you'll learn about anatomy, physiology, psychology, and rehabilitation techniques to help people with disabilities or injuries. Many programs also require clinical experience, meaning time spent working with patients under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. After you've earned your degree, you'll need to pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to become a licensed occupational therapist. Employers may also require additional certifications based on the specific job requirements. Continued education is important to stay up to date with the latest research and techniques in the field.

Salary Range

Occupational Therapist salary range in the healthcare industry varies depending on location, experience, and education level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapists in the United States was $84,950 in 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,990. 

In Canada, the average annual salary for occupational therapists ranges from about $60,000 to $98,000, according to Indeed. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the National Health Service pays occupational therapists an annual salary of about £24,907 to £30,615, depending on their level of experience.





Career Outlook

If you are planning to pursue a career as an Occupational Therapist in the healthcare industry, you are in luck! The employment growth rate of Occupational Therapists is projected to rise by 16% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) attributes this to an aging baby boomer population, who require rehabilitation services to manage age-related conditions such as strokes, arthritis, and neurological disorders. There is also an increasing demand for OTs in the mental health sector as more people are focusing on their mental well-being. Overall, the future looks bright for Occupational Therapists in the healthcare industry, and job prospects are expected to remain favorable over the next five years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is an occupational therapist?

A: Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who help patients of all ages with disabilities or injuries improve their ability to perform daily activities such as dressing, cooking, and working.

Q: What does an occupational therapist do?

A: An occupational therapist helps patients regain or develop skills that are crucial to their daily lives, such as fine motor skills, problem-solving, memory, and coordination. They may also recommend changes to home or work environments to improve safety and independence.

Q: What kind of patients do occupational therapists work with?

A: Occupational therapists work with patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. They may work with patients who have physical disabilities, developmental delays, mental health issues, or injuries that affect their ability to perform daily activities.

Q: Where do occupational therapists work?

A: Occupational therapists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, nursing homes, private clinics, and patients' homes.

Q: What qualifications do occupational therapists need?

A: Occupational therapists must have a master's degree in occupational therapy and pass a national certification exam. They also need to be licensed in the state they work in. Good communication skills, patience, and empathy are important qualities for this job.

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