An occupational therapist is a medical professional that works with people with disabilities or developmental problems to help them perform vocational, homemaking and daily activities. They plan, organize and carry out a treatment plan for each patient.
As an occupational therapist, your main job will be to plan, organize and carry out treatment plans and programs in a hospital, institutional or home environment. This will include testing and evaluating patients physical and mental capabilities. They analyze this data to determine rehab goals and plans. They use this information to select activities that will help their patients to learn easier ways to accomplish work and life skills. They evaluate their patients progress and prepare reports with this information. They maintain all the records on each patient and train other types of caregivers to advise of the correct procedures in handling these types of patients. They give speeches and participate in community programs for social adjustment and stress management. They may work as a part of a rehab team. Occupational therapists may plan and implement different programs and activities such as school skills and how to deal with a physical handicap.
Occupational Therapist Salary:
The national occupational therapist salary is about $75,000 a year or $36 an hour. The amount that an occupational therapist makes will depend on experience, education, type of place you work, type of patients that you work with and more. Experience is one of the first thing that potential employees look for. The more experience you have, the more employers will want to hire you. It will also affect the amount of your occupational therapist wage. The starting occupational therapist income is about $50,000 a year or $24 an hour. This will steadily increase as your experience increases. With five years of experience the average occupational therapist salary will increase to $62,000 per year or $30 an hour. Ten years of experience will increase the pay rate of an occupational therapist to $74,000 per year or $35 an hour. With fifteen years of experience, the occupational therapist wage will increase to more than $89,000 per year or $43 an hour. The top level of experience is met once you have at least twenty years of experience. At this advanced level of experience the occupational therapist salary is at $104,000 per year or an hourly salary of $50. So, experience is very important to an employer when determining a wage for a new employee.
Occupational Therapist Education:
In order to become an occupational therapist, you will need to obtain a master’s degree in occupational therapy from an accredited program. Before you can enter a master’s program, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in an applicable field of study such as math, science or health technologies. Some programs may require work experience before entering the master’s degree program. Upon entrance the master’s degree will take an additional two years to complete. Some programs may combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree that will take five years to complete. In class work is required in addition to class projects and field work. Typical courses of study include occupation and self, occupation and others, community involvement, conditions and foundations in OT, human movement, hand therapy, wellness movement, research in health professions, healing and mindfulness, self regulation and social success, writing workshops, sensory integration and more. Licensing is required upon graduation. Taking and passing the NBCOT exam and continuing education courses will earn your license. Certification is not required but may promote your job skills.
Occupational Therapist Job Description:
The work environment for an occupational therapist is typically in a medical setting such as a hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, home health care facility and other types of medical environments. The work area is typically well lit and temperature controlled. The majority of the work is done while standing and may involve helping patients complete exercises and moving them around. Some travel may be required as many occupational therapists will work for more than one facility at a time. Work schedules may vary but more than seventy percent of all OT work a full time schedule of at least forty hours per week. Night and weekend work may be required depending on the patients schedule.
Occupational therapists provide a very important service for patients that need help with performing everyday activities. This can include teaching them to read, write or use a computer. To teaching them how to cook meals for themselves or clean their homes. There are many job opportunities out there for well trained occupational therapists. Currently, there are more than 109,000 medical professionals employed as occupational therapists. By the year 2020, there is an expected thirty three percent increase in jobs to be added to the market. This means that there will be an additional 36,000 new jobs added for well trained and experienced occupational therapists.