How do I learn which colleges and universities offer occupational therapy education programs?
Accredited Educational Programs
In order to become an occupational therapy practitioner, you must graduate from an accredited program.
Visit the ATOA Web site at http://www.aota.org/Students/Schools.aspx for a list of accredited schools.
Centralized application system beginning in 2011 for OT programs
Visit the Prospective Students section of the AOTA Web site at http://www.aota.org/Students/Prospective.aspx
Find answers to frequently asked questions at http://www.aota.org/Students/Prospective/FAQs.aspx
Where do occupational therapy practitioners work?
As an OT practitioner, I could work in physical disabilities…
Specialty units (e.g. spinal cord injury)
As an OT practitioner, I could work in mental health…
Psychiatric units in hospitals
Adults or adolescents
Community mental health programs
Specialty units in nursing homes (e.g. dementia units)
As an OT practitioner, I could work in pediatrics…
Pediatric units in hospitals
Oncology, burn units, neonatal intensive care, etc.
Hospital-based outpatient clinics
As an OT practitioner, I could work in academics & research…
Academics & research
Teach in an occupational therapy or occupational therapy assistant program
Be a clinician and a teacher
Teach and do research
As an OT practitioner, I could work in specialty areas such as…
Low vision rehabilitation
Design & accessibility consultation
What is the job outlook for occupational therapy?
Job Outlook: Occupational Therapists
Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase 23% between 2006 and 2016, therefore growth is expected to be much faster than the average for all occupations.
Reasons for growth & the need for more occupational therapists:
Baby-boom generation’s movement into middle age
Aging of the population age 75 and older
Increasing numbers of individuals living with chronic disabilities or limited function
Improving technologic and medical advances
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos078.htm
Earnings: Occupational Therapists
Median annual earnings of occupational therapists were $66,780 in May 2008.
The lowest 10% earned $42,820, and the highest 10% earned more than $98,310.
Top paying industries for this occupation:
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos078.htm Industry Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage Home health $38.03 $79,110 Employment services (managers, directors) $37.80 $78,630 Other schools and instruction $36.18 $75,260 Nursing care facilities $35.19 $73,200 Physician’s office $34.54 $71,840
Workforce Trends: Occupational Therapists-May 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm Industry Employment (thousands) General medical and surgical hospitals 23,630 Offices of other health practitioners 20,340 Elementary and secondary schools 12,580 Nursing care facilities 8,630 Home health care services 6,390
Job Outlook: Occupational Therapy Assistants
Employment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow 25% from 2006 to 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Reasons for growth & the need for more occupational therapy assistants:
Increased demand for occupational therapy services (as previously discussed)
Government trends toward cost-containment measures in health care
Productivity demands by employers & insurance companies continues to increase for OT’s
OTA has a vital role in supporting therapy with the steadily growing elderly population
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos166.htm#outlook
Earnings: Occupational Therapy Assistants
Median annual earnings of occupational therapy assistants were $48,230 in May 2008.
The lowest 10% earned $31,150 and the highest 10% earned more than $65,160.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos166.htm#outlook Industry Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage Home health $28.28 $58,810 Employment services (managers, directors) $25.27 $52,560 Offices of other healthcare practitioners $24.50 $50,970 Nursing care facilities $24.08 $50,090 Community care facilities for the elderly $23.43 $48,730
Workforce Trends: Occupational Therapy Assistants-May 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312011.htm Industry Employment (thousands) Offices of Other Health Practitioners 7.560 General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 5,410 Nursing Care Facilities 4,660 Elementary and Secondary Schools 1,800 Home Health Services 1,000
Does occupational therapy offer opportunities for individuals of culturally diverse backgrounds?
Cultural Diversity in the Occupational Therapy Profession
The occupational therapy profession is actively seeking to increase the number of practitioners representing culturally diverse backgrounds. Target populations include blacks, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders. Other underrepresented groups include people with disabilities and men.
Whom is helped by occupational therapy?
Parent’s Perspective “ I have learned a lot from being part of the OT sessions and have learned to view everyday objects and activities through an OT lens to incorporate these same tasks and functions into [my daughter’s] daily life without her knowing it’s therapeutic as well!”
Parent’s Perspective “ OT was one of the few therapies that produced an immediate calm. It was something he looked forward to.” "I enjoyed OT because it was like recess, art, and a massage combined together."
Client’s Perspective “ I began working with an occupational therapy practitioner first as an inpatient and then as an outpatient following a hemorrhagic stroke in October 2008…the occupational therapists focused on my arm/hand movements and my activities of daily living (ADLs) like getting dressed, brushing my teeth, bathing, etc…occupational therapy has played (and continues to play) a critical role in my stroke recovery.”
“ The therapist tried to customize the program so that in her professional judgment would help me while still incorporating my personal goals and interests.”
What does an occupational therapy practitioner’s day actually look like? A glance into the everyday tasks of a few practitioners
A day in the life of… Penny Donehoo, MS, OTR/L School-based Pediatrics
This OT uses these types of activities for treatment:
Adapt clothing and backpacks
Obstacle courses with different types of tactile experiences
Grasp and handwriting
Adapt locker and classroom setup
The best part of my day is “when a treatment session goes well and a child achieves greater independence.”
A day in the life of… Alejandro Cuevas, Jr., BA, COTA/L Adult Physical Disabilities
This OTA uses these types of activities for treatment:
Self care skills such as dressing or bathing
Exercises to improve strength and movement
Suggests adaptive equipment
Evaluates safety in the home
“ I make it my job every day to make a difference in someone’s life through compassion, respect, listening, providing humor as a distraction for pain, motivation, and a caring heart .”
A day in the life of… Mary Michaelsen, OTR/L Mental Health
This OT uses these types of groups for treatment:
“ The best part of being a practitioner is when a patient tells me I have helped them see how special they are, that they are respected and despite their mental illness, they can live a life that is fulfilling.”
A day in the life of… Brent Braveman, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA Education and Research
This OT is involved in these types of tasks:
Develop and deliver lectures
Write journal articles or book chapters
Meet with colleagues to collaborate on student issues
Research for classes, research, or grants
Provide interventions for research subjects
“ Knowing that you have helped to expand the worldview of a client or student and that they see things just a little differently because of you is a great part of being an educator and researcher.”
What is the future of occupational therapy? 2017: A Century of Occupational Therapy
AOTA’s Centennial Vision
"We envision that occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society's occupational needs."