Are you ready for an occupational therapy career? The profession of occupational therapy is much more than helping people recover from injuries or regain the use of arms and legs. Occupational therapy’s whole-person approach focuses on challenges of all kinds: mental, emotional, and physical.
The largest populations benefitting from those entering occupational therapy careers are children with developmental issues or disabling conditions and senior adults who increasingly want to live more comfortably at home as they age. The demand for OT practitioners at all levels is expected to increase by 24 percent through at least 2026.
According to a recent report in Science Daily, the work of occupational therapy practitioners was found to be the only one of 19 categories in which more money spent translated directly into lower hospital admission rates.
Understanding Your Occupational Therapy Career
The choice of becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant or an Occupational Therapist is a very personal one. Both options require formal training and have specific educational requirements. Here’s more information to help you understand these career options.
Occupational Therapist (OT)
If you’re thinking about becoming an occupational therapist (OT), you will need to earn a four-year (bachelor’s degree) in occupational therapy. Once you have your bachelor’s degree, you will then need to apply to a graduate school program.
You’ll need to have at least a master’s degree in occupational therapy; many students prefer to continue on to a doctorate degree. The master’s and doctoral program require 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork and the doctoral option adds in another 16-week fieldwork experience.
Typical responsibilities of an OT include:
Plan on spending at least six years in college to meet the profession’s entry-level requirements. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for occupational therapists is $83,200.
Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA Program)
If you’re thinking about becoming an occupational therapy assistant, you need an associate’s (two-year) degree, typically an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) This degree covers all courses and fieldwork experience to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
Because OTAs work directly with individuals, an OTA’s strong interpersonal abilities – compassion, creative thinking, active listening, etc. – contribute to their success. Typical responsibilities of OTAs:
OTAs have a unique skill set, and the demand for OTAs is estimated at more than 25 percent through 2026. The median salary for OTAs is $58,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with first-year OTA salaries at more than $45,000.
Which OT role is best for you? That’s for you to decide. Know this: an occupational therapy career is professionally and financially rewarding … and life-changing for the individuals you work with along the way.
The OTA Program at Cleveland University-Kansas City
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, health-care focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas. The two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Program at CUKC includes 16 core courses along with four-to-five months of fieldwork experience. Coursework is presented in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects.
At Cleveland University-Kansas City, the OTA program
Connect with an advisor today to get more details, or get a whole ebook downloaded free: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.