Who they are: Occupational therapists blend scientific knowledge of the human body and mind with an understanding of the challenges of disability, environment and culture. Occupational therapists serve as vital members of a treatment team.
What they do: Professional duties include providing direct treatment, managing treatment programs, promoting health and wellness, and conducting clinical research in order to help individuals maximize their independence and quality of life. They work with children and adults who have physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities that interfere with their ability to engage in life's tasks.
Where they work: Occupational therapists work in diverse settings including: hospitals, schools, rehabilitation and mental health centers, home healthcare, college/university teaching, skilled nursing facilities, and private practice.
Outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of occupational therapy jobs in the United States will increase by 18% by the year 2028. This is much faster than other occupations.
To become an occupational therapist, students must complete a Masters or Doctorate of occupational therapy. Schools that offer a masters degree can be found here. Schools that offer doctoral degrees can be found here. Application to an occupational therapy program includes completing a universal application at www.otcas.org. Here students list completed coursework, submit application fees, and submit supplemental, school-specific information, like essays.
Occupational therapy students must also pass the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Exam to become an Occupational Therapist. Once licensed in the therapist’s state of practice, an OT must complete continuing education throughout their career to remain licensed.