WHAT DO OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS DO?
Do you want to help people in pain? Are you interested in working to help ease the suffering of others, but aren't necessarily interested in medicine? You might be ready for a career as an occupational therapist.
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people with disabilities, injuries or illness recover and cope through the use of common, everyday tasks. Usually working one-on-one with patients, OTs will watch how they do tasks ask questions and look over medical history, create treatment plans and goals, show patients how to use adaptive technology, demonstrate exercises to relieve pain and increase mobility, and much more.
Occupational therapists work with a range of different patients. It could be helping the elderly use adaptive technology or outfitting their home so that they can stay independent, working with autistic children, working with the disabled or injured to use eating tools, wheelchairs and other equipment, or showing a newly disabled person how to cope and work with their current condition.
Occupational therapists are often in contact with parents and caregivers, passing along recommendations and progress reports.
HOW MUCH DO OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS MAKE?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median income for occupational therapists in 2010 was $34.77 an hour or $72,320 per year.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS?
Occupational therapists need a master's degree in occupational therapy. All OTs must be licensed by the state. Certification is available, but not mandatory.
JOB SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS
- Compassion: You are working with people who are under physical duress and pain You must have a strong sense of empathy and compassion to help people feel comfortable.
- Communication Skills: Occupational therapists will need to be good listeners and good communicators, listening to patients describe their ailments, working with them to come up with plans, explaining progress to the patient, their family, other doctors, and insurance companies.
- Patience: Injuries or illness have caused people to lose abilities they once had, and will get frustrated when they can't do them. Being calm and patient will help them focus on therapy.
- Problem-Solving Skills: You will be working with patients to develop ways to manage pain, cope with ailments and recover from physical or mental trauma. You will need to think outside the box to create specific plans for each person, according to their needs, comfort level and and limitations.
THE FUTURE OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS
As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for OTs will grow. According to the BLS, OT jobs will grow 33% between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the average job.