The role of occupational therapist is becoming increasingly important as the advantages of appropriate and correct therapy become increasingly apparent. The role is particularly prevalent in hospitals and health practitioners although some therapists work in outpatient clinics, community care services and even private corporations.
The role is seen so positively that it is predicted the number of therapists will increase by over 20% over the next ten years, given an ageing population and an increasing number of disabilities requiring the services an occupational therapist. As people live progressively longer the incident rate of heart attacks and strokes becomes more common and for those lucky enough to survive these conditions the occupational therapist can provide much needed help in recovering normal functions and a return to a satisfying life. Patients are also surviving critical illnesses and accidents that would have been fatal a few years ago at a much greater rate, due to the advancements being made in medicine. Such advances have also led to more children surviving potentially fatal infant diseases and these too require the attention of occupational therapists to help prepare children for education and family life.
This rise in demand will inevitably result in increased earnings and the median yearly salary of occupational therapists is now over $70,000 with some earning over $100,000.
An occupational therapist will normally need a Bachelors degree from an accredited college or university and a Masters degree is the normal minimal qualification for entry into the profession. There are over 130 master's degree programs available across the country and 5 doctoral degree programs. The majority of degrees are full time but the number of part-time courses is increasing due to the demands of students who want to keep working whilst studying. The coursework includes 6 months of supervised work in the field in addition to coursework in physical, biological and behavioral sciences.
Once you hold the required academic qualification you will then need to pass the National Certification Examination and successful completion of this examination will allow you to use the title of "Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR)."
Some therapists take on supervisory duties or choose to specialize in specific clinical areas such as mental health, pediatrics or physical rehabilitation. Some therapists choose to teach their skills to others in an accredited educational program.
Whatever specialism you choose you will find that the profession offers rewarding work in which you can see the fruits of your labor as people make excellent recoveries from potentially fatal or significantly debilitating conditions and diseases.