dcsimg



Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Occupational Therapist (O.T.)


Description

Can you imagine how devastating it must be to no longer be able to do the things that you do daily in life, such as eat meals, go to the washroom, ride a bike or talk on the phone? With hard rehabilitative work and a lot of patience occupational therapists, also called clinical occupational specialists, help people in this position to regain their mental and physical abilities.

In order to understand what an occupational therapist (OT) does, it is important to understand how these therapists define the term "occupation". Everything we do in life, including taking care of ourselves, our enjoyment and leisure, and contributing to society productively, encompasses an occupational therapist's vision of one's occupation. Occupational therapists believe that occupations define people as individuals. Therefore, if a person becomes unable to do the things they want or need to do in order to live and to enjoy life (i.e. their occupation), then their physical and mental health and general well-being may be adversely affected.

Occupational therapists help people improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They work with people whose capabilities have been impaired by a physical illness or injury, developmental problems, the aging process, mental illness or emotional problems. Whatever the individual case, all of these people have trouble performing routine tasks and functioning "normally" in their everyday lives.

Occupational therapists not only help clients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

OTs develop therapeutic programs which include a number of creative techniques, such as making environmental changes to help clients perform daily tasks, and purposeful activities, like woodworking, painting, writing, and macrame to help clients restore and maintain functionality and prevent disability. They might use orthotic devices or splints to position and support injured limbs or help clients regain normal movement, vocational assessment and retraining to develop or improve work-related skills. They also advocate self-help strategies; training or retraining clients in daily living activities, getting clients "occupied" with getting on with their lives. OTs also promote health and exercise and practice therapy from a holistic point of view. If the therapy involves a group, there will be activities or discussions to facilitate social adjustment, stress alleviation and health promotion.

Unlike traditional and conventional therapies and rehabilitation processes, occupational therapists often design specific instruments for patients. People in wheelchairs will learn how to adapt. OTs may teach clients new ways to perform daily chores, manage their finances and shop for groceries, and help clients develop skills to cope with anxiety, substance abuse, stress, decreased energy and the normal aging process. They might even work with architects to plan accessible homes for people with disabilities or with engineers to design instruments and tools especially for people with a unique disability. Through these methods, OTs can help their clients improve strength, endurance, movement and self-confidence.

Lastly, occupational therapists may decide to specialize in working with a specific age group, such as children or the elderly, or with clients that have a specific disability such as arthritis or schizophrenia.
 
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Advanced Care Paramedic
arrow Adventure Tour Leader
arrow Anesthesiologists
arrow [ view all related careers ]



Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Southern California Health Institute
Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.
Programs Offered:
  • Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$35,130
 
Median Salary:
$51,990
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$74,390

  Interests and Skills  
Occupational therapists must be creative and innovative when solving occupational problems. They have excellent interpersonal skills including communicating with patients and they enjoy helping people get through their health related problems. Successful occupational therapists enjoy finding different ways to deal with problems, yet taking a methodical approach to their work.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assess patients' capabilities to perform daily occupations (emotionally and physically) through observation, interviews and standardized and informal assessments
  • Develop treatment programs which may include manual and creative arts, industrial and vocational skills and recreational activities
  • Implement the treatment programs, which may include and intervention and evaluate a patient's progress
  • Maintain clinical and statistical records
  • May advise on health risks in the workplace or participate in other programs, such as pre-retirement programs, to prevent physical or mental health problems
  • May conduct research in occupational therapy, including field work
  • May act as an occupational therapy consultant or educator
  • Occupational therapists usually work standard office (about 40 hours per week) hours but some positions do require evening and weekend work to accommodate patients' schedules. In clinical settings, they may spend much of their working day standing, bending and assisting patients.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Occupational therapists work in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector, they practice in all types of hospitals, including psychiatric, convalescent and children's, worker's compensation centers, drug and alcohol addiction centers, schools, universities, community mental health agencies, and various government funded clinics. They also work in private practices, rehabilitation centers, disabled children's centers, home care, extended care facilities, regional health authorities, homes, group homes and lodges, mental health care facilities, industrial settings, shelters, vocational assessment units, and insurance companies. Those who are self-employed may also provide consulting services for various levels of government.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Occupational therapists need patience and strong interpersonal skills to inspire trust and respect in their clients. Therefore, advancement in the private practice will be in the form of building up a client base and expanding in terms of clients. Those working in a clinic could advance to a supervisory or management position, directing and training other occupational therapists. Also, occupational therapists might go into hospital administration.
 

  Educational Paths  
In order to become an occupational therapist, the educational road is to take a university degree in occupational therapy or rehabilitation, followed by a required period of supervised practical training. Some students have a bachelor's degree before entering the OT program, however that is not a necessary application requirement.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Southern California Health Institute  Online
Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.
Programs Offered:
  • Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program
Campus Locations:
  • Reseda, CA

 
Intercoast Colleges  Online
Get your career started with Intercoast Colleges.
Programs Offered:
  • Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies
  • Online Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies
Campus Locations:
  • , CA

 
Argosy University  Online

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs Offered:
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MA) (Online)
  • Counseling Psychology(EdD) (Online)
Campus Locations:
  • Phoenix, AZ

 
Liberty University  Online

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

Programs Offered:
  • MA in Professional Counseling - 60 Hour
Campus Locations:
  • Lynchburg, VA

 
Northwest University  Online

NU has been educating leaders since 1934 at our campus near Seattle. If you have a dream, we can help make it possible.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Campus Locations:
  • , WA

 
Northcentral University  Online

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs Offered:
  • Health Psychology - PhD of Psychology
Campus Locations:
  • San Diego, CA

 
Post University Online  Online

At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education.

Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Human Services / Counseling
Campus Locations:
  • Waterbury, CT

 
California University of Pennsylvania  Online

Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

Programs Offered:
  • Rehabilitation Sciences (Certificate) - Online
  • Rehabilitation Sciences (Master of Science) - Online
  • Sports Counseling (Certificate) - Online
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • California, PA

 
Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
Music
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2016 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.