How Do I Become an Occupational Therapist?

An occupational therapist works in a variety of settings in order to help people who have experienced an illness, injury or disability that interferes with their ability to function independently in their daily activities. Occupational therapists work with other medical personnel to develop and carry out treatment plans. If you have a compassionate nature, read on to discover the answer to the question, “How do I become an occupational therapist?.”

What’s it like to be an occupational therapist?
Most occupational therapists work with clients and patients in a hospital, school or nursing home. They work with doctors and patients to develop a treatment plan that includes special activities and exercises that will help the patient to develop the necessary skills needed to perform their daily routines. In order to become an occupational therapist, it is important to be aware that a great amount of patience is required, as recovery from an illness or injury can often take a long time for some individuals. Many occupational therapists work with young children who are just beginning to learn adaptive techniques for disabilities. Although the responsibilities of being an occupational therapist are sometimes challenging, most therapists find that helping someone to achieve their highest potential can be quite rewarding.

What type of education is required to become an occupational therapist?
In order to become an occupational therapist, a master’s degree is required after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. This typically takes around four to six years to accomplish. Most occupational therapists find that studying science related courses such as psychology, biology and anatomy during their undergraduate education lays the groundwork for their post-graduate education. Upon completion of your master’s degree, you will then be expected to pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam in order to become a licensed occupational therapist.

Many occupational therapists also decide to complete post-graduate education courses in different areas of specialization in order to learn techniques for providing therapy to special populations. For example, someone interested in working with elderly patients in a nursing home, might decide to pursue further study in topics related to age-related injuries. Because new research is constantly providing new information regarding the best ways to treat injuries and illnesses, most occupational therapists are required by their licensing agency to take continuing education courses in order to stay up to date.

What types of job opportunities are available?
Occupational therapy is quickly becoming one of the fasted growing health care careers. If you decide to become an occupational therapist, then you can expect to be able to find a career in the setting of your choice and work within your area of specialization. The aging population has created an especially strong need for occupational therapists in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. The salary for occupational therapists ranges from $45,000 to $70,000, depending upon education and experience. In order to practice their therapy skills and get hands-on training, most occupational therapists participate in an internship program while they are completing their education. This allows for them to graduate from their degree program with the types of experience they need to be able to successfully help their patients to overcome their adversities and reach their maximum potential.