An Honest Assessment Of Why You Should Become An Occupational Therapist


After high school, students are faced with the decision to go to college or not. Those who choose to go to college have to decide what they will major in. Since the healthcare industry is the second largest growing industry today, it will be wise to consider a career here. You can become a doctor, a nurse or a therapist.

As the aging population increases, the healthcare industry is looking for more nurses and occupational therapists to respond to the demand. Now, you have narrowed down your choices to becoming a nurse or an occupational therapist. You can ask yourself, what are you more interested in? Giving direct patient care to the general public or specializing on patients with disabilities? If you chose the latter, you want to become an occupational therapist.

Physical Therapist VS Occupational Therapist

Assessment Of An Occupational TherapistMany people are wondering what the difference between a physical therapist and an occupational therapist is. The confusion may be because both types of therapists can help treat patients with disabilities and both therapists often works with the senior patients. While the work of both therapists is complementary, the focus of the work is very different.

Students who wish to become physical therapists or occupational therapists someday will need to complete a bachelor’s degree first before being accepted into a master’s degree program. Undergraduate majors can be on human anatomy, biology, physiology and other related fields. When it is time to pursue a master’s degree, that is when the training becomes different and more specific. PT degree programs will focus on PT therapies, methods and principles while OT degree programs will focus on OT techniques, principles and methods. Once the master’s degree is completed, both types of therapists are now eligible for licensing.

So, what makes the two different? The physical therapist is focus on the physical aspects and movements of a person which includes walking, balance, coordination, flexibility and strength. A physical therapist can help a stroke patient learn how to walk again after suffering the stroke. The main focus of physical therapist is working with the body from waist down.

The occupational therapist is not just focused on physical movement but with the overall aspects of the person including emotional, mental and behavioral. Occupational therapists help the patient to learn, regain or maintain independence despite an illness or disability. The OT helps the patient with the use of devices and gadgets that will help the patient become more independent. The OT works with a patient’s body from the waist up.

Although there is some overlapping of duties, it is easier to distinguish one from the other now. Physical and occupational therapists often work together with a patient to get the best results.

Career Benefits Of An Occupational Therapist

Now that you know what type of therapist you are, it is time to know what benefits you can gain from this career. Right now, occupational therapists are highly needed because of the increasing senior population and the number of people with disabilities. Also, schools are implementing special-education programs which also need the help of occupational therapists. What does this demand have to do with your career?

Occupational TherapistFor one, because of the high demand, the employment in the field of occupational therapy is expected to increase too. There will be a 26% increase until 2018. With the employment or jobs rising, this equates to more job prospects for occupational therapists. Occupational therapists can work in orthopedic settings, acute hospitals and rehabilitation centers. They can also perform services to patients in their homes. Further, if an occupational therapist has a specific treatment area, he or she can expect more job opportunities.

Occupational therapists receive benefits and vacation time throughout their careers. These are the perks of being a healthcare service provider and a highly demanded one at that. Occupational therapists receive annual bonuses. The amount of bonuses will depend on the work experience of the therapist with the employer. Bonuses can range from $1000 to $1500 a year. OTs benefit from an annual paid vacation leave. The number of paid vacation days will depend on the work experience of the therapist with the employer. Newly graduate therapists get 1.9 weeks of paid vacation on the average while those with 1-19 years of experience can get as much as 2.2 weeks paid vacation.

As a healthcare service provider, it should not be a surprise that occupational therapists receive health insurance. The health insurance package includes medical insurance, cancer coverage, vision insurance, disability coverage and dental insurance. For occupational therapists that will be assigned to work in other places for a short period of time, they can also receive accident coverage.

Occupational therapists are not millionaires but they earn more than enough to live comfortable lives. The starting salary of an OT is around $67,000 a year while those with a few years of experience can already earn $75,000 a year. The pay goes higher if the occupational therapist has a doctorate degree or a specialty area. Occupational therapists operating their own clinics can earn $90,000 a year.

Why Should You Choose This Career?

On a more personal note, there are plenty of reasons why this should be a fulfilling and enjoyable careers for you to take on. After all, a career is not just about the compensation and benefits. It is also about job satisfaction and fulfillment.

As an occupational therapist, there will not be a lack of challenges throughout your career. Challenges will allow you to grow as a healthcare professional. These challenges will help you to continuously learn and improve your craft. There are no two days that are the same in this career. Every patient is different, every condition and treatment is different. You will work with different people every day in different situations. Thus, boredom will not be a problem.

Being A TherapistAn occupational therapist has the freedom to choose where to work and how to work. With the several healthcare facilities that needs the services of an OT, choosing will not be a problem. Occupational therapists can choose to focus on working with children, adults or seniors. They can work in their private clinics or accept traveling jobs. They can work part-time or full-time. So, you have total control of your career.

The most important reason of all is the satisfaction and fulfillment you get from treating patients. Once you see that your treatment plans are working and that patients are gaining independence, you will know why this is one of the best careers in the world.


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