By any standard, occupational therapy is a growing profession. There are more educational programs available to students, there are more students pursuing these programs, there is a rapidly growing workforce with ample opportunity for employment, and more. Below, find some valuable information about the great employment and job outlook for occupational therapists, and see whether or not it seems like this career may be a good fit for you.
First of all, how many occupational therapists are there in the United States? According to the 2008 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 104,500 jobs taken by occupational therapists in the country. That number is rapidly on the rise, too. Consider that the BLS has projected a 26% growth rate between 2008 and 2018, which is of course a much faster than average growth rate. That translates into nearly 27,000 new jobs, which means ample opportunities for you and a wonderful job employment for the immediate and foreseeable future.
While the economy has been struggling, and many more traditional occupations have been stagnant or even declining, occupational therapy is on the rise. When you graduate from a solid accredited program and get your license, and can feel confident in the fact that a great job and a great career will be waiting for you. You’ll put that degree to good use and make that investment in your education well worth the time, money and effort.
It’s also important to consider where exactly you may be working as an occupational therapist. As mentioned, there’s a great job outlook, but where will you wind up with your career? Two of the largest growth areas are with occupational therapists treating the elderly, and occupational therapists in schools and nonprofit settings. In terms of the elderly, the population has been aging, and all of those baby boomers are reaching ages where they need more care. With students and nonprofits, a growing awareness of mental and developmental problems in children, and new and innovative approaches to treat and cope with those, are stimulating the growth there.
Another huge area of growth is the physical, mental and emotional adaptation, treatment and rehabilitation needed by soldiers and veterans. Once again, greater recognition of problems contributes to an increased level of treatment, as well as technological advancement which makes more treatment possible while in this case also contributing to a greater number of injured survivors of war.
Still, most occupational therapists will work in either ambulatory healthcare services such as outpatient clinics of all kinds, and hospitals. Hospitals have a growing need for OT’s across multiple levels, including acute care treatment, rehabilitation programs, and more. Meanwhile, many occupational therapists also work in the offices of a healthcare practitioner, and the government and corporations are both growing sources of occupational therapy employment.
So, will occupational therapy be good for you? Consider the wide range of specializations, industries and work settings available to you, as well as the 26% growth rate in occupational therapy jobs that is projected. Skilled, licensed professionals will find high paying jobs in plentiful supply, and right now is the perfect time to begin your path towards joining the fold, as occupational therapists are commanding more respect and finding more and better job opportunities than ever before.