Occupational therapy is a very rewarding and exciting field, and it has continued to grow quickly not only as more students have become interested in its possibilities, but also as more employers and industries turn to occupational therapists. In fact, there’s a projected 26% growth in the field from 2008 to 2018, showing that job opportunities are plentiful and these careers are in demand. But knowing that, who are the employers that are hiring OT’s, and where will you likely end up working if you pursue this career?
OT’s can end up working in any number of different settings or industries, but the largest percentage belongs to ambulatory healthcare services. Nearly 30% of the more than 100,000 occupational therapists in the United States in 2008 worked in this specific grouping of healthcare, working with clients on an outpatient basis. Of course, it’s a broad grouping that could potentially include many different types of settings or job specialties.
After this, the next largest employer of occupational therapists are hospitals. Hospitals employ OT’s in several different ways. First, will be in the treatment of acute patients recovering from severe or traumatic injury. Inpatient care of patients rehabbing from major surgery is another role for occupational therapists in this setting. Additionally, hospitals also offer outpatient rehabilitation care, and OT’s have a large presence there as well.
Occupational therapists often find work in nursing homes or senior care centers. The population is aging too, which has spiked the demand for OT’s in these areas. Seniors need to be able to overcome injuries or adapt to their impaired bodies, stay mentally sharp, learn new skills and continue to be immersed in a community, and so forth.
The offices of various healthcare practitioners and providers, and clinics of all kinds, also employ occupational therapists. OT’s also have a growing presence within government agencies, as well as a growing presence with nonprofit groups with various missions within the community. It’s a great time to enter the field because of this wide range of new opportunities for trained, skilled OT’s as a result.
You’ll see that some OT’s hold down multiple part-time jobs with several institutions or organizations, or even have their own practice where they can be hired directly by patients, or hired by groups needing limited or part-time help.
One major growth area for occupational therapists is in schools. More attention continues to be paid to developmentally challenged children, mentally challenged children, and more. OT’s are the key bridge in getting these kids into a real classroom environment and allowing them to thrive and enjoy as normal and successful of an experience as possible. Physical disabilities can also be a major challenge for the school environment, and OT’s work on solutions or training to overcome these problems as well.
Of course, there are many other specific settings and industries where occupational therapists may be employed. The big two are the outpatient ambulatory healthcare facilities, and hospitals, where a number of different roles may be assigned. Individual physician offices, nursing homes and in-home healthcare services are all major employers as well, and as mentioned, schools represent a major growth portion of the field too.