Job Outlook For Occupational Therapists In 2013 And The Coming Years


Finding a job that does not only make you happy and contented but also provides great pay is possible if you work hard for it, invest in your education, and choose the right career. It is important to make sound decision when it comes to career choices as early as during your high school years. However, for those who are already working, career change is never too late especially nowadays where there are a lot of methods available to finish another degree.

When it comes to a rewarding and lucrative career, occupational therapy tops the list. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, occupational therapy careers will experience some of the fastest employment growth from year 2010 to 2020. Employment will increase 33% which is much faster than the average growth for all occupations.

The fast increase will open about 145,000 occupational therapy jobs in the country only. Aside from employment opportunities within the country, occupational therapists can also expect more job opportunities abroad especially with the rapid increase of population all over the world.

Factors Affecting The Employment Growth

 There are a lot of factors that contributed to the fast employment growth for occupational therapy careers. These factors are:

  • The population of aging baby boomers or elderly with physical and occupational therapy needs have continually increased.
  • The growing population of patients with injuries and disabilities needing the help of occupational therapy care and services.
  • The continuous developments in medical technologies allowing patients to survive longer and requiring longer therapy services.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation facilities and programs continue to increase in numbers and need additional help from health care professionals specializing in therapeutic services like occupational therapists.
  • Many children with disabilities need the help of occupational therapists to help them prepare for special education programs.
  • The federal government continue to give support by providing therapy services for disabled children and students.

Job Opportunities From Various Work Settings

Occupational TherapistsAccording to the US BLS, there are about 108,800 occupational therapy jobs in 2010 and 48% from this total population of occupational therapists work in private offices and centers of various therapists on physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and audiology. Some also work in hospital settings. Others are working in nursing homes, academic institutions, and in home health care services providing occupational therapy care for patients at home. The smallest percentage is self-employed doing private practice.

According to experts, job opportunities will be very good for occupational therapists in all work settings. A lot of occupational therapy jobs will be available in acute hospital setting, orthopaedic setting, and in rehabilitation care setting. The development of other health fields related to occupational therapy will also increase the demand for occupational therapy services such as ergonomic consulting and driver rehabilitation.

Better Work Environment

Aside from the great pay and employment opportunities, occupational therapy profession also tops the list when it comes to work environment and job satisfaction. According to CareerCast, occupational therapists report their jobs as average in terms of stress level compared to other medical professions. They have the option to work in medical facilities while they can also work in their patients’ homes through home health care services. Occupational therapists usually work an average of 6 to 8 hours only every day.

Income Opportunities For Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists are also some of the highest paid professionals in the country as of now. As stated in the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly wage of OTs in 2010 was $72,320. The lowest 10% earners of occupational therapists earn about $49,000 every year, which usually include entry-level OT jobs. The highest 10% earners received as much as $102,520 every year.

When it comes to pay by industries, some of the highest paying jobs are those in the home health care services. Occupational therapists in this industry can earn an average income of $80,000 every year. Nursing care facilities and work settings also provide high-income level to occupational therapists wherein OTs can earn as much as $78,410 yearly.

As mentioned above, most of the occupational therapists employed in the country are in the various offices of PTs, OTs, speech therapists and audiologists. Average income in this industry for OTs is $73,770 every year, while the average income in hospital work settings is about $72,450 per year.

According to the US BLS data, most occupational therapists work full time while some work part-time. With the high demand for occupational therapy services, some even work during weekends and during unusual work hours just to cater to the patient needs.

Everyday Life Of An Occupational Therapist

Although occupational therapy profession is indeed very lucrative, it is still important to understand what this profession really is, and whether this profession is really for you. The most important thing to remember when you are choosing the profession to pursue is your interests. If you are into science and health, and you have the compassion to help people, then this career will be a good option for you.

So what does occupational therapist work entails?

In general, occupational therapists help and treat patients with illnesses, disabilities, and injuries using therapeutic effects of everyday activities. Their scope of work and tasks sometimes overlaps with the functions of physical therapists but occupational therapy differs in many ways than physical therapy. Aside from helping patients recover from injuries and disabilities, occupational therapists make sure that functioning of the patient especially involving daily living and their work is restored and overall quality of life is improved.

Occupational therapists may even control and change the environment of the patient, which includes home, work, and other environments where the patient is exposed. They suggest and design changes and use of additional equipments that will help the patient recover and prevent further health problems resulting to injuries and disabilities. This is why occupational therapy is now closely related to ergonomics. Some occupational therapists work in various companies making sure that work space and work schedule are safe for everyone especially for the workers.


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