Work Areas For Occupational Therapists


A lot of health conditions like mental and disability problems are now affecting various people of different ages. Some are incurred because of accidents, injuries, and illnesses, while some are acquired at birth. Because of these health problems, a lot of disciplines have been developed in order to provide the right medical attention for patients. When it comes to injuries and disability problems, some of the common solutions that come to mind are physical therapy and occupational therapy. These two are the same in many ways but they are totally different in terms of the type of conditions they handle and the kind of treatments they provide.

Occupational therapy is becoming a common health care for people of various ages today because it provides a holistic health care to people suffering from a particular health condition, injury or disability. Through this natural treatment, health is effectively promoted by restoring and developing the basic skills of the patient especially daily living skills and work functioning.

Functions and Duties of Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists or more commonly called as OT aim and helps a patient to recover from injuries and disabilities, and develop and improve basic skills and body functioning needed to survive. Just like physicians and physical therapists, they also review their patient’s medical records and history, conduct interview and sessions, and observe their patients while doing some tasks and activities. Through the observation and medical history, they make evaluations on the condition and needs of the patient.

Mental Health ProblemAfter determining the needs and health condition of the patient, they can now make a treatment plan specially tailored to match the patient’s health care needs and condition. They can help old patients, young adults, or even children with mental and physical disabilities. Some of the most common problems they handle are poor memory or mild mental problem especially in older people and autism especially in young ones. They also provide basic therapeutic treatments and exercise routines to naturally relieve pain like joint stretches for people suffering from arthritis or other types of chronic condition.

Depending on their roles or the industry they work in, some occupational therapists may work in a team in providing health care and treatment for patients like physicians, physical therapists, sports physical therapists, speech therapists, and audiologists.

Different Work Areas and Industries for OT

Occupational therapy is a very broad discipline covering a wide range of health care practices and treatments for so many types of health issues faced by people today. This is why occupational therapists also get to work in diverse settings depending on their preference, training, and specialization. Some of the most common work areas where OTs can work are:

  • Home and the Community – Work areas in this category include home care facilities, community action groups, vocational programs, clinics, community mental health centers, health boards or agencies, and private health institutions established to help communities.
  • Health Care Institutions – Work settings under this category include short term and long term care facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health centers, nursing homes, recreation centers, and correctional institutions.
  • Academic Institutions – Schools, colleges, universities, and various academic research centers.
  • Federal Government – A lot of occupational therapists work in various government institutions or agencies in their vocational or health planning programs, disability prevention and management programs, health promotion activities, and international rehabilitation programs and developments.
  • Business or Commercial Industries – Work areas in the business field where occupational therapists can work include rehabilitation companies, corporations, insurance companies, and even architectural companies or firms.

Most Common Work Environment

Work Areas For TherapistAccording to the report made by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, there are already 108,800 jobs held by OTs in year 2010. 48% of the total occupational therapists working in the country are employed in offices or centers established by a group of occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, and audiologists. Next highest percentage goes to hospitals including local, private and state hospitals wherein 27% of the total occupational therapists work in these work areas.

9% from the total population of professional and licensed OTs are employed in nursing care facilities while 7% work for home health care services. The remaining 3% work for private and family services, individual patients, and other work settings. It is common for OTs to work in various work settings at the same time taking part time jobs in various areas because of the great demand for their work.

Salary Levels In Various Work Settings

According to the same report released by the US BLS, the median salary of occupational therapists is $73,320 every year. This figure can be considered as high income especially in the health care industry. Lowest 10% earners receive salaries ranging from $45,000 to $50,000 while the highest 10% earners receive an annual average income ranging from $100,000 to $105,000.

The salary earned by occupational therapists working in the home health care services is the highest – starting from $79,500 and higher. Nursing care facilities and institutions also offer high salaries for licensed and well-experienced occupational therapists with the median pay of $78,410. As mentioned above, most OTs work in various occupational, physical and speech therapy offices or clinics. However, this industry only pays the 3rd highest salary ranging from 73,000 to 77,000 every year. Hospitals, family services, and private care services offer annual average income for occupational therapists ranging from 64,000 to $72,000 annually.

Job Opportunities And Outlook

The employment opportunity for occupational therapists is projected to grow 33% from year 2010 to 2020.  This growth is higher compared to the average increase in other occupations in various industries making this career a good option for those looking for a good, well-paying, and stable career in the health care industry. With the increasing population and the increasing number of people with health care needs especially mentally challenged and disabled patients, the need for occupational therapists will be also significantly more in demand in the coming years.

The increasing number of aging baby boomers is also a big factor in the growth for employment for OTs. Aside from being widely in demand and one of the highest paid professions in the industry, this profession also very fulfilling and rewarding because OTs get to help people and improve their lives by improving their basic skills and body functions.


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