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How to Become an Occupational Therapist: Job Description 2022

Occupational Therapist

How to Become an Occupational Therapist: Job Description 2022

Do you like to help others improve their lives, especially if they have health problems? A career as an occupational therapist (OT) might be the best option for you. Learn how to become an occupational therapist.

In this article, we will discuss the following details on how you can become an occupational therapist to decide if occupational therapy could be a career for you.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy (OT) is a form of rehabilitation that helps people with health problems return to meaningful daily activities.

Occupational therapists focus on education, functional training, and participation in daily activities, rather than relying on drugs or surgery.

Occupational therapists consider themselves health professionals and work with doctors, nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, respiratory therapists, and many other health professionals to provide comprehensive care for patients suffering from debilitating illness or injury.

What do occupational therapists do?

If you are considering a career in OT, it is very important that you really become familiar with the work of occupational therapists. This is an important step before deciding to invest the time, money, and energy to get started.

Occupational therapists often work with patients suffering from debilitating illnesses and injuries.

An OT helps patients determine what types of life activities are most important to them and develops strategies to ensure that patients can participate in these activities. This can range from cooking to participating in the community garden club, bathing and dressing independently.

We believe that returning to normal daily activities not only supports the healing process, but is also the end goal of rehabilitation.

Typically, an operating day is spent with multiple patients on a set schedule. Occupational therapists assess and assess the patient’s needs and then establish plans of care that consist of discrete functional recovery goals. Much of an OP’s job is to solve patients’ problems and identify the right types of interventions to address the problems.

The types of interventions and care plans that an OT selects are tailored to the individual needs of the patient, but the patient’s needs span a wide range, and there are many types of treatment approaches and settings that OTs can choose from. .

Where do occupational therapists work?

Here are some of the common settings in which occupational therapists work:

  • Hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities.
  • Qualified care facilities (sometimes called nursing homes or convalescent homes)
  • Schools
  • Patient homes
  • Private clinics

It is worth noting that OTs spend much of their time completing paperwork. Every patient’s case must be documented, and the rules and documentation framework can be very expensive.

This means that occupational therapists spend much of their day realistically writing case notes and communicating with team members.

What skills would an occupational therapist need?

Occupational therapists combine science with a healthy dose of compassion. OTs must be analytical, but also patient and encouraging. You should have fun with science (especially anatomy and kinesiology) and enjoy working with the public.

Occupational therapists have to be excellent listeners and problem solvers, and also understand how to teach others effectively.

Much of the work of an OT is in the education of patients, families and caregivers. Therefore, it is important that occupational therapists understand how to communicate and educate effectively.

OTs must also be very security-oriented. One of the biggest issues field coordinators face (providing OT students with clinical experience in the field) is a lack of student safety awareness.

Much of the work in an operating room is about the safety of patients and family members, which can be challenging. From teaching family members how to help safely while bathing and using the toilet, to demonstrating the safe use of medical equipment, a primary focus in OT is teaching safety awareness.

What level of education do you need to become an occupational therapist?

While some occupational therapists are from the bachelor’s period, a master’s degree is required as an OT entry-level education. Many schools offer a doctorate (OTD).

How long do you study to become an occupational therapist?

In most cases, you will have to complete undergraduate studies (four years, unless you finish your studies prematurely or have an accelerated program), and then you will be in occupational therapy school for two to three years.

During this time, you will also be doing field work where you work as an Occupational Therapy Student (OTS) under the supervision of a licensed OT.

It should be noted that each state in the United States has its own rules and regulations for practicing OT. You need an OT license for each state you want to practice in, and each state has its own licensing and license renewal requirements.

What is the best main subject for occupational therapy?

If you are seriously thinking about occupational therapy, you should consider the OT school requirements. I would like to start by visiting different OT schools to see exactly what they are capable of.

  • Developmental Psychology (this course should cover the lifespan).
  • Abnormal psychology (this course should cover the lifespan).
  • Behavioral science (an additional social science course).
  • Anatomy and physiology of human beings I and II (with laboratory).
  • Elementary statistics

It should be noted that my scientific credentials have been fulfilled in the last decade and NYU would not accept online scientific (or even hybrid) requirements.

How much money does an occupational therapist make?

If you are considering a career as an occupational therapist, you are likely weighing your earning potential. There are many factors that affect your salary as an occupational therapist.

Many years of experience, expertise, location, and attitude affect your compensation. Also, some employers pay hourly rates, while others pay wages.

Based on our research on numerous websites, and our own calculations, we have calculated a national average of $76,448 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for occupational therapists as of May 2017 is $83,200.

You can see that occupational therapists are doing quite well financially, but these figures don’t show that occupational therapists have a pretty bad debt-to-income ratio.

While beginning occupational therapists tend to earn slightly less than the national average of $ 72,000, mid-career workers earn about 6 percent more than the national average. This number increases for career starters by 19 percent.

Income also depends on where an occupational therapist practices. Prospective occupational therapists should look at country-specific payroll information to get a more accurate picture of the area in which they want to work.

Steps on how to be an occupational therapist

If your dream is to pursue a career as an occupational therapist, you should pay proper attention to the following steps listed below as the main procedures that qualify you to work as an occupational therapist.

Get a bachelor’s degree

The first step in becoming an occupational therapist is meeting the requirements for admission to the OT school. This means that you must acquire a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree with the required courses.

Get an associate’s degree

Occupational therapy careers require advanced degrees, but completion of an occupational therapy assistant is a practical starting point. These two-year programs prepare students for the Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) exam, a national exam conducted by the National Certification Board in Occupational Therapy.

Students can acquire knowledge and skills in subjects such as biology; Anatomy and physiology; Theory and practice of mental and physical health; Pediatrics; and geriatrics.

Programs generally include field work, during which students complete hands-on exercises for occupational therapy assistants. 

Take the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam

Graduates interested in becoming occupational therapy assistants can take the COTA exam after completing an associate’s degree. The COTA is a computer-assisted exam consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions.

After passing the exam, candidates will receive an official NBCOT certificate and wallet card approximately 4-6 weeks after the exam evaluation.

Gain experience in the field of occupational therapy.

Students who pass the COTA exam can seek employment as occupational therapy assistants to gain experience in occupational therapy.

While it is not necessary to work as an assistant in the occupational therapy field before applying for occupational therapy, the likelihood of studying for a master’s degree may increase with experience. 

Pass the OTR (Registered Occupational Therapy) exam

Passing the OTR exam is required to become a licensed occupational therapist. Like the COTA exam, the OTR is computer-based. 

There are three clinical simulation problems and 170 multiple-choice questions that are used to assess a candidate’s ability to draw conclusions about the client’s needs, obtain information about the client’s job performance, and the factors that contribute to selecting appropriate therapies, and managing occupational therapy and direct services.

Pass the NBCOT

After completing your occupational therapy studies, you must pass the National Board Exam (NBCOT).

Get the state license

Occupational therapists must be admitted to the state in which they wish to practice. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but generally require an NBCOT score, academic credentials, and a background test. License fees also vary and can range from $50 to $240.

Additional fees may apply for fingerprints and temporary licenses. To keep their license current, occupational therapists must complete training courses. You can also do a doctorate to become a specialist and obtain certificates of specialization.

Licenses and certifications

Certification is voluntary but shows that you are serious about your field of expertise. Occupational therapists must pass the National Occupational Health and Safety Certification Exam (NBCOT) to become certified.

The board’s mission is to provide “a world-class standard” for the field.

With NBCOT certification, therapists can use the title of Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR). You will also attend continuing education courses to receive your certification over time.

All states require admission of occupational therapists. To obtain your license, you will need an accredited qualification from the program and the NBCOT certification. Check the state you want to work in for additional fees and requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Become an Occupational Therapist?

How many years does it take to become an occupational therapist?

To become an occupational therapist, you will need to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree and pass the required licensure exams. You can expect to spend six to seven years in school: four years for an undergraduate degree and two to three years for a graduate degree (if attending on a full-time basis).

What qualifications do you need to be an occupational therapist?

To become an occupational therapist, you’ll need a degree in occupational therapy, which can take four years full-time or up to six years part-time. In postgraduate studies, it’s possible to gain a master’s degree in one to two years.

Is it hard to become an occupational therapist?

The short answer is: YES, occupational therapy school is hard. … These programs want to ensure you’re equipped to competently and safely work in the healthcare field, so you’re going to have a good amount of science classes involved in any of these programs, along with challenging clinical/fieldwork rotations.

Is Occupational Therapy harder than nursing?

I can tell you that nursing is more physically draining than PT or OT due to the nature of care you provide. A nurse is an invaluable member of the healthcare team indeed. Still, for me I’d say PT or OT is harder. It’s a whole different ballgame when you have to make a diagnosis and actual program for your patient.

Can I become an Occupational Therapist without a degree?

An accredited degree in Occupational Therapy is generally considered a prerequisite for this profession. However, entry without a degree is possible at assistant, technician, or support worker level, where you could then progress to become a fully qualified Occupational Therapist after further study and experience.

What exactly does an occupational therapist do?

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

Are occupational therapists paid well?

Occupational Therapists made a median salary of $84,950 in 2019. The best-paid 25 percent made $101,590 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $69,710.

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