As technology and medicine improve, people are living longer and surviving accidents and diseases which would have once killed them. Now we have a larger population that is surviving more hardships and living longer than ever before. This means more care will be needed for the injured and elderly so that they can continue living a lifestyle that will keep them happy and, more importantly, healthy.
An occupational therapist career is quite complex. The therapist’s main duty is to reinforce, enhance, and restore the performance of injured patients and patients with disabilities. As a therapist you will teach them skills and functions in order for them to adapt to their injuries and disabilities in the real world.
This is no easy job; it requires constant monitoring of each patient. As no two people are the same, you will find that patients’ therapy will usually need to be adjusted to fit each patient individually. You will usually have a common starting point, but as time goes by, you will see what works for each person best and how to expand and alter care from that point.
Depending on the size of the organization that you are working for, you may have an assistant. If not, your duties will also include things such as ordering supplies and maintaining records, equipment, and of course your tools. These are usually entry-level tasks, but as the economy worsens, cutbacks happen and these tasks may get folded into your job.
If you are entering this field you need to be prepared to work in a variety of environments. Unfortunately, not all of them are the most cheerful settings. You are usually going to be working with patients during a very-trying recovery phase. You will be working in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, private homes, and nursing homes.
Of course, you an always go into private practice, schools, and camps, where the overall environment is usually a little less grey, and you will have younger patients that are more focused on recovering from an injury versus elderly that are struggling in the latter years of their lives.
Those of you that are looking to pursue a career in this field who are still attending high school should take courses in math, science, and computers. Today, most schools have honor programs that will give you college-level courses early on in your educational career that will better prepare you for college. You should take courses in biology, algebra, physical education, computer training, physical science, psychology, sociology, chemistry, and health occupations. Not all high schools will feature all of these courses, but most will have a decent amount of them. Talk to your guidance counselor and see which programs are offered and try to tailor your schedule around them.
In order to be an occupational therapist, you must have at the very least a master’s degree in occupational therapy. It is of course recommended that you pursue your education even further and get a PhD, which it will help you advance further down the road. Once you have obtained your degree, you will be required to pass a national certification examination.
As stated earlier, this field is expected to grow more quickly than many other occupations on the job market. You will find that your investment will quickly pay off; the average starting salary is over $60,000. It is much higher than that if you go into home healthcare and private nursing care facilities whose positions pay closer to $70,000 per year.
Get into the field as soon as possible. While you are getting your advanced degree, it is recommended that you take an occupational therapist technician assistant job. The pay will not be nearly as much as a full occupational therapist career, but it is most definitely a great way to start as you are getting your education. You will be introduced to various aspects of the occupation and getting paid for it. Taking assistant positions is also a great way to get your foot in the door with an established agency or healthcare facility.
However you go about pursuing occupational therapist technician jobs, you are undertaking an extremely noble career in a very special field. You are going to be helping people through some very difficult times when their attitude may not be at the best. It takes a special person to do this, but the rewards for doing so are incredible. This is a growing field with a lot of opportunities for those who are ready to devote their lives to helping others.