What types of occupational therapy jobs are available in this field?
Most often, people who work in this field are occupational therapists, although you may also find employment as an occupational therapy aide or occupational therapy assistant. Occupational therapy aides do not require additional education beyond a high school diploma, while occupational therapy assistants must obtain additional schooling and certification as required by their respective states.
Occupational therapists are among the most visible and well-paid jobs within this field, and help patients directly improve their ability to perform tasks related to life skills or for work. Oftentimes, individuals are developmentally, physically, or emotionally disabled, such that they need assistance learning or relearning everyday tasks. Occupational therapists help patients gain the skills, so that they can be more independent -- sometimes, completely independent. The work is rehabilitative in nature as well, in that patients who have had a stroke or accident that has compromised physical skills can regain this function.
Job Duties Involve
Therapists in these types of occupational therapy jobs help patients learn everyday skills, including cooking, eating, getting dressed, and so on. They use a variety of tools and exercises to help improve dexterity, strength, visual acuity, and memory recall. For example, patients who have a stroke may experience short-term memory loss, such that the occupational therapist will work with that person to make lists so that recall is improved, while patients who have had impact from a stroke or accident resulting in the loss of coordination may be assigned exercises to regain that function.
Patients with long-term disabilities such as spinal cord injury will need to relearn how to do everyday functions in a different way than was previously done, as well. Occupational therapist in this respect help patients learn different ways to do things, including mastering adaptive equipment that will help them complete tasks like dressing, eating, bathing, and so on.
Occupational therapists also help the individuals who might not otherwise be able to return to work or get a job after some abilities have been acquired. They will work with the client and employer to evaluate the workspace so that it can be modified to the client's needs so that he or she can perform her job as efficiently as possible. For children, they may often do similar duties, in that they work with schools to modify classroom settings so that children can participate in school as easily and fully as possible.
Part of the duties of these types of occupational therapy jobs is to keep track of clients' progress, too. Because of this, occupational therapists must continually evaluate and keep accurate records of clients, both to report to physicians and healthcare providers (as well as to the client him or herself), and to bill accurately for the work done, as well.
Occupational therapy jobs often entail specialization, such as working exclusively with children, exclusively with spinal cord injury patients, and so on.
Occupational therapy jobs for an occupational therapist require that he or she get a masters degree in occupational therapy through an academic program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Occupational therapy jobs of this nature require that therapists must also be licensed for their state, and must participate in continuing education throughout their careers to remain licensed.
As of 2008, the median salary for occupational therapists in all fields was about $67,000.