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Occupational therapists work with people who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Their patients may have lost mental or motor functions due to illness, injury or emotional trauma. In some cases, occupational therapists are able to assist patients recover motor skills, or cope with the permanent loss of those skills. Professionals, in this line of work, may also assist those with disabilities relearn basic skills such as walking, reading and performing personal hygiene.
Occupational therapists work with their patients, so that they can lead independent and fulfilling lives. They strive to help their patients reach their full potential regardless of their disabilities.
If you are considering a career as an occupational therapist you should have a great deal of patience and compassion, enjoy working with people, and have excellent communication skills.
The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that in 2008, occupational therapists earned a median annual income of approximately $66,780; the highest 10% earned $98,310.
Training and Education
People considering this career must have at least a master's degree in occupational therapy. If you are thinking about occupational therapy as a career, helpful courses include biology, chemistry, physics, health, art, and social sciences.
Some schools offer a combined bachelor's and master's degree program in occupational therapy. Courses typically consist of classroom study and fieldwork. Prior to graduation students must often perform 6 months of supervised fieldwork.
All states regulate the occupational therapist profession. Certification is achieved by graduating from an accredited school as an occupational therapist, and by taking an examination. Upon successfully completing both the educational and examination requirements, you will receive the designation of Occupational Therapist Registered.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that in 2006 there were approximately 99,000 certified occupational therapists in the country. Employment included hospitals and private practices. Some occupational therapists work for physicians, government agencies, or retirement facilities.
The future of this career is expected to be better than average. This is due in part to aging Baby Boomers and an increase in age related disabilities--furthermore, there has been an increase in disabilities in the general population.