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Career Profile: Occupational Therapists

Assess, plan, and organize rehabilitative programs that help build or restore vocational, homemaking, and daily living skills, as well as general independence, to persons with disabilities or developmental delays. Use therapeutic techniques, adapt the individual's environment, teach skills, and modify specific tasks that present barriers to the individual.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 131,600 people employed as occupational therapists in the United States. The median annual salary is $86,300. Entry level employees earn approximately $57,330 per year and senior employees earn approximately $122,670 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Lay out materials such as puzzles, scissors and eating utensils for use in therapy, and clean and repair these tools after therapy sessions.
  • Consult with rehabilitation team to select activity programs or coordinate occupational therapy with other therapeutic activities.
  • Design and create, or requisition, special supplies and equipment, such as splints, braces, and computer-aided adaptive equipment.
  • Recommend changes in patients' work or living environments, consistent with their needs and capabilities.
  • Develop and participate in health promotion programs, group activities, or discussions to promote client health, facilitate social adjustment, alleviate stress, and prevent physical or mental disability.
  • Provide training and supervision in therapy techniques and objectives for students or nurses and other medical staff.
  • Help clients improve decision making, abstract reasoning, memory, sequencing, coordination, and perceptual skills, using computer programs.
  • Conduct research in occupational therapy.
  • Advise on health risks in the workplace or on health-related transition to retirement.
  • Provide patients with assistance in locating or holding jobs.
  • Test and evaluate patients' physical and mental abilities and analyze medical data to determine realistic rehabilitation goals for patients.
  • Complete and maintain necessary records.
  • Plan, organize, and conduct occupational therapy programs in hospital, institutional, or community settings to help rehabilitate those impaired because of illness, injury or psychological or developmental problems.
  • Plan and implement programs and social activities to help patients learn work or school skills and adjust to handicaps.
  • Select activities that will help individuals learn work and life-management skills within limits of their mental or physical capabilities.
  • Evaluate patients' progress and prepare reports that detail progress.
  • Train caregivers in providing for the needs of a patient during and after therapy.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
131,600
Annual Openings:
10,100
Increase in Openings by 2030:
18%
Annual Salary Range:
$57,330 - $122,670
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher