How to Become an Occupational Therapist
Occupational Therapist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of an Occupational Therapist
Occupational Therapist Salaries
Influential Professional Occupational Therapists
Leading Organizations for Occupational Therapists
Top Cities for Occupational Therapy Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
In order to become an occupational therapist, you must be licensed which requires a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy, plus 6 months of fieldwork, and a passing grade on state and national exams. In high school, the basic required courses would include the sciences of biology, chemistry and physics along with health, art and social sciences.
A Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy is the minimum entry requirement into the field. Most schools require full-time study but there are some that endorse weekend or part-time study programs. Following this career path involves dedication and a strong desire to help people.
While in school, students will study courses in anatomy, biology, psychology, anthropology, liberal arts and sociology. As a provision of licensing, completion of six months of supervised fieldwork is also required.
Students who graduate from an accredited occupational therapist program must then pass a national examination in order to obtain the designation of Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). Some states may have additional requirements.
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were over 99,000 occupational therapists working in the United States in 2006. The majority of these therapists were employed by hospitals. In January 2008, the career of occupational therapist was named in the U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Careers of 2008.
Occupational therapists can choose to specialize in many areas including pediatrics, vision or hand therapy, physical rehabilitation and sports.
Occupational therapists can assist patients in performing many types of activities including everyday things such as dressing themselves, cooking or eating. Physical exercises can be used to increase the strength and dexterity of a patient while a computer exercise program can be used to help a patient with hand-eye coordination or perceptual skills.
Occupational therapists can also help patients adapt to using equipment such as a wheelchair or eating and dressing aids. Occupational therapists can specialize in working with a particular age group or people that have a particular disability. Such an example would be working with the elderly to help them maintain productive and independent lives.
In a hospital or community setting, evaluation of a workplace environment along with planned work activities and assessing the progress can also be a regular part of an occupational therapist's job. They can also be involved in developing and conducting training programs, counseling, crisis intervention, organizing blood drives, health and wellness fairs, and CPR training for other facility employees.
Becoming an occupational therapist also requires a keen attention for detail, good interpersonal skills, being able to respond quickly, along with good problem solving skills. Being emotionally and physically able to handle stressful situations is also necessary along with being creative and highly motivated.
A career as an occupational therapist can be very rewarding as patients can benefit directly from the skills that have been learned and applied to the patient.
Again, in 2006, there were over 99,000 occupational therapists working in the United States with a projected 122,000 by 2016. Each of these occupational therapists is dedicated, hard working and committed to their field. There may be few identifiable influential people in this field but this is only because their work goes on behind the scenes.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a membership of over 36,000 occupational therapists in the United States. The association is dedicated to the promotion of health, quality of life and productivity for individuals through the use of occupational therapy techniques.
There are also occupational therapist organizations within individual U.S. states such as California, Colorado and Arizona, to name a few.
Due to the aging population of baby boomers, employment opportunities for occupational therapists will be in high demand over the next ten years as nursing home populations continue to grow. Occupational therapists will also be in demand for acute care hospitals, as well as orthopedic and rehabilitation settings.
The states of Florida, Texas and California consistently have a high demand for occupational therapists while the cities of Saint Petersburg, Houston and Los Angeles are hot spots.
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