How to Become an Occupational Therapist?

All of us are quite familiar with the fact that the contemporary lifestyle we have acquired puts various challenges and requirements in front of us on daily basis. Expectations are higher and higher for everyone, no matter which field of human activity may be at stake. Is that something to be concerned about? Yes, all of us are definitely worried, at least from time to time, that we may not reach all the expectations. That is the inner conflict that we sometimes may not be able to solve by ourselves, and that is where occupational therapists take the stage. Thus, this article will bring to light the vocation of an occupational therapist.

Versatile Vocation

To start with, like a number of other working positions, occupational therapy is a versatile vocation that enables one to work with different types of clients with different types of issues. Therefore, one who is interested in occupational therapy may firstly consider which working position among this area appears most attractive and suitable for them, so they can start gaining knowledge and experience in that particular position.

Thus, here is the list of various types of occupational therapy one may decide to perform:

  • Working with children

They can work individually or with groups of children, and they can perform therapy at home or in schools. The task of an occupational therapist who works with children is to evaluate children’s abilities, recommend their therapy and improve classroom equipment in order for the children to be more motivated to reach their goals.

  • Engaging in work-related therapy

Adults should not be underestimated when it comes to occupational therapy, since people who seem not to have any problems may also need certain assistance for reaching their own daily goals. That is why occupational therapists work with employed people and help them overcome their personal and career problems and reach the sense of achievement.

  • Working with Elderly

While getting old, we will lose many of our abilities. That is the law of nature, but we should by no means give into it. Therefore, the occupational therapists who work with elderly strive to help them find their inner strength and maintain their motor functions.

  • Working with Terminally Ill and Disabled People

This type of occupational therapy may be the one that brings the greatest responsibilities, since people who are terminally ill or disabled need utmost attention, dedication and special care, on top of that. Therefore, occupational therapists who work with such patients must be capable of using adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs or orthotics.

Essential Vocation

The first question regarding this topic is if we all know what an occupational therapist is and what this working position entails. Since all of us are surrounded with various encouraging messages, we seem to be overwhelmed with that content and we may miss noticing what is helpful for us.

At this point, it is important to emphasize that occupational therapists are the people who are highly educated, well trained and thus specialized in the field of psychology and helping people overcome their daily hardships that make it hard for them to reach their daily goals.

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

Here is the job description of this vocation. In order to bring a certain working position up and make this article interesting to both the ones who maybe desire to become occupational therapists themselves and to the ones who simply wish to get more pieces of information in this field, this article must list certain tasks and responsibilities that this working position entails.

Therefore, here is the list of some basic tasks of every occupational therapist:

  • Promote health
  • Help prevent injuries and disabilities
  • They help a person recover from mental or physical injuries or post-traumatic issues
  • They help their clients attain and improve the highest level of :
  • self-fulfillment
  • general health
  • independence

Occupational therapists help their clients regain energy, obtain and maintain both physical and mental balance and health in order to feel good about themselves and to be able to reach their goals. Therefore, a person who undergoes a treatment in occupational therapy has better chances of becoming independent by achieving his or her goals.

Work Environment of an Occupational Therapist

When it comes to the working space where occupational therapists may find themselves, we may say that it varies both from their personal preferences and from the preferences of their clients as well.

Since occupational therapy is a vocation in which one needs to be dedicated to the person one treats and one needs to obtain a close contact and maintain communication with that person, the possibility of working from a long distance are excluded. Therefore, occupational therapists do not have so many chances to work online.

Depending on the preferences of both occupational therapists and their clients, here are some of the possible work environments for them:

  • Working from home, in which case occupational therapists determine their own working hours and their clients visit them according to their appointments
  • Working in an office, where clients can call an occupational therapist and make an appointment. An occupational therapist has fixed working hours because he or she finds it more suitable in this case.
  • Working in a healthcare facility – Some occupational therapist do decide to work in a state, official healthcare facility since they are more fond of such work environment and working conditions.
  • Visiting their clients – In some cases, occupational therapists need to visit their clients on regular basis, especially if they are treating a terminally ill patient.

How to Become an Occupational Therapist?

In such articles that bring certain working positions to light, we may by no means omit to explain how one can take the particular working position up. In other words, one of the aims of this article is to bring up what it takes to become a successful occupational therapist.

Since occupational therapy is a serious vocation that comes along with numerous responsibilities, it also requires having certain skills and gaining thorough knowledge. To determine whether you are appropriate for a future occupational therapist, first check whether you obtain these skills or not:

  • Sense of compassion
  • Empathy
  • Dedication
  • Being highly responsible
  • Communication skills
  • Patience

If one thinks one has the skills listed above, one may take a crack at occupational therapy as their future working position. One must bear in mind that occupational therapy is a highly versatile vocation. Therefore, one has to make sure to choose the type of occupational therapy one desires to dedicate their life and career to. Having made that decision, one may look into various education programs that will make them capable of becoming occupational therapists in the particular field they have chosen.

Education and Training for Occupational Therapists

We all know that proper education is one of the basic requirements whatever working position may be at stake. In addition, the majority of us are aware of the fact that educational system is traditionally divided into three types, which are:

  • Formal Education, related to university programs (Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD)
  • Non-formal Education, which includes various seminars and courses that one can visit to become a holder of certain certificates
  • Informal Education, which includes getting educated on one’s own by attending various online courses, seminars and simply gaining versatile knowledge without anyone’s assistance.

Formal Education

Formal education comes as the first type on the list and therefore we will get down to it before proceeding to the other ones. Formal education enables one to get various degrees in occupational therapy, starting from undergraduate major, which qualifies one for an occupational therapy assistant.

Undergraduate Major

In order to become occupational therapy assistant, one may attend a program in a certain school and get to the educational level of an undergraduate major. This kind of program includes a few disciplines, such as:

  • kinesiology
  • psychology
  • anthropology
  • biology
  • sociology

Bachelor Studies

In order to obtain the position of a fully qualified occupational therapist, one who decides to undergo a program of formal education will definitely need to attend bachelor studies after attaining the undergraduate level in this field. Therefore, in order for the readers interested in occupational therapy as their future working position, this article will bring up a list of top-ranked universities, formed by renowned organizations in the field:

  • Kaplan University
  • Virginia College
  • Lincoln Tech
  • Keiser University
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Colorado Technical University

Master Studies

Bachelor studies’ programs require their candidate to be a high school graduate, or at least to have a GED, whereas master studies’ programs require finishing bachelor studies and having a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy.

Licensing

In order to start working as an accredited occupational therapist, one must obtain a license after having completed a formal educational program and having obtained a certain degree. Therefore, one must undergo a program of practice in the field and pass the exam created by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Voluntary Certification

What is also crucial when it comes to starting a career in occupational therapy and becoming an accredited occupational therapist is that one of the requirements that future candidates for this working position must reach is completing the sufficient amount of fieldwork. Occupational therapist can pursue their specialty certifications from the American Occupational Therapy Association, and they may choose to engage in some among the numerous fields that are offered, such as:

  • gerontology
  • low vision
  • pediatrics
  • environmental modification
  • physical rehabilitation

We will repeat once again that occupational therapy is, by all means, a versatile vocation that may include working with children, patients who are terminally ill or disabled or it can mean engaging in work-related therapy. Therefore, one must decide on which of the fields one desires to get voluntary experience in according to the field of occupational therapy that they see as their future career option.

Online Education

We promised that this article would by no means cover only the programs connected to the formal education. Therefore, we will now get down to presenting certain online programs and informal courses that may as well prepare one for becoming a successful occupational therapist. Before we proceed to that topic, it is essential to point out that most of the universities mentioned in the list above offer both campus and online programs.

Here is the list of some short online courses offered by La Trobe Organization:

  • Occupational Therapy Short Course at La Trobe
  • Anatomy and Psychology Short Course
  • Psychology Short Course

Although one may conclude that not all of the courses listed above are directly related to occupational therapy, in particular, the fact is that all of the courses mentioned in the list above do offer certain contents that are highly required in the field of occupational therapy. Therefore, the programs offered by these courses and the knowledge that may be obtained appear quite useful to all the ones who perceive occupational therapy as their desirable future career.

Certification and Degree

One who desires to start one’s career in this area needs to obtain a degree in a certain level of education and to obtain a certificate, or in other words, a license that proves they have reached the sufficient amount of working hours in the field of occupational therapy.

That is because a person who wants to become an occupational therapist needs to be highly educated but also experienced in working in the field mentioned. Therefore, in order to inform the readers about degrees and certifications:

  • Undergraduate Degree in Occupational Therapy
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
  • Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
  • PhD in Occupational Therapy (doctoral level)
  • Occupational Therapist Registered Credential

Salary

Have you ever wondered how much do occupational therapists make? According to the results of the research conducted in May 2015 by the renowned US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average annual salary of an occupational therapist appears to reach the amount of $80,150. According to the aforementioned research, the predicted job growth for this working position is 4%.

Job Outlook

Since we have concluded through this article that occupational therapy is an essential and a highly versatile vocation, we may also draw a conclusion that the job outlook for this position is promising and auspicious, as well as the opportunities for employment that the specialists in this field have. We have concluded that occupational therapists may work with various clients with different issues and therefore they have the best chances of finding their future workplace.

Similar Occupations

Some of the readers may ask themselves if there are any positions similar to the working position of an occupational therapist since we have not mentioned any of them in the article yet. Anyway, some vocations are definitely similar to the one of an occupational therapist. Most often, people tend to mistake occupational therapists with physical therapists. Thus, this occupation shares the greatest number of similarities with the vocation of occupational therapy.