Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants teach people, who are ill, injured, or disabled to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living skills they need to function in their homes and at work. The skills that those in occupational therapy teach often are as basic as dressing, cooking, and grooming. They also teach people how to use computers and adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs or orthoses. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants can work in hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, or schools. Occupational therapists also may make home visits to patients.
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Occupational therapists are required to have a master's degree or higher. You can also work in the field as an occupational therapist assistant or occupational therapist aide. To become an occupational therapist assistant, you must attend a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The program includes a year of course study and 16 weeks of supervised field work in a health-care setting. Once completed, you are eligible to sit for the national certifying exam. Occupational therapist aides receive on-the-job training.
Job Outlook Promising for Occupational Therapy Careers
Many states regulate occupational therapists assistants by requiring that they be licensed or registered or have certification. The requirements vary from state to state. Courses for occupational therapy assistants cover health care, medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs in occupational therapy to grow much faster than average as the demand for occupational therapy services is rising. Also, occupational therapists increasingly use assistants and aides.
In May 2008, the median annual wage of occupational therapists was $66,780. Occupational assistants earned a median annual wage of $48,230, whereas occupational therapist aides earned $26,960.