8/25/2023  Don DiCicco

How Occupational Therapy Offers A Rewarding Healthcare Career (2023)

Are you searching for a healthcare career that combines medical expertise with holistic care? Look no further than the dynamic field of Occupational Therapy (OT). In this article, we'll explore why occupational therapy is a standout career choice in the healthcare sector, catering to individuals with a passion for making a profound impact on people's lives. Whether you're an aspiring healthcare professional or a seasoned practitioner seeking a fulfilling change, understanding the distinctive aspects of occupational therapy will undoubtedly pique your interest.


Occupational therapy has evolved into a thriving healthcare discipline that bridges the gap between medical treatment and personal empowerment. This article unveils the unique characteristics that make a career as an occupational therapist a remarkable career choice. From explaining the role of occupational therapists to outlining educational pathways, exploring career prospects, and addressing the demand for this profession, we delve into every facet that makes occupational therapy an exciting and fulfilling journey. Join us in uncovering how this field can transform your healthcare aspirations into a meaningful reality.

A therapist and client.

The Essence of Occupational Therapy: Transforming Lives

Occupational therapy is not just a career; it's a calling to help individuals of all ages regain their independence and live life to the fullest. Occupational therapists (OTs) are healthcare professionals who specialize in assisting patients to overcome physical, mental, or emotional challenges that hinder their ability to engage in daily activities.

Occupational therapists work closely with people of all ages to develop personalized treatment plans that address their unique needs and goals. Whether it's aiding a child to improve motor skills, helping an adult regain their mobility after an injury,  or assisting seniors to continue to be self-sufficient, OTs play a pivotal role in enhancing the quality of life for their patients.

Licensed occupational therapists may also work closely with other therapy professionals, such as physicians, speech therapists, physical therapists, and nurses. The networking, variety, and especially the satisfaction of helping patients improve their lives make OT a rewarding career.

Overview: Occupational Therapist 

  • Occupational therapy is a multidimensional career that empowers patients to regain independence and engage in meaningful activities.
  • Aspiring occupational therapists undergo rigorous education and practical experience to develop their skills.
  • The career path of an occupational therapist is characterized by diverse settings and specialization options.
  • The growing demand for occupational therapists reflects their essential role in healthcare.
  • Occupational therapy offers competitive earnings and high levels of job satisfaction.
  • Technology is reshaping the field, with online occupational therapy becoming more prevalent.
  • Collaboration with interdisciplinary teams enriches patient care.
  • Pursuing a doctoral degree opens doors to advanced roles.
  • Occupational therapy transcends borders, offering global opportunities.
  • The fulfilling journey of an occupational therapist is rooted in making a positive impact.

Educational Pathways: Becoming an Occupational Therapist

To become an occupational therapist, a comprehensive educational journey is required. Most students interested in an occupational therapy program will need to take undergraduate courses in anatomy, medical terminology, psychology, physiology, and similar prerequisites. 

Aspiring OTs pursue a master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy. This education equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective therapeutic interventions.

After completing their education, occupational therapists must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam (NBCOT). The next step after successfully passing the exam is to apply for a license to practice in your state.

Occupational Therapy Assistant: Gaining Valuable Experience

Another possibility is to become an occupational therapy assistant. Many universities and even community colleges offer two-year programs of education and training for a career as an occupational therapy assistant.

A therapist working on patient's feet.

OT assistants typically undergo fieldwork and clinical experiences to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. This hands-on experience is vital for honing their clinical skills and preparing them for the diverse challenges they'll encounter in their careers.

Exploring the Career Path: A World of Possibilities

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, ranging from hospitals and rehabilitation centers to schools, community centers, and private clinics. This versatility allows OTs to choose a specialization that aligns with their interests and strengths. Whether it's working with patients recovering from surgery, helping children with developmental delays, or assisting seniors in maintaining their independence, the options are diverse and rewarding.

Moreover, occupational therapy isn't limited to direct patient care. OTs can also pursue research, education, and administration roles within the healthcare sector. This breadth of opportunities ensures that occupational therapists can find a niche that resonates with their professional goals.

Career Outlook: The Growing Need for Occupational Therapists

As the healthcare landscape evolves, the demand for occupational therapists continues to rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the employment of occupational therapists will grow 17%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations from 2021 to 2031. This projection reflects the increasing recognition of occupational therapy’s vital role in improving patients' lives.

The aging population and advancements in medical care have led to a higher demand for rehabilitation services, making occupational therapy a critical component of the healthcare industry. As a result, occupational therapists are well-positioned to enjoy a wealth of job opportunities and a stable career outlook.

Embracing Technology: The Evolution of Occupational Therapy

Technology is transforming healthcare practices in our modern era, and occupational therapy is no exception. Online occupational therapy services are becoming increasingly popular, allowing OTs to connect with patients virtually and provide therapeutic interventions through telehealth platforms. This technology-driven approach enhances accessibility to care and opens new avenues for occupational therapists to reach patients in need.

Enriching Healthcare through Collaboration: The Role of an OT in Interdisciplinary Teams

Occupational therapists don't work in isolation. They are integral members of interdisciplinary healthcare teams, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and other specialists. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of their well-being. The ability to collaborate with various professionals contributes to a well-rounded and holistic approach to patient care.

Making Advancement: Pursuing an Occupational Therapy Doctorate

While a master's degree is the traditional pathway to becoming an occupational therapist, many professionals are now pursuing doctoral degrees in the field. A Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) or a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) can elevate an OT's expertise and open doors to advanced leadership, education, and research roles.

A therapist interviews a new patient.

Working in Occupational Therapy Beyond Borders: Global Opportunities

Occupational therapy is not confined to a single country or region. Its principles and practices are applicable across the globe, offering OTs the opportunity to work in diverse cultural and healthcare contexts. This international scope makes occupational therapy a highly transferable and impactful career choice.

Occupational Therapy: Salary Expectations

Apart from the intrinsic rewards of positively impacting patients' lives, occupational therapy offers competitive compensation. The average annual salary for occupational therapists reflects their expertise and the value they bring to healthcare teams. In larger cities and metro areas in the US, you can expect a salary in the $90K to $120K range. Smaller cities and areas with a lower cost of living may average $70K to $105. 

Additionally, the emotional rewards of witnessing patients achieve milestones and regain their independence contribute to high levels of job satisfaction in this field.

Making a Difference: The Fulfilling Journey of a Career in Occupational Therapy

Ultimately, a career in occupational therapy is defined by its potential to make a difference. Occupational therapists help patients overcome challenges, regain independence, and reclaim their lives. The unique blend of medical knowledge, compassionate care, and personalized approaches sets occupational therapy apart as a healthcare profession that touches hearts and transforms lives..

Embark on a career path that combines medical expertise with compassion, and join the ranks of occupational therapists who are changing lives one step at a time.