Occupational Therapist Occupational Therapy OT

How to Become an Occupational Therapist

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy takes a holistic, integrated approach to health, addressing a client’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. Occupational therapists (OTs) empower clients of all ages to thrive by utilizing lifestyle medicine, which focuses on disease prevention while enhancing the overall quality of life.

The “occupation” component of occupational therapy refers not only to your career but to any activity used to occupy your time, such as hobbies, volunteer work, activities with loved ones, and spiritual/religious activities. The goal is to pursue activities that offer fulfillment and purpose intentionally. 

OTs work with a wide range of individuals, communities, and populations in a variety of settings, including:

  • Skilling nursing and independent living facilities 
  • Hospitals
  • Private clinics
  • Schools and after-school programs
  • Family shelters

The roles of an OT are similarly diverse. You could spend your days working alongside physical therapists to help patients who have experienced a significant injury resume daily activities while also training family members to assist with tasks and safely use medical equipment. Your role could be assisting organizations in setting up ergonomic workspaces conducive to team member well-being and productivity. Or you could work with incarcerated people to effectively reenter the workforce by clarifying their career goals, learning new skills, and improving their resumes.

This diversity encourages constant growth in your career as an OT as you discover new ways to make a difference in others’ lives.

How Much Money Do Occupational Therapists Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for OTs nationwide is just over $85,000. As an OT in California, you can expect to make $106,538 annually, with a typical range between $97,593 and $116,061 (Salary.com). The job outlook is promising, with 14% projected growth from 2021-2031. 

How to Become an Occupational Therapist

You must now possess a Master’s in Occupational Therapy to obtain your OT license and enter the field. Obtaining an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) gives you an edge if you wish to work in academia or pursue leadership roles such as Clinical Director. 

Consider Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) ‘s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program, which will prepare you to become an innovative leader. This three-year program combines dynamic teaching, hands-on lab, fieldwork experience, and teamwork.

KGI’s OTD curriculum is based on an integrative and systems approach centered on occupation as a change agent and healing modality. Learn to achieve therapeutic outcomes by addressing the complex interplay of factors influencing occupational engagement, including physical and mental health, family systems, social factors, and the environment.

Achieve mastery in many areas needed to become a well-rounded practitioner, including the following:

  • Optimize service delivery based on evidence-based best practices and evolving theory.
  • Provide community-based services through an OT lens by determining the needs of a community, identifying funding sources, and developing programs. 
  • Address and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion issues at the practice and policy levels while developing lifelong skills to be a culturally responsive practitioner.

The OT Field Needs Innovators Like You

At KGI, innovators start here. In our OTD program, you will learn to address real-world needs creatively. Consider pioneering new approaches to occupational therapy and be an asset to the marketplace while meeting the ever-changing needs of our world. 

Learn how to tap into your unique qualities and skills to become an exceptional practitioner who acts with compassion, authenticity, and integrity every step of the way. Courses in leadership, advocacy, innovation, entrepreneurship, ethics, policy, and teaching will prepare you to be a change agent wherever you practice. 

Gain Real-World OT Experience

In KGI’s OTD program, you will have ample opportunities to put your knowledge into practice through fieldwork. Build strong foundational skills in traditional settings while exploring ways to break new ground in non-traditional settings. Uncover exciting possibilities for occupational therapy to address unmet needs by promoting health, well-being, and participation.

Gain further mastery in the skills needed to become an innovative leader and practitioner through the OTD capstone. Here you can demonstrate in-depth synthesis and application of knowledge within your preferred area of focus, working alongside a faculty mentor.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration as an OT

As an OT, interdisciplinary collaboration is essential. You may work with other professionals, including business leaders, therapists, nurses, physicians, social workers, and teachers, to coordinate the best plan for your client.

At KGI, we prepare you for this role by facilitating collaboration with students from other professional programs and disciplines, including KGI’s Master of Science in Medical Device Engineering (MSMDE) program. Learn basic design and engineering principles while creating device solutions to promote participation in daily activities.

Ready to embark on your career path as an OT? Contact us today to learn more about KGI’s OTD program and how to apply.