occupational therapy otd women wheelchair man

Is Occupational Therapy a Good Career?

Occupational therapists are highly educated medical professionals who possess advanced knowledge of physical, mental, and behavioral therapy. Practitioners work with patients who have limited self-care abilities across a number of areas. The end goal of occupational therapy is to help patients develop, learn, or grow in their capacity to individually handle the type of daily tasks required to live independently. If you’re interested in occupational therapy, you’ll find it offers a high degree of job satisfaction and excellent income potential.

How much do occupational therapists make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual earnings for an occupational therapist is just under $85K per year. By comparison, the median household income in the U.S. is around $62K per year.

The average salary of occupational therapists is higher than for many other roles in healthcare. For registered nurses, the average salary is just over $73K. The average annual income for occupational therapists exceeds that of radiologic technologists ($62K), dental hygienists ($76K), speech-language pathologists ($79K), and many other types of healthcare professionals.

Many occupational therapists make well above the median annual pay for the role. More experienced occupational therapists in certain locations can earn over $100K. According to ZipRecruiter, 14% of occupational therapist jobs posted to the site advertise salaries between $133K to $153K. ZipRecruiter places average income for occupational therapists at $114K – much higher than the available BLS data.

Job outlook for occupational therapists

Job opportunities are plentiful for individuals interested in entering the occupational therapy profession. The BLS projects the demand for labor in occupational therapy to grow by 18% through 2028. Given there were around 133,000 occupational therapy jobs in 2018, an 18% growth rate means nearly 24,000 more occupational therapy jobs will be added by 2028 – an increase of thousands of new jobs in occupational therapy will be available each year.

Most healthcare careers are expected to grow rapidly over the coming decade. Even still, the job outlook for occupational therapy is higher than in many other healthcare professions. BLS-projected job growth in occupational therapy exceeds that of registered nurses (12%), radiologic technologists (9%), dental hygienists (11%), and even pharmacists (0%).

Occupational therapy career advancement

There are numerous career advancement opportunities in occupational therapy. Similar to other medical professions, occupational therapists can engage in continuing educational development opportunities and enhance their strengths with specialization.

Practicing occupational therapists must be certified and licensed through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). However, there are currently more than 30 occupational therapy certifications available to earn, either from the AOTA or from various other organizations. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Certified Diabetes Educator
  • Certified Autism Specialist
  • Certified Low Vision Specialist
  • Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Certified Hand Therapist
  • Certified Brain Injury Specialist
  • Certified Aging in Place Specialist
  • Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner

The expansive number of specialization and certification options makes occupational therapy one of the most versatile healthcare careers.

How to become an occupational therapist

Although the BLS notes that most occupational therapists hold a master’s degree, a doctorate in occupational therapy will help guarantee your strength on the job market. At Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), you can earn an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) in just three years. KGI emphasizes hands-on and experiential learning. Our accredited advanced degrees in healthcare and biotechnology prepare graduates for leading roles in their chosen professions.

KGI’s OTD program will be available starting in the fall of 2022.

Contact us today to learn more about our upcoming Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, including application requirements, deadlines, and financial aid opportunities.