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All About OT

Explore a career where you can make a difference every day.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a healthcare profession that enables people of all ages to participate in daily living by preventing, lessening, or adapting to challenges. It involves the use of assessment and intervention to help individuals develop, recover, or maintain meaningful activities or occupations. These activities can be things like getting dressed, eating, playing sports, doing schoolwork, and so much more.

Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?

Due to the many needs occupational therapy addresses and the wide array of people they work with (from babies to older adults), occupational therapists work in a variety of settings. Services may be provided in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, primary care offices, schools, community settings (community centers, shelters, free clinics), client's homes, and many other locations.

How Does An Occupational Therapist Compare To A Physical Therapist?

Occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) work to improve people’s lives through rehabilitation. The fields are related and have many similarities but differ in focus and scope. Both roles evaluate clients and offer customized plans of care, and treat a wide variety of conditions. They also work with family members and caregivers to provide their clients with the support they need, treat people of all ages with medical issues, and work in a variety of settings.

OTs work with people who’ve had illnesses, injuries, and disabilities that prevent them from participating in their normal daily activities. Their goal is to help people regain control over their own health in various ways, including helping them with cooking, bathing, dressing, and more. OTs are focused on a holistic approach as each task addresses the client’s goals and preferences. They also address pain management by incorporating the entire person - body, mind, and spirit.

PTs treat the effects of disease, injury, and disability by using exercise, manual therapy, education, and therapeutic activity. PTs are generally focused on providing specific interventions to improve particular movements. Their primary goals are to help patients improve their movement and function and also reduce their physical pain.

The main difference between OTs and PTs is the scope of their work. PTs usually focus on helping people move better, while OTs take a holistic approach to improve functioning and work on many social, emotional, and work-related situations.

Who Can Become An Occupational Therapist?

Anyone can become a successful occupational therapist with the right education/training and licensure.

Occupational therapists blend science with a healthy dose of compassion. Here are a few characteristics that are beneficial to have:

  • Passion for helping others overcome challenges, regain independence, and discover or rediscover what matters to them.
  • Communication and collaboration skills as OTs interact with clients, their families and other healthcare providers.
  • Patience is needed to understand the client’s needs and assist them in working through any frustrations that may arise as the client moves towards their treatment goal.
  • Organizational skills to manage clients' goals, schedules, and appointments and coordinate with other healthcare professionals to ensure the best care is provided to each client.
  • Creative problem-solving skills since every client is unique. Therefore, each client needs special strategies in order to attain their treatment goals as fast as circumstances allow. Also, on-the-spot adjustments during a treatment session may be needed to accommodate available equipment and the client's abilities on a given day.
  • Willingness to be innovative and always searching for the latest interventions to improve a client’s experience and achieve better outcomes more quickly.

How Do You Become An Occupational Therapist?

These are the 4 basic steps needed to become an occupational therapist:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree: complete the required prerequisites need for acceptance to an OT school
  2. Earn a master’s degree or entry-level doctorate degree: apply via the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) 
  3. Pass the National Board for Certification on Occupational Therapy (NBCOT): after completion of your master’s degree, pass the national board exam offered by the NBCOT
  4. Obtain licensure in your state: apply for licensure in the state(s) in which you seek to practice

At Bay Path University, We Offer 4 Occupational Therapy Programs:

  1. PRE-OT: The Pre-Occupational Therapy Studies/Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program is an intensive, 5-year program that combines a strong liberal arts foundation with professional courses in the theory and practice of occupational therapy.
  2. MOT: The Master of Occupational Therapy program is a full-time, on-campus path for students with a bachelor’s degree to join the field of occupational therapy. The program prepares students to sit for the NBCOT exam.
  3. MOT Bridge: The Master of Occupational Therapy - Bridge program is a flexible, low residency path for Occupational Therapy Assistants and Physical Therapy Assistants to become Occupational Therapists. The program prepares students to sit for the NBCOT exam.
  4. Post-Professional OTD: The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program is a flexible, 100% online program designed to help licensed Occupational Therapists remain competitive in the profession by expanding their knowledge, skills, and experience to become dynamic clinical scholars.

Why Pursue A Career In Occupational Therapy?

OT is a growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapy jobs are on the rise, with employment of occupational therapists projected to increase 12% between 2022 and 2032. This rate is much faster than the average projected growth of professions in the US. In 2022 the median salary was $93,180 per year.

In addition to the industry growth and well-paying salary, occupational therapists enjoy helping others improve their lives as they struggle with health challenges.

If you’re interested in joining this wonderful, rewarding profession, please learn more about our occupational therapy programs. We’d be happy to discuss this career path and answer any questions.