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Occupational Therapist Salary - An Outlook on Occupational Therapist Salary

overview of occupational therapy salary information job outlook for occupational therapists career training

Occupational therapists help patients improve their ability to perform daily living tasks from personal hygiene to food preparation and enter or reenter the work force. Clients include people of all ages, people recovering from accidents and illnesses, and those with physical or mental disabilities. An occupational therapist helps clients with basic motor functioning, learning to compensate for specific losses of function, and improving reasoning skills. The occupational therapist salary averages over $70,000 annually with a very positive job outlook projection.

Although most occupational therapists work a typical 40-hour week, almost one-third work part-time. Occupational therapists spend the majority of their time working one-on-one with patients. Participating in consultations with other health professionals treating the same patient is also important in devising the best treatment plan for each individual. Therapists working for school districts will additionally meet with parents and teachers to help develop educational and therapy plans.

Salary Information

Detailed occupational therapist salary information supplied by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics cites wages ranging from below $45,000 for salaries in the tenth percentile and under to over $100,000 for those in the 90th percentile and above. The median annual salary is approximately $70,000 or $33.48 per hour.

The top five industries employing occupational therapists are general medical and surgical hospitals, health practitioner offices, elementary and secondary schools, nursing care facilities, and home health care services. The top five highest paying industries are lead by schools and instruction other than public school districts, with only 30 occupational therapists employed nationwide with mean wages of over $88,000. The next four top-paying employers are home health care services, employment services, offices of physicians, and nursing care facilities. Nursing care presently employs 9,790 occupational therapists with a mean annual wage is $75,700.

The occupational therapist salary varies by region of the country, with top salaries paid in California. The mean wage is over $82,000 ,and over 5,000 therapists are employed in that state. The next four highest paying states are Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland, and Texas.

By metropolitan area, the highest salaries are found in El Paso, Texas. The annual mean salary there is over $96,000. Additional top-paying metropolitan districts are San Francisco, Laredo, Texas, Las Vegas, and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California.

Job Outlook for Occupational Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, job growth for this career is expected to rise much faster than average. Over the next decade, an increase of 26% is expected in the number of positions, with growth the most dynamic in the field of care for the elderly. This high demand is expected to continue as the population of the United States ages, as the number of people with disabilities increases, and as rehabilitation centers continue serving more patients.

An estimated 27,000 jobs will be added over the next decade with demand remaining high for occupational therapists in hospitals and outpatient rehabilitation centers. School districts will continue expanding positions to serve students with disabilities. Therapists who have an area of specialty involving the elderly, driver rehabilitation, and ergonomic consulting will especially be in demand.

Career Training

Occupational therapists are now required to hold at minimum a master’s degree. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree can come from diverse educational backgrounds but generally must have upper level biology, introductory chemistry and physics, psychology coursework, and communication classes in composition and speech. Additionally, most master’s degree programs expect students to have coursework in statistics, medical terminology, and algebra. Students who know occupational therapy will be their career choice are encouraged to take more than the basic prerequisite coursework in biology, psychology, and other sciences. Moreover, clinical observation or experience and research experience may be required before acceptance into a master’s degree program. Bachelor’s degrees in zoology, anatomy, sociology, psychology, liberal arts, and anthropology are acceptable majors.

In addition to obtaining a master’s degree in occupational therapy at an accredited college, all candidates must pass the national certifying exam. Every state has varying licensure requirements that must be met to be a practicing therapist. Many states also require continuing education to maintain licensure.

Career advancement means the occupational therapist salary will increase. Earning a doctorate degree, entering a supervisory position, or attaining a specialty in an area of high demand are just several paths a therapist can take.

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