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How Do You Become an Occupational Therapist?

Being an occupational therapist can be a very rewarding career for individuals who wish to assist in rehabilitating individuals. As an occupational therapist, one helps people recover from severe injuries and overcome disabilities. One may work in a nursing home and help elderly people learn how to function after a stroke or another difficult illness. An occupational therapist may work with a child to help him or her recover from involvement in a car accident. Occupational therapists literally help people to rebuild their lives after they have been injured. Maybe you have wondered, "How do I become an occupational therapist?" When you want to become an occupational therapist, you can pursue a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy. You can also pursue a Ph.D or Master's degree in order to become an occupational therapist.

What's it like to be an occupational therapist?

When you are an occupational therapist, you normally work about 40 hours a week. Your daily tasks involve supervising patients and helping them overcome their disabilities. You may do certain exercises with patients to help them recover from an injury. You also may have to teach people how to do daily functions like eating, driving or cleaning. Your job may be to teach people how to engage in these daily functions with the use of a different part of their body. You may also have to help a patient deal with the emotional impact of recovering from an accident.

Education Requirements

To become an occupational therapist, one should pursue a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy or psychology. One can also complete a pre-med program in order to eventually become an occupational therapist. It is not unusual for people to complete pre-med programs before they obtain a Ph.D in the field. Obtaining a Ph.D is one of the best ways for a person to also achieve great success as an occupational therapist. Participating in an internship is another way to thrive and make connections to become an occupational therapist. When you are involved in an internship program, you can also learn about the different exercises that you must teach to patients. These exercises will help patients recover from their injuries. When you have participated in an internship program, future employers will be more likely to hire you.

Salary & How to Get a Job

According to the BLS, the starting salary of an occupational therapist is about $72,000 a year. One may earn a higher salary if he or she owns his or her own physical therapy center. One may also earn a higher salary if he or she works in a large city. If one works in a rural area, then he or she will earn about $40,000 to $55,000 a year. If a person wants to become an occupational therapist, then he or she should apply for open positions at clinics and physical therapy centers. Local hospitals may also have a demand for qualified individuals to serve as occupational therapists in helping people recover from injuries.


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