What it takes to become an occupational therapists
Occupational therapists work with a wide range of people to help improve their ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). This might include things such as dressing, washing, cooking, and eating as well as workplace tasks. Often, focus is on fine motor or basic gross motor function, developing skills like dexterity, coordination, and visual acuity as well as cognitive skills.
Accredited programs at both the Master’s and Doctorate level are available. A Bachelor’s degree is required for admission. Masters programs usually require two-three years and DOT’s ~ three. At least 6 months of supervised fieldwork is required as part of the degree. Once the degree is awarded, students sit for a national board exam.
Schools will have a large number of pre-reqs in common, but each school may vary slightly in the number of terms they require, or have some program specific courses. Pacific University is the only institution offering an OT degree, and it is at the DOT level. In general, students should plan on competing anatomy & physiology, a term of physics, general, developmental and abnormal psychology, statistics, medical terminology and some humanities courses. Many OT’s have Bachelor’s degrees in Liberal Arts, Psychology or Human movement.
It is imperative that for any professional field you want to enter, you understand the work and the day to day flow of the professional. OT programs will expect candidates have been exposed to OT in a variety of settings across a range of ages. Hour minimums will vary.
Nationally, there are currently 158 OT Master’s and 15 Doctoral programs. In 2017 at the Master’s level, there were a total of 7,236 slots available and 44,934 applications. At the Doctoral level, there were 549 slots and 3,092 applications. For Pacific University’s entering class of 2017, there were 1145 applications for 50 slots, with an average cumulative GPA of 3.69 and science/math GPA of 3.58.Last 45 credit GPA 3.85 and average observation hour were between 400-600.
As of March 3, 2017, the number of program locations in the accreditation process totaled 520.
Some schools will require, others not. Pacific University does not require the GRE, but it is preferred.
The median annual wage for occupational therapists was $84,950 in May 2019.
Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb. However, demand for occupational therapy services is related to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or through health insurance.