Physical Education and Health Program

Occupational Therapist

Requirements:

  • Completion of a 4-year degree
  • Completion of a Masters Degree in an accredited Occupational Therapy program
  • Pass a national certification exam for licensure
  • Some states require addition certification for work in schools or early intervention programs.

Earnings:
Median annual earnings of occupational therapists were $54,660 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $45,690 and $67,010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,600.

Description:
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They work with individuals who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. They also help them to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. Occupational therapists help clients not only to improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Occupational therapists assist clients in performing activities of all types, ranging from using a computer to caring for daily needs such as dressing, cooking, and eating. Physical exercises may be used to increase strength and dexterity, while other activities may be chosen to improve visual acuity and the ability to discern patterns. Occupational therapists also use computer programs to help clients improve decision making, abstract-reasoning, problem-solving, and perceptual skills, as well as memory, sequencing, and coordination—all of which are important for independent living. Therapists instruct those with permanent disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy, in the use of adaptive equipment, including wheelchairs, orthotics, and aids for eating and dressing. They also design or make special equipment needed at home or at work. Therapists develop computer-aided adaptive equipment and teach clients with severe limitations how to use that equipment in order to communicate better and control various aspects of their environment. Occupational therapists may work exclusively with individuals in a particular age group or with particular disabilities.

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Info obtained from: U.S. Department of Labor

Acknowledgement
This information was collected by Iris Bahr-Winslow, Jennifer Breneman, Allen Brooks, Emily Schneider, Candy Walls, and Ebony Williams.

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