Occupational Therapist Salary

Occupational therapist salary

The average annual salary for an occupational therapist is $76,400 but what you will make depends on how many years of experience you have, the geographical location where you work, your working environment, and if you have specialized in any field of occupational therapy. The lowest 10% make an average annual salary of less than $50.500 and the highest 10% makes an average annual salary of $107,070.

In addition there is the benefit package that goes along with the job that can include paid vacation and sick days, paid holidays, life insurance, health insurance that may cover the family, vision and dental care, 401K, pension, social security, profit sharing, etc. Depending on where you are working there may be other benefits. Some places where an occupational therapist works may even offer education reimbursement if they want to continue their education to receive a higher degree or to ensure that they are able to keep their certification.

An occupational therapists average annual salary based on years of experience are:

  • $44,153-$70,806 with less than 1 year of work experience
  • $41,338-$76,350 with 1-4 years of experience
  • $36,560-$73,831 with 5-9 years of experience
  • $43,229-$89,411 with 10-19 years of experience
  • $46,996-$98,657 with 20 or more years of experience

The top paying cities with an average annual salary include:

  • $21,000-$80,000 in New York, New York
  • $55,955-$78,511 in Houston, Texas
  • $56,000-$75,000 in Los Angeles, California
  • $39,641-$66,910 in Chicago, Illinois
  • $51,227-$60,497 in Spokane, Washington
  • $41,116-$58,958 in St. Louis, Missouri

Salary of an Occupational Therapist in 2015

For the year 2015, the salary of one of these professionals will vary according to several important factors. The factors are such as the type of employment, the location and the area in which you are working, and your age will definitely make a difference.

You’ll find that the years of experience in this job count a lot as well as the qualification and the work setting. The average yearly salary in United States for an occupational therapist can reach about $46,997 per year.

If this professional already possesses some good years of experience this will be for his benefit since the salary will range from $75,268 and go up to $98,658 per year. The more the years of experience are gathered in this field, the better, your reputation will increase on a constant base and your income as well.

The states in which you are working have a word to say. Some of the best paying states can be found in California, Texas, Florida, Idaho and a few others. People that practice this profession have to be much opened and have the communicational skill very developed to be able to understand the problem and the difficulty of a patient.

Occupational Therapist Salary in 2016

In the United States, the income of an occupational therapist for the year 2016 is estimated to have a median average of around $63,315 per year, according to PayScale. The main factor affecting the earnings for this specialists is the specific type of employer followed by the years of experience in the field, geographical location and other as well.

The starting point in earnings is $48,318 per year and up to $81,898 per year with granted bonuses that tend to reach at $3,010. The profit sharing for these professionals usually reaches at $905, this leading in the end to a total payment that is situated between $51,081 and $92,746.

For this particular group, a lot of experience in the working field will not actually bring more paychecks. The income of an entry-level occupational therapist with less than five years in the field is estimated to be around $65,010 per year while those that already have 5 and up to 10 years can expect to gain an average median income of $74,010 per year.

An experienced occupational therapist with 10 and up to 20 years of work experience can expect to earn around $79,005 per year while a veteran with more than 20 years of work activity will take home around $84,010 per year.

Those who already have a license can expect to make incomes ranging from $41,218 and $80,177 while those specialists that have a qualification of OTR else known as occupational therapist registered can expect to make earnings that are comprised between $44,767 and $76,533.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries that pay higher incomes for occupational therapists are home health care services, where the earnings of these specialists reach up at an average estimated at $86,852 per year. Another industry with top paying salaries is the nursing care facility where these professionals can expect to earn around $83,182 per year.

Occupational therapists who found work in surgical hospitals can expect to take home incomes that reach up to $75,512 per year while those working at specialty hospitals can expect to earn a yearly income of $77,791 per year.

Depending on the geographical location the salaries of occupational therapists vary greatly. For instance, those located in New York take home around earnings ranging between $40,010 and up to $80,010, while those located in California can expect to receive earnings comprised between $50,336 and $95,915.

Occupational therapist salary in Canada, Australia and United Kingdom

  • Australia—on average the annual salary is AU$40,734-AU$70,286 with an average yearly bonus of AU$5,039
  • Canada—on average the annual salary is C$38,438-C$76,959 with an average yearly bonus of C$5,624.
  • UK—the salary of an occupation therapist in the UK is based on their age. The average annual salary if they are in their 20’s is 21,520, in their 30’s is 28,120, and in their 40’s and 50’s is 33,284.

Occupational Therapist Career

What is an occupational therapist?

occupational therapy careerThis is a medical professional who tries to help clients to discover and achieve a balance between leisure, self care, and work in order to have a satisfying level of competency and independence in all 3 levels of life. When the occupational therapist examines the components of the client’s lifestyle they refer to each of these components as an occupation. Then they will conduct an intervention to try to assist the client in developing and making changes that will help to improve the condition of each of the occupations. Basically an occupational therapist will help people to get more out of life by equipping them with important skills and mindsets to make it possible to enhance the great experience of living. Working as an occupational therapist you may work with individuals one-on-one or in group oriented programs.

Job description of an occupational therapist

It is the job of the occupational therapist to try and identify potential habits in each of these occupations that could result in compromising the health of the client or could have a real potential of leading to a permanent disability or injury to the client. Yes, all areas of life do have some degree of risk but the job of the occupational therapist is to help the client to see what those risks are more clearly and then move toward the behavior patterns that will help to minimize the risks.

The different ways that an occupational therapist can help to assist a client is by:

  • Recommending exercises that are designed to help overcome attention deficit issues develop an increased capacity for retaining and assimilating information, and increasing motor function.
  • Helping them develop interpersonal skills that can help to improve the ability of the client to function at work to be in harmony with their coworkers and function better in social situations.
  • Helping the patients to be able to perform tasks effortlessly by focusing on their individual needs. An occupational therapist will find a way to circumvent their patient’s disability and help them to overcome it by training them to do a variety of tasks to help them become more independent. They will help the patient to perform daily tasks whether it is at their work place or at home.
  • Helping them to perform tasks like operating a computer, dressing, or cooking.
  • Providing them with physical exercises that help them to increase their endurance and strength.
  • Observing an assessing the progress your patients are making so you can prepare a detailed report about the progress they are making.
  • Watching the patient as they carry out the task that you have given them to do and praising them when they accomplish it or even tries to do it. It is important to the patient to have positive reinforcement on anything they do toward the goal they have to keep them trying to reach it.

Many of the patients that an occupational therapist deals with are physically, emotionally, mentally or developmentally disabled. It is a challenging job because as an occupational therapist you are the only support for your patients. Your goal is to let your patients acquire the sense of satisfaction and independence with their lives. As an occupational therapist you will be working one-on-one with their patients providing them with physical and mental support. Because an occupational therapist needs to give the much needed support to their patients the occupational therapist needs to be mentally, physically, and emotionally fit.

How to become an occupational therapist?

To become an occupational therapist the minimum educational requirement is typically a master’s degree. The master’s degree must be from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. The reason is that in order to sit for the certifying exam you must graduate from an accredited program. In the past to become an occupational therapist you only needed to have a bachelor’s degree but now any new student entering an occupational therapist program is required to have a master’s degree.

Because some graduate programs, like a master’s degree program, require prerequisite coursework in anatomy and physiology, and psychology you may want to consider earning a bachelor’s degree first in a major that covers these subjects. After getting your bachelor’s degree you should consider gaining work experience by working with a practicing occupational therapist. The reason is that there are some master’s degree programs that require you to have work experience before you can gain admission to the master’s degree program.

After enrolling in a master’s degree program you will start with foundational coursework in the principles of occupational therapy. The coursework that you would take focuses on therapeutic research and concepts and clinical decision-making. You may be offered coursework in concentration areas like rehabilitation or children. To graduate from a master’s degree program you will need a minimum of 24 weeks of clinical fieldwork. It is also required for you to be able to take the professional certifying exam. Assignments in clinical fieldwork are based on the student’s career interests as much as possible. Some programs will even let the student be active in the clinical fieldwork selection process. During the clinical fieldwork students can gain experience treating patients with different disabilities and they may be evaluated afterwards by a licensed occupational therapist.

They must also be licensed by the state where they are going to be practicing. To get your license you must pass the National Certification Examination that is given by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy. Passing this exam you will have the credentials of Occupational Therapists Registered. If you are working in an early intervention or school program there are some states that require an occupational therapist to have specialized training or obtain additional certification.

After becoming an occupational therapist you will eligible to enroll in post-graduate certificate programs that deal in a specialty area of occupational therapy. These programs will explore advanced topics in specialty areas like gerontology, hand and upper extremity rehabilitation, and pain management or general professional study.

If you want to do research or teach at the university level may consider further education may consider enrolling in a program to get their Doctor of Occupational Therapy or Doctor of Philosophy degree. This program is similar to the master’s level programs and may include experience requirements like research or internships. Depending on the program they are enrolled in the student may have comprehensive exams and teaching requirements.

Work environment and schedule

The occupational therapist may work in a number of settings such as a hospital who employs occupational therapist to help patients who must learn to cope with a loss of the ability to hear or see or with a change in health. Home health care and nursing homes may also use an occupational therapist to help patients adjust to changes in an occupation while in the comfort of the patient’s living space. You may also find employment in corporations or schools providing access to essential life skills and support to employees of the corporation and students.

Being an occupational therapist you will work in rooms that are relatively spacious. In the room there are different tools and machines that help to aid in the patient’s treatment. Depending on the type of patient they are working with there may be books to help them learn to read, soft balls that the patient can put in their hands to squeeze to help in regaining strength in their hands.

Most occupational therapists will spend a lot of time on their feet helping their patients in their recovery so you need to make sure that you can do this. You need to make sure that you wear comfortable shoes and clothing that is not too tight so you will be able to move around freely. There is also some risk of straining your back as you may have to help lift or hold up a patient as they try to learn how to walk again, and moving the equipment they need to use.

Generally an occupational therapist will work the standard 40 hour week working Monday through Friday but exactly what hours they work will depend on the specialty they have chosen to work in. Working in a hospital or other community and health care facilities an occupational therapist may find themselves working evening hours and weekends. If you are working in private practices the occupational therapist will usually dictate their own schedule which means they can work longer hours if they want, can work evenings if necessary, and even weekends. Most occupational therapists work a full time schedule but approximately one fourth only work part time.

Pros and cons of being an Occupational Therapist

Choosing the right position or a good career depends mainly on what you are good at and what do you like to do. Before stepping into a job, you should carefully check all the expectations that can be found and inform yourself about the daily duties and tasks.

As an occupational therapist, you’ll daily duties start with conceiving therapy plans and evaluating your patient’s conditions. Many of them confront serious health problems and have to deal with pain on a daily basis. You’ll find patients that are injured, or have disabilities or even illnesses.

The rewarding that can be found in a position like this is the fact that you can bring a change and make a difference in the lives of many people. This career will bring you the benefit of a good salary and the high growth rate is very successful.

The drawback is the education that you must achieve in order to be able to work in this position. To get this job, you’ll need some advance courses and usually a master’s degree not to mention that you’ll have to fulfill all the state licensure requirements.

You’ll have plenty of job satisfaction but depending on the location in which you are working you’ll have to embark on a journey that assumes odd hours of work. The working hours are adjusted to make sure that every of your patients is well accommodated. The hours of work may vary, but you’ll have to be present on weekends or do some night shifts.

The career as an occupational therapist can be very demanding especially since you’ll have to do a lot of liftings, and you’ll stand on your feet some exhausting and excessive periods of time. All in all, this is a good career perspective especially if you like to work with people and help their lives get better.

Occupational Therapist job growth

The employment job growth of occupational therapists is projected at 23% or even higher. That is faster than the average for all occupations. This is essentially due to the nature of the job itself since occupational therapists play an important part in treating people with various diseases and illnesses, such as autism, cerebral palsy or other disabilities as well.

Another reason for the growth in this job is the increased number among the elderly population driving to a high demand for occupational therapy services. The future job opportunities should be good for licensed occupational therapists in all working settings, particularly in orthopedic, rehabilitation and acute hospital facilities due to the elderly population that is receiving treatment in these institutions. The job satisfaction among these professionals is highly quoted especially when you get to be the one offering aid for an improved healthy lifestyle.

Conclusion on occupational therapist salary

Although federal legislation is set to impose limits on reimbursement for occupational therapy the job outlook is looks very promising. The reason is that many healthcare facilities are hiring licensed occupational therapists to help patients who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, and other medical conditions that are associated with aging. Overall, the job prospects for occupational therapists are expected to grow by 33% from 2010-2020 with New York and California offering the best employment prospects with Texas in third place. The average annual salary for an occupational therapist is $50,000-$107.070 but what it will actually be depends on how many years you plan to stay in this medical field and if you further your education. If you enjoy working with people with a variety of disabilities and helping them to achieve a much independence that they can then being an occupational therapist would be the ideal career choice. You also will have an excellent benefit package that will add value to the average annual salary.

When you are looking at the different industries that employ occupational therapist according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the best place to seek employment is with home health care services where an occupational therapist can earn an average annual salary of $86,859 with several years of experience. The second choice should be working in skilled nursing facilities where you can earn an average yearly salary with several years of experience of $83,180.

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  • First Published Date: 8 December, 2014
  • Last Updated Date: 9 September, 2016