The median national occupational therapist salary in the United States is reported to be about $78,000 per year or about $38 per hour. The lowest 10th percentile of this profession reported wages of $66,000 or less per year which is about $32 or less per hour. The highest 10th percentile of occupational therapists reported a salary of about $91,000 or more per year or about $44 or more per hour. Those who find themselves in the middle 50 percent of this profession reported salaries between $71,000 and $85,000 per year or between $35 and $41 per hour.
As is mostly the case with most other professions, how much an occupational therapist earns in the end is determined by many different factors. Factors such as type of establishment, geographical location of establishment, number of years of experience, number of hours worked and skills level can all influence how much they make.
Most employers also offer benefits to occupational therapists as part of their pay package. Some of the popular benefits given by employers include paid time off, bonuses, healthcare benefits, pension, social security and 401K. When these benefits are added their base salary, the median total remuneration of this profession can be as high as $110,000 per year.
In terms of geographical location, the median annual salary in the top five highest paying states are as follows: Nevada – $105,300; New Jersey – $86,700; California – $86,400; District of Columbia – $85,300 and Texas – $84,800.
The top five states with the most occupational therapists are California, New York, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Job description of an occupational therapist
What is an occupational therapist? They are therapists that make use of therapeutic daily activities to treat injuries, disabilities and illnesses of their patients. Their goal is to help the improvement, recovery, development and maintenance of their patient’s ability to perform simple daily tasks in their homes or offices.
Most of their patients are patients that have some form of physical, mental developmental or emotional disability. The help their patients in performing simple tasks such as use a computer, dressing themselves, cooking and walking. They engage the patient in carefully planned exercise ranging from physical to mental exercises. The exercises are personalized to meet each individual’s conditions and achieve a specific goal.
An occupational therapist will often evaluate their patient’s home or workplace and implement arrangements that are better suited to the patient’s conditions.
Those with their own private practice often work with occupational therapist assistants in performing their duties. Some hospitals may also hire assistants. Those working in hospitals usually work as part of a medical team treating a patient.
Occupational therapists have many more responsibilities. Their general goal however is to help their patients regain their ability to live and function normally.
How to become an occupational therapist
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To become one, you need to have completed an undergraduate degree and then go on to obtain a Master’s degree in occupational therapy.
The first step in becoming an occupational therapist involves getting a bachelor’s degree. Although no specific major is required, coursework in physiology and biology is a pre-requisite for getting accepted into the master’s degree program. It is therefore advisable to take a semester or two’s coursework in these subjects. Most people who apply to the master’s degree program are holders of a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees.
You should consider an internship during your undergraduate studies. Most occupational therapy programs require that students undertake a 1-year internship.
The next step when you graduate from undergraduate the undergraduate program is to apply for a Master’s degree program in occupational therapy. This is usually a 2-year program. Most people in this profession will have this degree but there are more advanced programs at the doctoral level for those who want to further their education.
There are a couple of colleges that offer a combination program (undergraduate + post-graduate) leading to the award of a Master’s degree in occupational therapy. This program usually lasts for 5 years.
The next step after completing the program is to become certified. All states require licensure for all occupational therapists. And you will need to have certification before you can obtain a license. Certification is provided by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists.
After obtaining your certification, it is time to get a license from your state. Only then are you allowed to practice as an occupational therapist.
Verdict on occupational therapist salary
The occupational therapist salary is an attractive one. And even if it wasn’t, most people working in this field do not go in for the money but for the love of helping people suffering from disabilities.