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Careers in Occupational Therapy

Options for Those Who Want Careers in Occupational Therapy

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Occupational therapist with a patient

An occupational therapist does strengthening exercises with a patient.

Design Pics / Don Hammond / Getty Images

If you want to have a career in occupational therapy, you have three options from which to choose. You can be an occupational therapist, an occupational therapist assistant or an occupational therapist aide. Each of these has different educational and licensing requirements, as well as different duties and salaries. See the chart below for a quick look at the differences between each of these career choices.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help patients, who have mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling conditions, improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They develop treatment plans for their patients. To become an occupational therapist one must first earn a master's degree or a doctorate degree from an accredited occupational therapist program and then pass a licensing exam. Median earnings for occupational therapists were $69,630 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming an Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapist Assistant

Occupational therapist assistants implement treatment plans developed by occupational therapists and make sure clients are correctly performing activities. They keep track of patients' progress for occupational therapists. To become an occupational therapist assistant one must earn an associate degree or a certificate from an accredited community college or technical school. Training also includes clinical fieldwork. Most states require that occupational therapist assistants pass a national certification examination. Occupational therapist assistants earned a median salary of $50,250 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming an Occupational Therapist Assistant

Occupational Therapist Aide

Occupational therapist aides prepare equipment and materials that occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants use during treatment. They also perform clerical duties. An occupational therapist aide receives on-the-job training after earning a high school diploma or GED. Occupational therapist aides earned a median salary of $25,730 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming an Occupational Therapist Aide

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ and
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/ (visited March 14, 2011).

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Comparing Careers in Occupational Therapy
  Education License Median Salary
Occupational Therapist Master's or Doctorate Degree Required in all states $69,630
Occupational Therapist Assistant Associate Degree or Certificate National certification in most states $50,250
Occupational Therapist Aide HS Diploma and On-the-Job Training None $25,730

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