Occupational Therapy as a Career

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across their lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • Individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals
  • Customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals
  • Outcomes evaluation ensuring the goals are being met and/or to make changes to the intervention plan

Occupational therapy services may include evaluations of the client’s home and other environments, recommendations and training in adaptive equipment, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers.

Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective. The focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person. The person is an integral part of the therapy team. (Source: AOTA, 2014)

What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

Occupational therapy practitioners use their knowledge of the relationship a client has with his or her daily activities, and the environment in which they perform those activities to design intervention plans needed for successful living.

Occupational therapists must take into consideration factors such as a client’s body functions and spirituality, as well as a client’s skills such as social interaction. Then they adapt and modify the client’s environment or objects to promote engagement in their activities.

Occupational therapy services are provided for habilitation, rehabilitation, and promotion of health and wellness for clients with disabilities and non-disability-related needs. (Source: Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process—Fourth Edition. Am J Occup Ther August 2020, Vol. 74) (Supplement_2), 7412410010p1–7412410010p87. doi:

Your Job Outlook

Take a look at these numbers Occupational Therapy (OT) numbers:

  • U.S. News & World Report ranks the field of OT as #9 out of 34 for the best health care jobs.
  • Time Magazine reports that the field of OT ranks in the top five of the most in-demand jobs.

Why consider the OT Doctorate?

At this time, the course load for most Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) programs exceeds the U.S. Department of Education’s requirement for master’s level education. Actually, the current MOT programs course loads are more in line with an entry-level doctorate degree. Further, trends in today’s health care are leading specialized clinical practice areas to move to entry-level doctoral degrees. While a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy is not the current mandate for entry-level practice, it is fast becoming an expected change as the profession positions itself to best meet the occupational needs of society.


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