What Does An Occupational Therapist Do?

An occupational therapist specializes in treating patients who are recovering from illnesses or disabilities to help them adapt and overcome the physical and mental difficulties they face in their daily lives. The responsibilities of an occupational therapist revolve around examining a patient's medical history and conducting different kinds of assessments to determine what type of treatment a patient should receive. Furthermore, an occupational therapist must build rapport with a patient to make them feel at ease and coordinate with their guardian or family to discuss the recommended ways to help the patient adjust and recuperate.

Here are the duties and responsibilities that occupational therapists across different industries are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage a high-volume caseload as well as provide supervision to COTA/L's.
  • Carry out patient treatment plans per the written plan of care by OTR/L.
  • Recommend and order DME to ensure a safe discharge home or a LTC facility.
  • Treat patients in a variety of settings educating compensatory techniques in ADL's and IADL's.
  • Research and develop evidence-based intervention techniques such as therapeutic activities, ADL retraining, cognitive skill development, and functional rehabilitation.
  • Demonstrate accountability and contribution to program development, quality improvement, problem solving and productivity enhancement in a flexible interdisciplinary fashion.
  • Present training for regions OT and SLP staff.
  • Work primarily with NICU graduates and medically fragile clients
  • Develop exercise routines for dexterity, flexibility, balance, and strength.
  • Develop and implements several positioning devices for the babies in the NICU.
Occupational Therapist Traits
Dexterity describes being skilled in using your hands when it comes to physical activity.
Physical stamina
Physical stamina shows that you are able to exert your energy for long periods of time without tiring.
Compassion is a skill that is necessary for working with others as you're able to put aside your differences and show genuine kindness toward others.

Occupational Therapist Overview

Compared to other jobs, occupational therapists have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 18% between the years of 2018 - 2028 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of occupational therapist opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 23,700.

On average, occupational therapists earn $76,202 per year, which translates to $36.64 an hour. Generally speaking, occupational therapists earn anywhere from $60,000 to $95,000 a year, which means that the top-earning occupational therapists make a whopping $35,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

Let's say you're currently a occupational therapist, but maybe you're looking for a new opportunity. You may even be playing around with the idea of becoming an occupational therapist. If that's the case, you'll probably want to know how these roles compare to other positions. Luckily, you came to the right place. Here, you'll find extensive information on roles such as a rehabilitation technician, music therapy internship, student physical therapist, and therapist just so you can compare job roles and responsibilities. We'll explain how these different roles compare to the job description for an occupational therapist in a bit.

Occupational Therapist Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 14% of Occupational Therapists are proficient in Treatment Plans, Patient Care, and Facility. They’re also known for soft skills such as Dexterity, Physical stamina, and Compassion.

We break down the percentage of Occupational Therapists that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Treatment Plans, 14%

    Completed assessments, treatment plans, and therapeutic interventions while developing multiple exercise programs and completing daily paperwork from multiple facilities.

  • Patient Care, 14%

    Delivered occupational therapy services on a 25 bed inpatient unit and outpatient care programs for adult and adolescent psychiatric patients.

  • Facility, 11%

    Assisted the facility rehabilitation coordinator with delegated responsibilities

  • Occupational Therapy Assistants, 9%

    Supervised occupational therapy assistants in therapeutic intervention.

  • Cota, 8%

    Managed rehabilitation therapy team which consisted of Physical therapist/assistant, Speech therapist and COTA.

  • Independent Living, 5%

    Provided occupational therapy services in a sensory clinical setting to pediatric clients with various diagnoses to improve academic functioning and independent living

Treatment plans, patient care, and facility aren't the only skills occupational therapists have. In fact, there's a whole list of personality traits that are commonly seen among them, including:

  • Occupational therapists are also known for compassion, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. Occupational therapists are usually drawn to the profession by a desire to help people and improve their daily lives An example of how this skill is put to the test is, "earned repeated commendations from supervisor and patients for providing high-quality, compassionate care."
  • It goes without saying that an occupational therapist must have communication skills. That's like saying a painter must have paint. Occupational therapists must listen attentively to what patients tell them and must explain what they want their patients to do These communication skills are utilized daily by occupational therapists. Don't believe us? Check out this resume example: "coordinated with multidisciplinary team utilizing appropriate communication skills regarding patient care and progress."
  • Interpersonal skills. Because occupational therapists spend their time teaching and explaining therapies to patients, they need to earn the trust and respect of those patients and their families. This is demonstrated in the following example: "led 45-minute group therapy sessions focusing on improving stress coping skills and interpersonal skills for 10 women in drug and alcohol rehabilitation"
  • See the full list of occupational therapist skills.

    Over half of occupational therapists have graduated with a bachelor's degree. In fact, it seems 32.7% of people who became an occupational therapist earned a bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree roughly 58.4% in this career have them. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it seems it may be impossible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most occupational therapists have a college degree. But about one out of every nine occupational therapists didn't attend college at all.

    The occupational therapists who went onto college to earn a more in-depth education generally studied occupational therapy and psychology, while a small population of occupational therapists studied rehabilitation science and kinesiology.

    Once you've graduated with your degree, you're ready to tackle the world as an occupational therapist. But where to start? Generally, occupational therapists are hired the most by Healthpro, Genesis HealthCare, and Select Medical. Currently, Healthpro has 483 occupational therapist job openings, while there are 244 at Genesis HealthCare and 242 at Select Medical.

    But if you want to earn the most bang for your buck, occupational therapists tend to earn the biggest salaries at The Orchard Post Acute Care, Marshfield Clinic, and Mayo Clinic. Take The Orchard Post Acute Care for example. The median occupational therapist salary is $107,030. At Marshfield Clinic, occupational therapists earn an average of $101,816, while the average at Mayo Clinic is $98,332. Now before you get too googly-eyed over those digits, take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies. While The Orchard Post Acute Care has 0 job listings for occupational therapists, Marshfield Clinic and Mayo Clinic only have 6 and 6 job listings respectively.

    View more details on occupational therapist salaries across the United States.

    The most prestigious occupational therapists can be found working at RehabCare Group East, Aegis, and Encompass Health. We determine this by assessing the schools where occupational therapists have earned their degrees, and then looking at the companies that have hired a significant number of occupational therapists from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious occupational therapists are:

      What Rehabilitation Technicians Do

      A rehabilitation technician is responsible for assisting therapists and other medical personnel on supporting the patients in their daily activities and physical therapy sessions. Rehabilitation technicians provide high-quality care services for the patients by administering medications, accompanying them on medical appointments, and ensuring the cleanliness and orderliness of all equipment and facilities to prevent hazards within the premises. They may also perform administrative and clerical duties such as updating patients' information on the database, writing reports, processing payments for medical procedures, and maintaining medical charts for reference.

      Let's see how rehabilitation technician compares. We'll first look at the salary differences. On average, rehabilitation technicians are paid $49,328 lower than occupational therapists per year.

      Even though occupational therapists and rehabilitation technicians have vast differences in their careers, the skills required to do both jobs are similar. Just as an example, both careers require treatment plans, patient care, and occupational therapy assistants in the day-to-day roles.

      As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because an occupational therapist also must be experienced in skills such as facility, cota, adaptive equipment, and otr. Whereas a rehabilitation technician is skilled in cpr, rehabilitation services, treatment areas, and customer service. So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

      Rehabilitation technicians receive the highest salaries in the health care industry coming in with an average yearly salary of $27,038. But occupational therapists are paid more in the health care industry with an average salary of $74,122. The differences don't stop there. Next stop, education.

      The education of rehabilitation technicians is a bit different than the education of occupational therapists in that they tend to reach lower levels of education. Rehabilitation technicians are 47.0% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than an occupational therapist. Additionally, they're 1.2% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Music Therapy Internship?

      In a music therapy internship, an intern's duties primarily depend on the directives of a manager or supervising staff. Typically, they are responsible for gaining industry insights and practical experience while performing support tasks such as answering calls and correspondence, preparing and processing documents, conducting research and analysis, setting-up instruments and other devices, and running errands as needed. They may also assist and work with clients under the supervision of a therapist. Moreover, they must understand and adhere to the facility's policies and regulations, including its vision and mission.

      Next up to compare are music therapy interns, which typically earn a lower pay of roughly $30,353 lower than occupational therapists per year.

      A similarity between the two careers of occupational therapists and music therapy interns are the skills associated with both roles. The similar skills include treatment plans, patient care, and occupational therapy assistants.

      While some skills are similar, others aren't. For example, a occupational therapist requires skills like facility, cota, otr, and snf. But your average music therapy internship will need skills, such as, mental health, music therapy services, therapy intern, and substance abuse. This is where the differences really kick in.

      When it comes to education, music therapy interns tend to reach lower levels of education than occupational therapists. In fact, they're 15.2% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 1.2% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Student Physical Therapist Compares

      A student physical therapist assists physicians in handling patients in a medical facility or a similar setting. As students, they typically follow directives and work under the supervision of a physical therapist. Besides assisting in treating patients, a student may also perform various clerical tasks such as filing paperwork, producing reports, running errands, managing schedules, responding to inquiries, and answering calls and correspondence. They may also coordinate with other hospital personnel and attend meetings, all while adhering to the medical facility's policies and standards.

      Let's now take a look at how student physical therapists compare. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower dough than occupational therapists with a lower pay of $348 per year.

      Occupational therapists and student physical therapists both have similar skills such as treatment plans, patient care, and facility, but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

      Some important key differences between the two careers are the other skills necessary to get the job done. For example, an occupational therapist is likely to be skilled in cota, independent living, adaptive equipment, and otr, whereas a student physical therapist is skilled in manual therapy techniques, gait training, in-service presentation, and acl.

      For educational purposes, student physical therapists are known for reaching lower levels when compared to occupational therapists. In fact, they're 53.4% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 61.8% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Therapist

      A therapist is responsible for improving the patients' health conditions by evaluating their needs and providing physical and mental support. Therapists are licensed, medical professionals who specialize in different areas to perform treatments and bring relief to patients. Some of their duties include diagnosing patient's problems, performing counseling services, monitoring medication progress, customizing therapy activities for pain management, and consulting other health professionals as needed. Therapists must have extensive knowledge with the medical industry to detect patients' conditions easily and provide effective medications.

      Last, but not least, are the therapists who typically earn lower pay than occupational therapists, with a difference of $23,622 per year.

      Both professions of occupational therapists and therapists use skills such as treatment plans, patient care, and physical therapy within their day-to-day roles.

      Even though their skill sets overlap, there are some key differences that are important to note. For one, an occupational therapist tends to have more use for skills like facility, occupational therapy assistants, cota, and independent living. Meanwhile, a typical therapist makes use out of skills like crisis intervention, mental health, trauma, and communication. The difference in skills between the two professions really shows how different the two are.

      Therapists tend to earn a higher salary in the finance industry with an average of $51,157.

      On the topic of education, the two careers have some notable differences. Therapists reach higher levels of education than occupational therapists with the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree being 10.0% more. Plus, they're 2.4% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.