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.

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Occupational Therapist Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real occupational therapist resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Achieve advance clinical competency in UE splinting.
  • Manage outpatient occupational therapy rehabilitation program.
  • Provide home assessment and recommend adaptive equipment and/or home modification needs to maximize safety of patients in their own environment.
  • General debility, CVA, joint replacement, upper extremity weakness, ADL 's
  • Founder of TLC program to educate patients, staff and family about CVA.
  • Complete evaluations and IEP's for home school children and perform on-going therapy for the kids.
  • Demonstrate competency in providing quality care to patients according to their individualize needs with compassion.
  • Fabricate static and dynamic splints and develop home exercise programs for patients with upper extremity disorders.
  • Demonstrate compassion and empathy with both patients and their families while demonstrating fiscal responsibility for the company.
  • Educate patient and caregivers/families in safety awareness; including back protection, use of adaptive equipment, and energy conservation.
  • Provide occupational therapy treatment including ADL strengthening, family and patient education, and equipment ordering in conjunction with team members.
  • Treat some kids in separate clinic setting.
  • Work primarily with NICU graduates and medically fragile clients
  • Develop and implements several positioning devices for the babies in the NICU.
  • Carry out patient treatment plans per the written plan of care by OTR/L.

Occupational Therapist Job Description

When it comes to understanding what an occupational therapist does, you may be wondering, "should I become an occupational therapist?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, occupational therapists have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 18% between the years 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.

An occupational therapist annual salary averages $75,707, which breaks down to $36.4 an hour. However, occupational therapists can earn anywhere from upwards of $58,000 to $97,000 a year. This means that the top-earning occupational therapists make $33,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become an occupational therapist. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a rehabilitation technician, music therapy internship, student physical therapist, and therapist.

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Occupational Therapist Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 23% of Occupational Therapists are proficient in Patients, Rehabilitation, and Home Health. They’re also known for soft skills such as Communication skills, Patience, and Compassion.

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

  • Patients, 23%

    Performed numerous evaluations and interventions, and successfully established collaborative goals and treatment plans with patients and the interdisciplinary team.

  • Rehabilitation, 12%

    Assisted the facility rehabilitation coordinator with delegated responsibilities

  • Home Health, 12%

    Treated patients as an occupational therapist in acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, outpatient, and home health settings

  • Patient Care, 9%

    Participate in performance improvement activities designed to identify and resolve problems affecting patient care outcome and to improve quality of care.

  • COTA, 7%

    Provide therapeutic services, supervise COTA Responsible for all power mobility evaluations Responsible for facility restraint reduction Responsible for all wheelchair positioning

  • Occupational Therapy, 4%

    Acted as senior level liaison between program director and occupational therapy staff to ensure clients were receiving appropriate occupational therapy interventions.

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"patients," "rehabilitation," and "home health" aren't the only skills we found occupational therapists list on their resumes. In fact, there's a whole list of occupational therapist responsibilities that we found, including:

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for an occupational therapist to have happens to be communication skills. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "occupational therapists must listen attentively to what patients tell them and must explain what they want their patients to do" Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that occupational therapists can use communication skills to "completed discharge evaluation including home visits and communication with home health or hospice services. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling occupational therapist duties is patience. According to a occupational therapist resume, "dealing with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities is frustrating for many people." Here's an example of how occupational therapists are able to utilize patience: "demonstrated compassion, patience, and understanding in addressing tx needs of the clients. "
  • Occupational therapists are also known for compassion, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. An example of why this skill is important is shown by this snippet that we found in a occupational therapist resume: "occupational therapists are usually drawn to the profession by a desire to help people and improve their daily lives" We also found this resume example that details how this skill is put to the test: "demonstrated compassion and empathy with both patients and their families while demonstrating fiscal responsibility for the company. "
  • An occupational therapist responsibilities sometimes require "interpersonal skills." The responsibilities that rely on this skills are shown by this resume excerpt: "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 resume example shows how this skill is used by occupational therapists: "increased outpatient/hand therapy clienteleskills used-strong interpersonal skills with both patient and families. "
  • See the full list of occupational therapist skills.

    Before becoming an occupational therapist, 55.3% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 37.5% occupational therapists went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, 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.

    Those occupational therapists who do attend college, typically earn either a occupational therapy degree or a psychology degree. Less commonly earned degrees for occupational therapists include a health sciences and services degree or a kinesiology degree.

    Once you're ready to become an occupational therapist, you should explore the companies that typically hire occupational therapists. According to occupational therapist resumes that we searched through, occupational therapists are hired the most by HealthPRO, Reliant Rehabilitation, and Genesis HealthCare. Currently, HealthPRO has 807 occupational therapist job openings, while there are 516 at Reliant Rehabilitation and 405 at Genesis HealthCare.

    But if you're interested in companies where you might earn a high salary, occupational therapists tend to earn the biggest salaries at Waters, Mayo Clinic, and Parkway. Take Waters for example. The median occupational therapist salary is $95,375. At Mayo Clinic, occupational therapists earn an average of $92,293, while the average at Parkway is $91,707. You should take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies.

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

    If you earned a degree from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States, you might want to take a look at Aegis Therapies, RehabCare Group East Inc, and Amedisys. These three companies have hired a significant number of occupational therapists from these institutions.

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

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    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.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take rehabilitation technician for example. On average, the rehabilitation technicians annual salary is $46,174 lower than what occupational therapists make on average every year.

    Even though occupational therapists and rehabilitation technicians have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require patients, rehabilitation, and occupational therapy in the day-to-day roles.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because an occupational therapist responsibility requires skills such as "home health," "patient care," "cota," and "adaptive." Whereas a rehabilitation technician is skilled in "cpr," "customer service," "rehabilitation services," and "direct supervision." 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 $30,968. But occupational therapists are paid more in the professional industry with an average salary of $77,905.

    The education levels that rehabilitation technicians earn is a bit different than that of occupational therapists. In particular, rehabilitation technicians are 31.4% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than an occupational therapist. Additionally, they're 0.2% 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.

    The next role we're going to look at is the music therapy internship profession. Typically, this position earns a lower pay. In fact, they earn a $38,863 lower salary than occupational therapists per year.

    A similarity between the two careers of occupational therapists and music therapy interns are a few of the skills associated with both roles. We used resumes from both professions to find that both use skills like "patients," "patient care," and "occupational therapy. "

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that occupational therapist responsibilities requires skills like "rehabilitation," "home health," "cota," and "adaptive." But a music therapy internship might use skills, such as, "mental health," "individual therapy sessions," "group therapy sessions," and "substance abuse."

    When it comes to the differences in education between the two professions, music therapy interns tend to reach lower levels of education than occupational therapists. In fact, they're 20.5% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% less 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 the student physical therapist profession. On average, these workers make lower salaries than occupational therapists with a $2,704 difference per year.

    While looking through the resumes of several occupational therapists and student physical therapists we discovered that both professions have similar skills. These similarities include skills such as "patients," "rehabilitation," and "patient care," but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

    Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from occupational therapist resumes include skills like "home health," "cota," "otr," and "occupational therapy assistants," whereas a student physical therapist might be skilled in "physical therapy assistants," "orthopedic diagnoses," "gait training," and "patient education. "

    Student physical therapists are known to earn lower educational levels when compared to occupational therapists. Additionally, they're 34.2% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 9.0% 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.

    The fourth career we look at typically earns lower pay than occupational therapists. On average, therapists earn a difference of $19,764 lower per year.

    According to resumes from both occupational therapists and therapists, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "patients," "rehabilitation," and "patient care. "

    Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, an occupational therapist might have more use for skills like "home health," "cota," "occupational therapy," and "adaptive." Meanwhile, some therapists might include skills like "group therapy sessions," "crisis intervention," "mental health," and "community resources" on their resume.

    Therapists earn a higher salary in the government industry with an average of $55,972. Whereas, occupational therapists earn the highest salary in the professional industry.

    In general, therapists reach similar levels of education when compared to occupational therapists resumes. Therapists are 4.6% more likely to earn their Master's Degree and 0.9% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What an Occupational Therapist Does FAQs

    How Many Hours Do Occupational Therapists Work?

    Occupational therapists have different kinds of hours and shifts depending on the environment they are employed in. Most occupational therapists work full-time hours, with weeks in the traditional 40-hour range. However, there are some occupational therapists that can work more or fewer hours than this, depending on if they are part-time or other factors.

    Is Occupational Therapy A Dying Field?

    No, occupational therapy is not a dying field. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow 17 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average (about eight percent) for all occupations.

    What Qualifications Do You Need To Be An Occupational Therapist?

    The minimum qualifications to be an occupational therapist are completing Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE(r))-accredited educational program and passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.

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