If you want to pursue an occupational therapist career, you need to obtain a degree. This article will help you choose a degree that is relevant to your job expectations and will briefly introduce you to career opportunities after graduation.

If you want to pursue an occupational therapist career, you need to obtain a degree. The career cluster of this specialization includes different potential niches and sub-specializations, so you need to have a clear final career objective to choose a relevant educational path.

Most educational programs include classroom, clinical and fieldwork experiences. To secure a good job, you’ll need letters of recommendation from occupational therapists or science teachers. That’s why it’s important to choose a well-established school that will help you expand professional contacts.

Mind it that the entry requirements for the same specialization might differ significantly from one school to another. You need to get to know these requirements in advance to prepare accordingly.

These are the degree options that you might consider becoming an occupational therapist.

The Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree from an accredited school is necessary to become a licensed occupational therapist. You can choose to become a generalist or to specialize in a certain narrow sphere (for example, help adults recover from severe injuries or work with disabled children). For generalists, it’s easier to find a job, but salaries might be higher for narrow specialists, depending on your employer.

The Bachelor’s Degree

With this degree you’ll be able to work as an occupational therapy assistant. You won’t be allowed to work on your own, but the assistant position will help you make the first steps in the profession and learn from your mentor. You should consider this option if your aim is to start making money as soon as possible and if you have no ambitions of doing research or developing cutting edge techniques in your field.

Doctorate

You should become a doctor if you are interested first of all in research or management in the field of occupational therapy. You’ll be able to choose a specialization not offered at other levels of education and become a sought-after expert with vast career choices.

Career prospects

After graduation you’ll be able to work as an occupational therapist at a school or hospital, to provide customized treatment programs to your clients, to do research or to hold managerial positions, depending on your degree. You can be self-employed in private practice or be employed in a behavioral health clinic, rehabilitation center, long-term care facility or other similar institution.

The traditional approach to occupational therapy supposes that you’ll be working with your clients face to face. Your daily work responsibilities will include improving their motor coordination, sensory processing, social participation, attention, and executive functioning skills. You’ll be using arts, crafts, tabletop games, obstacle courses and other tools to improve the conditions of your patients. If you are interested in the more advanced aspects of your profession, you might try consulting, coaching or telehealth. Your work will require a lot of communication since you’ll need to stay in touch with the parents or caregivers of your clients constantly.

The demand for occupational therapists is steadily growing, and this profession is considered as one of the top careers in healthcare today.