College Advice Blog

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Jun 10, 2012

Occupational Therapy Employment Outlook


There were a few career fields that boomed despite the recession of 2008, and now that America is in recovery mode, and everything looks to be coming back, there are some jobs in particular that are not only booming, but exploding. One of these career fields is occupational therapy, which has grown so much that they are actually in need of more employees and applicants. For the occupational therapy field, there is a need for more people that are qualified and willing to work.

As the baby boomer generation (the largest segment of the United States’ population) gets older, the demand for therapists to aid them has increased exponentially.

What You’ll Need

A master’s degree is required for a career in the occupational therapy field. However, there are few school programs with and those programs have long waiting lists. Most students will need close to a 4.0 GPA in order to even be considered, and that is not a guarantee you will make it into the program of your choice.

A troubling fact is that there are not nearly enough qualified and trained people to fill jobs in the occupational therapy field. The amount of programs will have to multiply to match the need for occupational therapists. Essentially by 2020 there will be more than 33,000 additional occupational therapist positions available in the country.

The Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of occupational therapy jobs in the country will expand and increase by more than 33 percent over the next decade. As of 2010, there were about 108,000 occupational therapist positions in the country, according to the Bureau. That 33 percent increase is one of the largest increases in any and all career fields in the country.

The average salary for an occupational therapist is $35.77 an hour, which comes out to more than $70,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All in all, the employment outlook for occupational therapy looks bright. Job security will most likely not be a problem since the demand for occupational therapists will only increase as the age of the population increases.

The Drawback

The only problem with attracting more people to the field of occupational therapy has to do with the expenses associated with getting an occupational therapy degree. The degree is only available as a master’s degree, which will take longer than earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Not to mention the United States has experienced a dramatic and troubling increase in college tuition rates, which has steered many people away from attending secondary school of any sort.

In the end, many occupational therapy graduates and other master’s degree recipients leave school with more debt than they would make in an entire year of salary employed as an occupational therapist.

However, don’t be discouraged. The good news is that occupational therapists are very close to being guaranteed a job right out of college. Many, if not most, college graduates cannot say the same about their degree.

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About the Author

Tyler Cook is an occupational therapist loving every minute of it. Before you jump into occupational therapy though, he suggests looking for good programs through www.therapistschools.com.
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