Occupational Therapy Schools Colleges & Universities

Occupational therapists help patients who require assistance in performing tasks in the home or workplace due to disabling conditions. Empowering patients to lead independent and productive lives is both challenging and rewarding. Research occupational therapy schools to find out if this is the career path for you.

Empowering Patients - Making Degrees from Occupational Therapy Colleges Pay Off: Occupational Therapists: Key Personal Attributes: If you want to be an effective occupational therapist, you should be both empathetic and innovative; helping patients with debilitating conditions requires both sensitivity and creativity. Excellent problem-solving and communication skills are a must. You should enjoy working with patients, but being able to work without supervision is important. Above all, you should possess a strong commitment to patient care.

Occupational Therapy Colleges: Admission Requirements: A master's degree in occupational therapy is typically the minimum required amount of education to become an occupational therapist, and bachelor's degrees in disciplines such as biology, psychology, anthropology, or the liberal arts are relevant choices for undergraduates interested in pursuing the master's or doctoral degrees. Admissions committees look favorably on volunteer experience in the healthcare field.

Occupational Therapy: Available Degrees: Graduate degrees in occupational therapy are available in two forms:

  • • Master's of Science (M.S.)
  • • Doctorate (Ph.D.)

A master's degree is the minimum requirement for employment in this field.

Top-Ranked Occupational Therapy Schools: U.S. News and World Report publishes rankings of degree programs in a wide range of fields. Rankings are based on job placement rate, faculty/student ratio, and program funding, among other criteria. Some schools with the highest-ranking graduate programs in occupational therapy are:

  • • Boston University (Sargent)
  • • Washington University in St. Louis
  • • University of Southern California
  • • University of Illinois--Chicago
  • • Tufts University--Boston School of Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy Associations: Many opportunities exist for nurses to gain membership in professional societies and organizations. The American Occupational Therapy Association is the largest organization of occupational therapists in the U.S., and many states and regions across the country have their own groups as well.

Individuals with Degrees in Occupational Therapy: Income and Employment Statistics: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009, the mean annual wage for those individuals employed as occupational therapists across all industries in the U.S. was $70,680. Roughly one third of all occupational therapists were employed by general medical and surgical hospitals, while another third were employed by offices of other health practitioners; however, the highest-paying industry for these jobs with substantial employment was home health care services, with a mean annual wage of $81,360. Other industry sectors that are major employers of nurses include elementary/secondary schools and nursing care facilities.

On a state level, the northeastern states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts ranked highly among states with a high concentration of occupational therapist employees (1.32, 1.27, and 1.22 per thousand workers in May 2009, respectively). The highest paying states were California, Nevada, and New Jersey, with annual mean wages of just over $80,000.

National employment of occupational therapists is expected to grow by an impressive 26 percent from 2008 to 2018. Of note, increasing elderly populations and numbers of individuals with disabilities or limited function are expected to drive demand for occupational therapists for the foreseeable future.

Degrees in occupational therapy can open the door to a challenging and stimulating career. And if you're looking for positive job growth outlook, respectable salaries, and the reward of helping people, occupational therapy schools could lead you toward an optimistic future.

The writer Dave Raiser is a doctoral candidate in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. In addition to substantial experience in biomedical research, his industry experience includes work for a biological and clinical data search engine company, a biotechnology review blog, and an idea-to-market inventor services company. Dave has bachelor's degrees in biology and music from the University of Richmond.

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