Undoubtedly, occupational therapy is a rewarding career that demands dedication and hard work for several years. If you are interested in pursuing this career and trying to figure out how long it takes to become an occupational therapist, then you are at the right place. This article will discover how long it takes to become an occupational therapist, so stay with us.
It is essential to figure out what you want to become and what your career will be after graduating from high school. So, we have got you covered for all those who have decided to become an occupational therapist.
Today, we will tell you how many years it takes to become an occupational therapist and what you will study in those years. I won’t take much of your time, so let’s discuss how long it takes to become an occupational therapist. Please go through the following table to know how long it takes to become an occupational therapist.
|Educational Pathway||Years Taken|
|Undergraduate Degree||Four years|
|Graduate Degree||2 to 3 years|
|License||Depends on institute|
Becoming an occupational therapist takes 6 to 7 years, from the undergraduate degree to obtaining your license. Here are the details of what you will study in those 6/7 years.
How to Become an Occupational Therapist?
Let’s look deeper into this and see what you will do in these seven years to become an occupational therapist (OT). Here are the steps you will go through to become an occupational therapist.
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
Your career and dream of becoming an occupational therapist start from an undergraduate degree. That’s why enrolling in the relevant subjects and earning a bachelor’s degree is essential. Here are a few significant suggestions that will lead you to secure your career in occupational therapy.
- Health Sciences
If you complete your 4-year bachelor’s degree in the relevant subject, it will be in your favor, and you will be able to understand more complex topics easily when you go for a graduation degree. However, students with a bachelor’s degree in a subject unrelated to occupational therapy need to study Pre-occupational therapy studies first and then enroll in a master’s or doctorate program in occupational therapy.
Get a Graduate Degree
After completing an undergraduate degree, you will get a step closer to becoming an occupational therapist. Now, get yourself enrolled in a graduate degree program. It can be a master’s degree, i.e., Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), or a doctoral program, i.e., Doctor of Occupational Therapy (DOT).
The Master of Occupational Therapy is a two-year program, whereas the Doctor of Occupational Therapy is a three-year program, and both programs are more or less the same. In these years, you will study theory, do practical research, and do fieldwork.
Getting degrees and bookish knowledge is not enough to become an occupational therapist; you must gain practical experience. For this, you can get some clinical experience through 6 months of fieldwork in different healthcare settings. Here are some options for practicing and developing essential skills that an occupational therapist should have.
- Mental health
- Physical disabilities
Obtain an Occupational Therapist License
Your degrees and practical work experience are of no worth until and unless you get a license to practice occupational therapy in real life. You must pass the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) exam to obtain your license. No one is allowed to work as an occupational therapist without a license.
The purpose of this examination is to evaluate the abilities of an individual as an occupational therapist. Candidates who pass this exam will become Certified Occupational Therapists. In most states, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) accredits occupational therapy students’ licenses.
After getting an occupational therapist license, the individual chooses to go for a specialization or work as a generalist. Any occupational therapist interested in specialization training will have the following specialization area options.
- Driving and community mobility.
- School systems.
- Low vision.
- Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing.
What Skills an Occupational Therapist Should Possess?
Getting education and experience related to your career choice is as important as being skilled. The same is true for occupational therapy. There are a few skills that an individual should have beforehand to be a successful occupational therapist.
- He/she should be able to work in a team.
- Effective communication skills.
- Problem-solving skills and critical thinking.
- He/she should be empathic, patient, and flexible.
Responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist
After the dedication of 6 to 7 years of your life in a rewarding career like an occupational therapist, you will perform various responsibilities daily. These include the following:
- You will provide patients with strategies, exercises, etc., to help them become self-sufficient and perform daily tasks independently.
- Help individuals overcome neurological, physical, or psychological difficulties disturbing their routine life and proper functioning.
- Encourage and motivate patients to stay consistent and overcome challenges while performing particular tasks.
- Evaluate patients to recognize the root cause, create personalized solutions, and provide individualized care to ensure therapy works.
The vast field of studies confuses youngsters on what career they should choose for themselves that will open doors of new opportunities for them. I know this feeling, and I have been through this, too, but you don’t have to worry because I got you covered.
- I am mentioning all the job opportunities you will get after becoming an occupational therapist in the list below. So read ahead.
- Occupational therapists can work in hospitals; in the U.S., occupational therapists currently serve in hospitals.
- Apart from hospitals, you can also work in a rehabilitation center as a physical therapist, audio therapist, or speech therapist.
- The remaining 46% of occupational therapists work in schools, homes, nursing centers, and other healthcare centers.
Amazing Facts about Occupational Therapy
- As per News and World Report on the 2022 Best Healthcare Jobs list, the occupational therapist secured the #11 position in the U.S.
- Occupational therapists earn up to $86,280 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 report.
- It is one of the fastest-growing careers and is expected to cross the 17% growth range in the next six or seven years.
- Moreover, it is expected that 23,000 occupational therapists jobs will be offered in a few years in the U.S., acknowledging the rising demand for occupational therapists.
What degree do most occupational therapists need?
To start working as an occupational therapist, you should have a master’s degree and a license from the higher authorities.
Where is the highest demand for occupational therapists?
According to the research, California has the highest demand for occupational therapists.
Which country pays the highest salary for occupational therapists?
Currently, the USA is paying the highest salary to occupational therapists compared to other countries.
What is the role of an occupational therapist?
Occupational therapists play different roles in improving life for people who face difficulties carrying out daily tasks due to illness, trauma, age, etc.
What is the best salary for OT?
The average highest annual salary of an occupational therapist is $139,010.
Why is occupational therapy the best career?
Occupational therapy offers a rewarding career financially, and you also get a chance to improve the quality of life of your clients. Occupational therapists treat patients with physical and mental health problems.
What is the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy?
The main difference between occupational and physical therapy is that physical therapists help patients improve muscle and body parts movements. In contrast, occupational therapists enhance patients’ ability to perform daily activities better.
In the end, I would like to thank Mr. John for helping me gather crucial facts about occupational therapy and collecting data for this article. His knowledge, expertise, and ongoing occupational therapy studies helped me understand and outline the timeline for becoming an occupational therapist. He helped me during the procedure and provided accurate details about the academic, license, and experience requirements to set foot on a rewarding career like occupational therapy.
If it weren’t for him, I would have never been able to gather extensive data on how long it takes to become an occupational therapist. His guidance helped me shape this article for those seeking help to become an occupational therapist.
I hope you find this article helpful. Thank you for reading.