Occupational Therapists help people who have disabilities, injuries, or illnesses that impede their ability to function on a daily basis. They provide therapies and physical skills training to help those patients more easily accomplish the tasks and activities they want to. Here are several reasons why a Masters in Occupational Therapy is a smart career move right now.
Over the next decade, job growth in the healthcare industry is expected to grow at a significantly higher rate than other occupation types. In total, the U.S. government alone anticipates about two million new health care jobs are on the horizon.
Working in growing industries has several short-term and long-term career advantages. The first is that when workers are in demand, they can command a higher rate of pay. Second, because the field is expanding, so too will the opportunities for promotion and career advancement. Lastly, a high demand for workers also means very stable jobs.
This leads to the next big advantage to a career in Occupational Therapy. Health care professionals are always sought after because human beings always need healthcare. Moreover, jobs in this field tend to be very well-paying and well regarded.
The median wage for health care employees is about double that of other occupations, on average. Current median income for Occupational Therapists is between $80,000 and $90,000 per year.
Employees with a career background in technology might be surprised to learn that Occupational Therapy classwork and jobs interact with some very advanced technology. Given the fact that virtually every aspect of healthcare is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced technology, it’s a given that those on the ground, helping patients solve life problems will as well. Those who are comfortable with technology are in a unique position to help advance the Occupational Therapy field, as they will be able to possibly identify new and better uses for technology in the therapy process.
Similarly, people with training and education in business and marketing are very valuable within healthcare workplaces, when they also have the training to do hands-on healthcare. Employees who understand both the patient care aspects of the company as well as the business operations components are excellent candidates for management and leadership positions.
People with educational and work backgrounds in the softer, human sciences, like Social Work, Psychology, or Sociology may also see a major benefit in Occupational Therapy as a career. Occupational Therapists work with people, so of course, an understanding of what people do and why they do it is helpful. What’s even more crucial to successful occupational therapy sessions is the therapist’s ability to truly try to understand the specific needs and motivations of each client, which takes both compassion and the ability to think critically about human needs.
The only way to become an Occupational Therapist is to obtain a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and then obtain a license for the state in which you want to work. If you are going to invest your time and money into such a program, with the aim of advancing your career, make sure to choose a college that offers the right types of features. You want to leave with your master’s degree in hand, in the best possible position to get the job you want.
Look for schools that prioritize hands-on learning. Occupational Therapy is intensely hands-on work. The more practice you have using your physical skills before entering the workforce, the better you’ll perform immediately once you’re hired.
Given the big push across all fields, especially healthcare fields, to increasingly use more and more sophisticated technology, look for a school that is keeping up with the times. With so many advancements in 3-D printing, simulators, imaging devices, and remote therapy consultation, be sure to ask any schools you consider how much of this is included in the curriculum.
Finally, like almost every career within the health sciences, providers are working with people. They collaborate with the people on their team and serve the people who are their patients. Look for a school with a program that emphasizes the humanity of the work.
There are two tell-tale signs of whether a school is providing a people-centric educational model. The school should start by treating the students like people with individual wants and needs. If they offer a variety of learning environments, student support services, and other conveniences aimed at helping a diverse group of students succeed, chances are that school has the right mindset.
The second big sign is how seriously the program takes ethics, cultural awareness and inclusiveness, and the school community. Again, these are indicators that the school’s staff has built a program that emphasizes the human aspects of the work, which is a huge part of the job.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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