Inside Occupational Therapist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Level Of Effort Required...
I think it's the amount of effort you have to put in when working with other people. It's not a game and it's certainly harder to detach yourself from their problems and your own. I assume most people think this is an easy profession and that listening comes easy." (Therapist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Psychology at Job Corp in California; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Providing Quality Care Versus Making Money...
I was surprised with the amount of productivity levels that the organization wants its workers to achieve. There is a stronger emphasis on making sure that the amount of billable minutes are fully achieved for each patient." (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Occupational Therapy at Santa Ana College in California; completed Associate degree in 2011

"Bringing Work Home...
I spend a lot of time outside of work writing reports and researching treatments/interventions." (Occupational Therapist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Occupational Therapy at Tufts University in Massachusetts; completed Master degree in 2012

"More Labor, Less Knowledge At Times...
I was surprised to find that there are typically not as many PCT/CNAs staffed to care for patients. I am often completing tasks that could/should be done by a person at a lower pay rate." (Occupational Therapist; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, female
School: Studied Occupational Therapy at Maryville University in Missouri; completed Master degree in 2008

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Public School Occupational Therapist: "The absolutely best part of the job is that every day is not the same and you do not have to sit at a desk all day or be at a computer all day. Every day is different and you get to decide what activities you would like to do, you can be messy, creative, fun, or simple and clean. It is all about making a connection with the student you are working with and achieving goals to help them increase their skills and improve in the areas where they have deficits. The other great part is you have the summers off, school vacations and snow days off!" (2011)

Occupational Therapist: "The best part of my job is working with a team of highly skilled professionals to come up with the best plans for the children and their families. I learn new things every day! The worst part of my job is that after assessing the children, we only see them for follow-up evaluations every few months. To be able to provide treatment for them on a weekly basis would be ideal, but our clinic functions as an evaluation clinic. We rely on health care providers in the children's communities to carry out our recommendations." (2010)

Occupational Therapist: "The best part of my job is getting to know people and working with them to solve problems in their everyday lives that are important to them. It requires me to understand a lot about people, mentally, physically and spiritually, which I think is really interesting, and it also requires me to be creative, open, flexible, and, most of the time, playful (since I work with children). The only negative really is the paperwork that goes along with the job, but you just learn to do it efficiently and ethically, and it's not all that bad!" (2010)

Career Background

Occupational Therapist

  Job Tasks
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Career Video

Career Tips

"Get Experience In Variety Of Settings...
Shadow professionals in a variety of settings prior to going to graduate school to become an occupational therapist so that you know what you're going into. Get involved in as many different settings as possible to expand your skill and knowledge set." (Occupational Therapist; 2013)

"Observe OTR's In The Field...
I would advise shadowing an occupational therapist in the workplace prior to going to school so you get a full understanding of everything the job encompasses." (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant; 2013)

Make sure you are open minded and flexible." (Occupational Therapist; 2013)

"Watch Out For Yourself Too...
I think the best thing to know would be your own mental health and safety. Don't hurt yourself trying to help other people." (Therapist; 2013)

"What Kind Of Patient...
The best advice I could give if you were to pursue a job in Occupational Therapy is to first decide the population you would want to work with. Occupational therapists work in Geriatrics (older people), Physical Dysfunction (recent operation/medical), Mental Health, and Pediatrics. Then observe or call nursing homes, schools, group homes, private schools, hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, and psychiatric facilities to set up a time to observe or 'shadow' an occupational therapist in that setting. If you are not a people person, being a therapist may be difficult. Helping another change their life or helping to improve their lives means you have to be empathetic, patient, and willing to do what it takes to make that change for them." (Public School Occupational Therapist; 2011)

"Shadow And Ask Questions...
1. Shadow occupational therapists in a variety of clinical settings -- schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. -- in order to get a feeling for what the job entails. Ask lots of questions about what the therapist is doing and why! 2. Volunteer in a hospital rehabilitation department or other setting where a therapist works. Again, ask lots of questions! 3. Take as many science classes as you can! Take anatomy and physiology, biology, physics, and psychology." (Occupational Therapist; 2010)

"Learn What An OT Really Does...
Go spend time or volunteer with occupational therapists in different settings, like schools, hospitals, etc. so you can see what OT really does. Build your knowledge and skills in "hard" sciences (anatomy and physiology) as well as sciences like sociology and psychology, and don't neglect the arts. Look at the website for the American Occupational Therapy Association. There's a lot of good information there about the profession." (Occupational Therapist; 2010)