How To Become An Occupational Therapist
Working with people on a daily basis requires compassion, patience, understanding, determination and strong interpersonal skills, all of which you will need to work as an occupational therapist. If you are considering it as a career, this will help answer a lot of your questions on how to become an occupational therapist.
Most people who are considering a career in the human sciences have begun preparatory training in high school by taking related courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, health and social sciences. These courses are basic preparation for many different programs and are occupational therapist requirements. Undergraduate majors would also include biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, liberal arts and anatomy.
To work as an Occupational Therapist you will require a masters or doctoral degree in order to practice in both Canada and The United States. You will first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree where you will begin your preparation by choosing the appropriate undergraduate courses mentioned, followed by either one or the other of 2 programs. In 2009 there were 150 accredited programs for a masters degree or combination bachelors and masters degree, and there were 4 accredited doctoral degree programs. The college or university you attend must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.
Most of these schools have full time programs, but due to a growing demand for flexibility, many may also offer part time studies on weekends, evenings, distance education via mail and even online studies. You may have to work while you are earning your degree and these options afford you the ability to do so although it will take much longer.
Your academic curriculum will include courses in the physical, biological and behavioral sciences as well as theory and skills, and will also include as occupational therapist requirements at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork.
Once you have graduated from your program, in order to obtain a license to practice, you must pass a national certification exam at which time you will be awarded the title of OTR, Occupational Therapist Registered. Every state regulates the practice and some will have additional requirements to work in specific fields such as schools and early intervention programs. This may include extra classes and certifications. The occupational therapist salary differs depending on the state and experience one has.
But your education in occupational therapy does not end with your degree program. Many states mandate continuing education as a requirement to maintain your license, but even without this requirement it is expected that all occupational therapists will continue their professional development by participating in ongoing learning and education classes and workshops.
As an occupational therapist there are many choices to make to advance your career. You may decide to branch out into one of the specialty areas such as geriatrics, pediatrics or mental health, or you may wish to advance into a more administrative role or even to teach Occupational Therapy in one of the accredited programs. You may wish to work for a while before making your decision, or you may already know what you want to do. Either way, you will have to work hard, but it is a rewarding and stable career.
Hope this information helps you in your search on how to become an occupational therapist.