Occupational therapists help people of all ages (newborns through senior citizens) master skills needed to carry out daily functions, enhancing quality of life. This may include helping clients master or re-learn how to eat, dress, groom, bath, and cook following an illness or injury that results in a physical disability. Occupational therapists can also work with those with mental or emotional challenges, helping clients to manage time and work productively with others. Employment is available in a variety of settings: schools, homes, nursing facilities, and hospitals as well as research and teaching positions. Further information on the field can be found at the American Occupational Therapy Association website (www.aota.org). For more information on career opportunities, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. The majority of occupational therapy programs are masters-degree granting programs, though several schools offer doctoral (OTD) programs. For a list of schools that offer OT Programs, please visit the AOTA website (www.aota.org).
- Volunteer work or paid experience working with disabled individuals
- A bachelor’s degree, with courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, statistics, psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology or human development across the lifespan, medical terminology, and sociology (requirements vary by school – prerequisites should be checked for each school of interest); many require prerequisite courses to be completed with “B” grades or higher, with an overall GPA of 3.0 – 3.2.
- Check prerequisites for each program through the OTCAS website http://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Find-School/AccreditEntryLevel/OTMasters.aspx
- Experience shadowing an OT or an OTA (typically a letter of recommendation from a practicing occupational therapist is required)
- Application to OT Programs is through a centralized service, OTCAS (www.aota.org/educate/edres/otcas.aspx )
For further information about studying to become an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. To ask questions of an OT or OTA student, send inquiries to AskAStudent@aota.org. Allow up to 1 week for a response.