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A Look Inside the Occupational Therapy Job Market

For all college graduates, the nerves of entering into the looming job market can be enough to encourage a few extra semesters of class enrollment, just to stay in the safety net of college. You might be asking yourself, will I be able to find a job? Will it be a job I enjoy? Can I actually make a living? If you’re a student currently working towards your degree in occupational therapy, you can breathe a little easier. Here’s why:

Will I Be Able to Find A Job?

All signs point to yes! This is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational therapy jobs are predicted to grow at a rate of 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, nearly 20 percent greater than the national average. Additionally, in the 2015 AOTA Salary and Workforce Survey, only 16 percent of recent occupational therapy graduates report being unable to find employment within three months of graduation. More than 50 percent of graduates were able to find employment within 1 month of graduation – some of those in under month! Even better, only 16.4 percent of graduates report that they were not able to find employment in their preferred setting.

Keep in mind, these are national averages. While occupational therapy jobs are everywhere, there is always higher demand for jobs in big cities. Finding a job in a rural area might be a bit harder, but it’s still achievable! Check out this map here to see where occupational therapy jobs are in the highest demand as of May 2017 (no surprise, California and Texas hold the two highest spots for demand).

Will It Be a Job I Enjoy?

It’s another yes here! It’s easy to assume individuals entering the workforce as an occupational therapist will enjoy their work. Who wouldn’t love making a difference in the lives of other people on a daily basis? Most occupational therapists report that occupational therapy is a satisfying and rewarding career. Additionally, Glassdoor recently ranked occupational therapy as number four on the list of the 100 best jobs in America. This is largely due in part to OTs focus on helping people get the most out of life, containing cost in healthcare, excellent salaries, low job stress levels and increased job flexibility.

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Will I Actually Make a Living?

Yes again! Although it’s not just about the money, occupational therapy graduates can expect to make well above the national average, regardless of their chosen practice setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for occupational therapists in 2017 was $84,640, with respondents in the 90th percentile making $120,000 or more (learn four traits of high performing OTs here). Occupational therapy assistants reported an annual median salary of $48,000 and a median hourly rate of $26 per hour. More great news? Salaries for occupational therapists have risen 8.2 percent for full-time practitioners since 2010.

So How Do I Get the Job?

Some simple advice to start, make sure your resume is formatted correctly and error free. Additionally, be sure to include a cover letter that explains who you are and why you want the job you are applying for. Maybe this seems obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many job applications we get at All Care Therapies that don’t meet these criteria.

If you get an interview, dress professionally and be early! Do your research about the company you are applying with. Check out the company’s website and find at least three facts you can share in the interview. We ask every applicant what they know about our company and are most impressed by those who have clearly done their homework! Also, be prepared to ask your interviewer questions as well. We always ask if applicants have questions for us at the end of the interview-and we love when they do. It shows they are excited about the position and our company.

You should also be prepared to share your strengths and weaknesses. We also ask this at every interview. Interviewers know no one is perfect, and we’d rather have someone who is aware of and honest about their weaknesses and working to improve them, rather than someone who views themselves as perfect. When sharing your strengths, don’t be afraid to sell yourself. We want to know why we should hire you!

Remember, as you move from the role of occupational therapy student to occupational therapy practitioner, don’t be nervous! You are joining a field with excellent growth, large job opportunities, well paying salaries, high job satisfaction, and most importantly, one that is truly making a difference in the lives of others.

5 thoughts on “A Look Inside the Occupational Therapy Job Market

  1. This is not true anymore. I have been an occupational therapist for over 25 years and job satisfaction is falling rapidly. It might be different if therapists were unionized, but it is becoming increasingly stressful, less satisfying, and less lucrative. The emphasis has changed from helping people to getting paper work done and being profitable for the facility. There is pressure to have good productivity and at least in SNF hours are being cut, paid holidays being taken away, and therapists talking about alternative careers.

  2. I think you need to post numbers state by state because the opportunities vary greatly from each state. It is a lot of money to pay out for tuition only to find you have to move far away in order to get a full time position. I see part -time but not a lot of full time positions in Wisconsin

  3. This article talks about OT jobs in rural areas being difficult to obtain. This is not our experience. A rural OT opening can talk a year to fill. Our OTR openings in cities are much easier to fill.

  4. The only OT jobs I’ve been seeing in my area for months now are as needed PRN jobs that don’t offer any guarantee of hours during the workweek. Its frustrating hearing about how lucrative OT is when the job search can be disappointing.

  5. I completely agree with everyone above. The majority of articles out right now are extremely misleading. With so many OT schools cranking out 50+ students a year, areas are becoming increasingly saturated and finding full time work has been very hard, even in the bigger cities. Only setting hiring are SNF’s, school based and home health.

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