What Careers are Available with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy?

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Studying for a master's degree in occupational therapy can qualify individuals for a rewarding career in a field that is expected to experience enormous growth in the coming years. In fact, Forbes has listed a master's degree in occupational therapy as one of the master's degree programs with the best potential for landing jobs, and the projected growth among job opportunities in the field has been listed as 33 percent.

Professional Positions

Most of those who study for a master's degree in occupational therapy will go on to become occupational therapists. This job entails assisting people with everyday tasks, especially those who are disabled, elderly or suffering from a medical condition. Occupational therapists not only provide assistance to patients, but they also work to rehabilitate patients and help them become independent. Typically, occupational therapists work together with those in a similar rehabilitative role, such as psychologists, social workers, physical therapists and speech pathologists.

Some occupational therapists may specialize in certain areas. Possible areas of specialization for an occupational therapist include mental health, rehabilitation and disability, business and industry, and children and youth. By specializing, occupational therapists can pursue their unique interests and give themselves an advantage when searching for a position.

Work Environment

Occupational therapists can work in a variety of different environments. While many will find themselves working in a hospital or a doctor's office, they also might find themselves working for government agencies, in nursing homes or with home health services providers. The work of an occupational therapist can be very demanding physically and require occupational therapists to be on their feet for long periods of time. However, working as an occupational therapist also tends to involve some office duties and computer work.

Skills Acquired Through Academic Study

A typical master's degree program in occupational therapy lasts two years. A master's degree is usually considered to be a professional entry level degree for aspiring occupational therapists, and students will need to complete a bachelor's degree in an academic discipline that is related to occupational therapy. Some possible bachelor's degree programs that are ideal for those hoping to complete a master's degree in occupational therapy include psychology, health sciences, anthropology and sociology.

Coursework for a master's in occupational therapy will include courses such as human physiology, group dynamics, kinesiology, rehabilitation skills and applied research. Learning objectives of such a program include learning to plan and implement occupational therapies, applying occupational therapy theory to developing practices that promote health, and learning to communicate and practice effectively.

Because there is a great deal of demand for those with a master's in occupational therapy on the job market, continuing one's studies in an occupational therapy program is a great option for those who have undergraduate majors in areas like anthropology and sociology. Not only are jobs for occupational therapists widely available, but they also tend to be fairly well paid. The average salary for an occupational therapist in 2012 was listed as $75,400 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With many career options available and a decent salary, occupational therapy is a career worth considering.