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Occupational Therapy Career

Occupational Therapists - Employment and earnings


Occupational therapists hold about 92,000 jobs. About 1 in 10 occupational therapists held more than one job.

The largest number of jobs are in hospitals. Other major employers are offices of other health practitioners (including offices of occupational therapists), public and private educational services, and nursing care facilities.

Some occupational therapists are employed by home health care services, outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, individual and family services, community care facilities for the elderly, and government agencies.

A small number of occupational therapists are self-employed in private practice. These practitioners see clients referred by physicians or other health professionals or provided contract or consulting services to nursing care facilities, schools, adult day care programs, and home health care agencies.

Future Outlook

Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. The impact of proposed Federal legislation imposing limits on reimbursement for therapy services may adversely affect the job market for occupational therapists in the short run. However, over the long run, the demand for occupational therapists should continue to rise as a result of growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function who require therapy services.

The baby-boom generation’s movement into middle age, a period when the incidence of heart attack and stroke increases, will spur demand for therapeutic services. Growth in the population 75 years and older—an age group that suffers from high incidences of disabling conditions—also will increase demand for therapeutic services.

Driver rehabilitation and fall-prevention training for the elderly are emerging practice areas for occupational therapy. In addition, medical advances now enable more patients with critical problems to survive—patients who ultimately may need extensive therapy.

Hospitals will continue to employ a large number of occupational therapists to provide therapy services to acutely ill inpatients. Hospitals also will need occupational therapists to staff their outpatient rehabilitation programs.

Employment growth in schools will result from the expansion of the school-age population, the extension of services for disabled students, and an increasing prevalence of sensory disorders in children. Therapists will be needed to help children with disabilities prepare to enter special education programs.

Earnings of Occupational Therapists

Median annual earnings of occupational therapists are $54,660. The middle 50 percent earn between $45,690 and $67,010. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $37,430, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $81,600. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of occupational therapists are:

  • Home health care services $58,720
  • Offices of other health practitioners $56,620
  • Nursing care facilities $56,570
  • General medical and surgical hospitals $55,710
  • Elementary and secondary schools $48,580


Information for Occupational Therapists

Information for Occupational Therapist Assistants and Aides

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