What is an occupational therapist?

occupational therapists works on swimming with child with autism

Occupational therapy helps people improve their ability to perform tasks in living and working environments. It's a science-driven profession that enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and live actively with illness, injury or disability.

The occupational therapist enters the field with a master's or doctoral degree, while the occupational therapy assistant generally earns an associate degree. Practitioners must complete supervised clinical internships in a variety of health care settings, and pass a national examination. Most states also regulate occupational therapy practice.

Occupational therapy practitioners work with individuals of all ages who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. They help individuals to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and working skills. Occupational therapy practitioners not only help individuals to improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent loss of function. Service to clients may include helping autistic children interact with other children in the classroom, working with stroke patients to help them master feeding and clothing themselves or suggesting memory aids and enlarged computer programs for seniors living in assisted living.

occupational therapy student works with client on skills needed to prepare food in a kitchenThe goal of an occupational therapy practitioner is to help individuals have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

Career Outlook

Occupational therapy is a career which continues to be in high demand across the country. As the general population ages, advances in health care extend lives, and the role of the occupational therapist is critical to individuals, families and communities. Learn about the OT profession and projections on future employment opportunities in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (U.S. Dept of Labor) and the AOTA's Job Outlook.


Prospective Students

Thinking about a career in occupational therapy? Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association webiste for information about educational preparation and career opportunities. Additionally, the KU Department of Occupational Therapy Education offers advising. Email the department or call (913) 588-7195.

The Kansas City Library provides a great resource for students looking at career opportunities, including occupational therapy.


See Also:

KOTAonline.org: Kansas Occupational Therapy Association

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

Last modified: Oct 01, 2013
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