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What are the education requirements to become an occupational therapist?

I am interested in this career but don't fully understand the path I would need to take to get there. #occupational-therapy #career #career-paths #education-requirements

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David’s Answer

In order to be an Occupational Therapist, one needs a masters degree. If you get a bachelors degree in OT or in a medical field, you can get a masters degree with 1 1/2 to 2 years additional study. If you have a bachelors degree in a different subject such as english you can still apply for a Masters in OT but you will probably need to take a few prerequite courses and the masters degree is likely to take 2 1/2 years of study.

The American Occupational Therapy Association is lobbying to have the entry level changed to doctorate degree by 2025 but that has not yet been decided.

A masters degree is sufficient is you want to be a clinician working with patients. If you want to do research or teach in a university, you will need a doctorate degree.

OT schools are very competitive especially if you live in one of the major urban. The Bureau of labor and statistics indicates that OT is among the fastest growing fields in the country partly because OTs are needed in schools, in nursing homes, in assisted living facilities, in rehab centers, in prisons and in private rehab practices.

You can also become an OT assistant with a 2 year associates degree in OT. There are lots of jobs for OT assistants (COTAs) also.

David recommends the following next steps:

visit sites which offer OT services to talk to OTs and COTAs about their work and education

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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Lillian, This is a very interesting field and traditionally with a lower bar to entry than the very competitive Physical Therapy license. About 10 years ago the standards increased and PTs had to have a PhD. About 2 years ago, the same thing occurred for Occupational Therapists. You would now have to get a PhD. as well. I think this requirement is overkill as the practice is not as involved medically as a for a Physical Therapist. You could research education, salary and job availability for Occupational Therapy Assistant. I know for PTs it is possible to work as an Assistant WHILE going to school. See below for info:

Lisa recommends the following next steps:

Go to the US Department of Labor & Statistic's website and click around for educational requirements for OTs.
Also look for "jobs for OT Assistants" Ask for further help if you have any difficulty in moving around the website.