Bachelor's degrees in occupational therapy encompass the physical, biological and behavioral sciences. Courses may cover the application of therapy principles in areas such as mental health, adult physical disabilities, gerontology and pediatrics. Some classes such as statistics and critical thinking may be taken online.
Career options and salaries in occupational therapy
With a bachelor's degree, you can gain hands-on expertise as an occupational therapy assistant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that employment for these assistants will expand by 43.3 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is more than three times the estimated growth rate for all U.S. occupations. The median wage for OT assistants in 2010 reached $51,010.
To work as a licensed occupational therapist, you must hold a master's degree. Many programs combine bachelor's and master's degrees, making it simpler to achieve both necessary milestones. After passing a licensure exam and meeting local state requirements, you can earn the title of Occupational Therapist Registered, or OTR.
The BLS reports that occupational therapists earned median annual wages of $72,320 in 2010. About 36,400 new jobs are projected between 2010 and 2020, with an estimated growth rate of 33.5 percent. Medical advancements in the occupational therapy field and a higher expectation of heart attack and stroke help to explain the increased employment opportunities.
Beyond your bachelor's degree
The Department of Labor's O*NET website notes that 86 percent of occupational therapists held a master's degree, while 9 percent held a doctoral or professional degree in 2010. Many experienced therapists go on to specialize in mental health, physical rehabilitation, pediatrics or gerontology. With more education, you could teach the trade at a college or university.
Occupational therapists generally tend to succeed in the workplace thanks to their advanced training and skill, and bachelor's degrees in the field are a necessary step toward the licensure required by all states. Hybrid programs offer online classes combined with practical experience in the field, so you can learn the trade without sacrificing your current career.