What Can I Do With a Doctor of Occupational Therapy Degree?

A doctorate degree in occupational therapy qualifies you for the different options of a career in occupational therapy. In this article, let us discuss a few career paths that can be taken into consideration with this degree.

Updated by Palka Manchanda on 20th July 2020

Occupational therapy is an allied health profession performed by specialists called Occupational Therapists that uses assessment and intervention to help individuals, communities or groups who suffer from chronic pain, injury, illness or some disability to cope with day to day activities like moving around, completing household chores, and care for themselves among others.

In simple terms, OT helps you adapt to normal life.

Now, the question arises- What can I do with a doctor of Occupational Therapy Degree?

A doctorate degree in occupational therapy qualifies you for the different options of a career in occupational therapy. It requires you to choose a particular area for your specialization for your studies, that will determine your specific job prospects and professional applications. 

First, let us know the importance of a doctorate degree in occupational therapy.

In today’s fast-growing and emerging healthcare environment by continuing your education and by enrolling in a graduate degree program. You and your clients both will be benefitted. You will become competitive at your workplace and will also develop the skills you need to become a stronger clinician and better advocate for your clients and the profession.

By pursuing a doctorate degree in occupational therapy you often have to complete additional coursework before commencing the doctoral classes. It involves subjects of theory, research, and clinical skills. However, doctoral programs may also emphasize evidence-based practice, policy, advocacy, and leadership. These programs usually require an applied, research-based project and also a practical approach.

Upon obtaining your doctorate degree in occupational therapy, here are a few career paths that can be taken into consideration:

Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist is responsible for helping patients regain their ability to perform daily living and work activities. Their patients have lost these abilities because of mental, physical, developmental, or emotional conditions.

Let us look at some responsibilities performed by an Occupational Therapist:-

  • Review patients’ medical history 

  • Asses their condition and needs

  • Evaluate patients' ability 

  • Confer with physicians, patients’ family members and other members of a patient's care team

  • Develop a treatment plan for patients with specific goals and tasks that will help them meet those goals

  • Demonstrate exercises that can help them relieve pain

  • Evaluate a patient’s home and the workplace to identify potential improvements based on their needs

As per the Bureau of Labour Statistics(BLS), the median pay for OT is $84,950 per year and $40.84 per hour. The growth rate is expected to grow at a rate of 18% for the decade 2018-2028

Gerontology

Gerontology specialists work with older patients to help them recover and overcome the medical obstacles that arise when they grow old. Gerontology is the study of the problems that elderly individuals might encounter and also the aging process. Professionals in this typically study to find ways on how to treat physical, mental, emotional, and social problems. It is a very broad field and includes many subfields. 

The two subfields can be categorized as 

  • Social gerontology: It  is the subfield of gerontology that deals with the social aspects of aging, 

  • Biogerontology: biogerontology is the subfield of gerontology that deals with the biological aspects of aging.

They might work in nursing homes and hospitals. They design and inspect certain procedures. Gerontologists might even find employment in residential retirement communities, and help the aged people to recover physical and emotional needs.They also organize programs and activities geared towards older adults in places like community senior centers.

As per the Bureau of Labour Statistics(BLS), the median pay is $35,060 per year and $16.85 per hour. The growth is expected to grow at a rate of 13 % for the decade 2018-2028.

Pediatrics Specialist

A pediatric specialist is a doctor with advanced training and knowledge in one specific area related to children’s health. A pediatric specialist is different from specialists who treat adults because of the difference in their bodies. Hence these doctors are trained for years to understand those differences.

Types of pediatric specialists

  • Neonatologist: They are trained to handle risky and complicated situations in delicate newborns and infants.

  • Child neurologist: They deal  with the brain and nervous system issues in children

As per the Bureau of Labour Statistics(BLS), the median pay is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year or $100.00 per hour.The career growth rate for the decade 2018-2028 is expected to grow at 7%.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

An Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) is for someone who doesn't want to spend too much time on post-secondary education.It is the second-fastest-growing profession that requires only an associate degree.

His job responsibilities include:-

  • Treating patients by using therapeutic and self-care activities 

  • Monitoring a patient's activities to make sure that they are performing them correctly 

  • Document the patient’s progress inappropriate records, every week.

  • Maintain the treatment equipments and supply inventory

As per the Bureau of Labour Statistics(BLS), the median pay is equal to $59,200 per year and $28.46 per hour. The career growth rate for the decade 2018-2028 is expected to grow at 31%.

Conclusion

Occupational Therapy Degree has the capability to support career aspirations in a number of possible directions such as gerontologist, pediatrics specialist, mental health specialist, etc. Hence if you know the area of occupational therapy you would like to specialize in, then it can help you choose the degree program that will be right for you. So start checking out some great programs, check out the list of the top occupational therapy degrees mentioned above to see if they are a perfect match for you. If any of the schools interest you, make sure to follow the links to their school website and request more information about what specialization tracks are offered in their occupational therapy degree programs.