Occupational Therapy Degrees

The Advantages To Earning An Occupational Therapy Degree

Earning an occupational therapy degree offers individuals the ability to work as professionals within the growing industries of health and medical care. Occupational therapists and other workers in the field work closely with patients who have mental, physical developmental, or emotional disabilities which impact their daily living and working skills. Occupational therapists and assistants help clients improve their reasoning abilities, motor skills, and other necessary functions to increase patient independence and productivity. Students enrolled within occupational therapist programs gain the skills and knowledge necessary to help patients improve coordination, cognitive function, memory, physical activity, and problem solving skills. Studies in the field of occupational therapy are based in the biology of the human brain, cognitive sciences, psychology, human disabilities and illness, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.

Most colleges have developed innovative online degree programs in response to the demand of students managing work and family obligations unable to attend on campus courses. Online programs feature virtually the same educational opportunities as their traditional, on campus counterparts. Online courses generally consist of groups of 25 students who receive 24 hour access to class materials and information. Online classes also offer students a more personalized degree experience and one on one interactions with other classmates and instructors through Internet chats. Many students find online programs are one of the most convenient and affordable means to increasing education necessary for personal and professional success.

What Students Learn Within An Occupational Therapy Degree Program

Students within occupational therapy degree programs gain the academic theories and clinical skills necessary for employment as occupational therapy professionals. Occupational therapy professionals are generally required to complete a minimum of a bachelor degree in order to qualify for employment. Many students begin studies within associate degree level, occupational therapy assistant programs. Courses within associate degree programs include: foundations of occupational therapy; human occupations;, human anatomy and physiology; medical terminology survey; English composition; general psychology; developmental rehabilitation theory; developmental rehabilitation fieldwork; analysis of movement; developmental psychology; fundamentals of speech; physical rehabilitation methods; physical rehabilitation theory; clinical conditions; occupational therapy practice skills; abnormal psychology; psychosocial rehabiliation theory; psychosocial rehabilitation fieldwork; psychosocial rehabilitation methods; clinical reasoning in occupational therapy; occupational therapy management issues; professional issues in occupational therapy; college Algebra; fitness and lifetime sports; and a clinical experience. Graduates from associate degree programs may advance to employment or higher degree programs.

Bachelor degree programs in occupational therapy offer students an expanded understanding of the physical and social sciences necessary to increase knowledge and clinical skills for future employment. Bachelor level courses include: occupational theory, English composition, computers and computing, human anatomy and physiology, principles of sociology, social problems, general psychology, occupational development, medical and social conditions, interpersonal skills, group processes, abnormal psychology, ethics, religious and social responsibility, functional anatomy, neuroscience for rehab, theory development, applied statistics, theory development, political science, microeconomics, fieldwork seminar, research seminar, U.S. history, occupational therapy evaluation and documentation, child and adolescent intervention, adult and geriatric intervention, research methods, professional issues, management of occupational therapy services, community practice, thesis advisement, and a clinical experience. Graduates who complete bachelor degree programs advance to employment or master’s degree programs.

Master’s degree programs offer students specialized training necessary to function as occupational therapists and other professionals in the field. Courses include: introduction to occupational therapy, interpersonal dynamics and task oriented groups in occupational therapy, advanced neuromuscular anatomy, occupational development throughout the life span, foundations of professional practice, neuroscience: fundamentals for occupational therapist, occupational therapy and task analysis and media, guided practicum and fieldwork, occupational therapy for mental health, occupational therapy for treatment of neurological conditions, sensorimotor conditions in occupational therapy, application of occupational therapy in physical function, occupational therapy assessment of children, guided practicum, occupational therapy assessment of physical function, occupational therapy for children, research methods used in occupational therapy, applied technology in occupational therapy, planning and management of occupational therapy services, occupational therapy applications in gerontology, occupational therapy consultant and supervision, guided research practicum, and fieldwork in occupational therapy. Graduates with master’s degrees often advance to employment or continue studies within doctoral programs.

Students within doctoral programs gain the knowledge and skills necessary to qualify as experts within the field of occupational therapy. Courses at a doctoral level include: anatomy and physiology; introduction to didactic, clinical, and capstone experiences; foundations of occupational therapy; kinesiology in occupations; development of occupation across the lifespan; occupational and contextual analysis; human conditions and occupations; neuroanatomy; therapeutic use of self; evidence in occupational therapy practice; occupational therapy interventions; business of practice and management; innovations and technology in occupational therapy; research design; creative leadership; fieldwork experience; introduction to residency program; occupational therapy colliquium; and a clinical internship. Graduates from doctoral programs often advance to employment as occupational therapists, instructors, or researchers.

Prospective Jobs For Graduates With Occupational Therapy Degrees

Graduates who complete occupational therapy degrees gain the educational background necessary to work within a variety of settings based upon education and experience level. Most graduates work within hospitals, rehabilitation systems, community agencies, public and private school systems, and private residences. Associate’s degree graduates generally gain employment as occupational therapist’s aides, occupational therapy assistants, or medical technicians. Bachelor degree graduates often work as managers of occupational therapy offices, occupational therapy assistants, or as occupational therapists with additional education. Graduates with master’s degrees generally gain employment as occupational therapists, supervisors of medical facilities, health services managers, executives within private medical organizations, or instructors within vocational schools. Graduates with doctoral degrees may work as occupational therapists, researchers, or instructors within colleges or universities.

Salary Range For Occupational Therapy Degree Graduates

Graduates who complete occupational therapy degree programs gain a solid educational background necessary for long term career success. Occupational therapy professionals have earnings based upon factors like education level, area of specialty, and work experience. Most graduates who complete associate degree programs and advance to employment as occupational therapy aides earn $21,930 to $33,340 annually. Graduates who complete bachelor degree programs and work as occupational therapy assistants generally earn $39,240 to $57,810 annually. Graduates who complete master’s degree programs and work as occupational therapists earn $39,240 to $57,810 annually. Graduates with doctoral degrees and work as instructors within colleges and universities earn $74,939 annually. All earnings are based upon reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Career Outlook and Advancement Opportunities For Occupational Therapy Degree Graduates

Graduates who complete occupational therapy degrees are expected to find a number of employment opportunities within a quickly expanding field. As the health care system expands to meet the needs of an aging population and patients with disabling condit/ions and limited functions, the demand for qualified occupational therapy professionals will also increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports job growth for occupational therapists will increase by 26 percent through 2018, at a much faster than average rate in comparison to other occupations. The demand for occupational therapy aides and assistants is also expected to increase significantly at a much faster than average rate with the BLS predicting employment growth to increase by 30 percent through 2018. Federal laws, like the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act which mandates funding for occupational therapy services, will increase the demand for additional occupational therapists and assistants within school based special education programs for students in need of assistance.

Most occupational therapists and assistants begin employment within entry level positions and advance to jobs with greater responsibilities and higher salaries upon gaining experience, specializing training, or continuing education. Graduates who begin employment as aides upon completing associate or bachelor degree programs often advance to assistant and administrative positions. Many graduates work as directors of specific occupational therapy departments or advance to instructor positions within educational institutions and health agencies. Graduates who complete master’s and doctoral degree programs often begin employment as occupational therapists and advance to supervisory and administrative positions within hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Some may also begin independent practices upon gaining relevant training and adequate funding or advance to instructor or researcher positions within colleges and universities.

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