Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help patients perform the tasks of everyday life. These can include modifications to the home or workplace and exercises to enhance abilities. They can work with a small child through adaptive play to reach milestones; they can help an elderly stroke patient with recovering the ability to drive. They can help an arthritic patient develop techniques for self-care to increase independence. Training can be at the master’s level or the doctorate level, the plan is to transition to doctoral level by 2025. The doctorate is completed in three years after undergrad.

Job Market: The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate is 17% (Much faster than average).

Base Salary: $86,280 per year $41.48 per hour

Prerequisites

Prerequisites vary slightly from school to school, this list will cover the requirements at many schools. It is a good idea to make your own list of 5-6 schools and create a spreadsheet from the information provided in the OT School Program Directory.

  • Chemistry 2 semesters
  • General Biology 2 semesters
  • Ethics
  • Anatomy with lab
  • Physiology with lab (lab is taken in a later semester than lecture)
  • Physics 2 semesters
  • Medical Terminology (can be one credit online)
  • English 1-2 semesters
  • Statistics
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Communications (like SCPP Medical Counseling Skills)

Preparation Outside the Classroom

A knowledge of the field is helpful in the application process. Observing as a volunteer or technician in a school, hospital, or nursing home is required, and you will need to document hours. Forty hours is considered minimal, and competitive applicants will have 200 or more. Remember to work with at least two different age groups (most patients are geriatric, so be certain to work with older patients), and at least three locations. Logan Center, Healthwin, Saint Joseph Mishawaka Medical Center and nursing homes are all good volunteer locations.

Health care is a life of service and occupational therapy programs are also looking for a consistent interest in the well-being of others, particularly vulnerable groups like those in poverty, asylum seekers, those with disabilities, etc.

Applying

Applications are submitted through a central applications service for 119 of the 244 schools, the OTCAS. The optimal application timeline is generally from August to September.

Committee letters are not required, and for most schools, three to four individual letters are required. See individual school sites for details.

At this time the GRE is the standardized test required by most schools; you will have results sent to OTCAS or to the individual schools.

You should apply to 5-7 programs.

Resources