home | contact us | disclaimer  

Occupational Therapist Programs: Occupational Therapy University and Schools

An occupational therapist works with patients undergoing rehabilitation, helping them recover from injury and helping with natural healing of the body. The field of occupational health covers a variety of disciplines including skin and wound health, coordination, range of motion, functional postures, and sensation. An occupational therapist is often involved with treatment, diagnoses, and evaluation of various ailments and conditions, and works with a team of occupational health practitioners. Training at an occupational therapy college enables students to learn the critical knowledge and skills needed for a successful occupational career, and a variety of course programs and career options are available in the field of occupational medicine, rehabilitation, and physical development after injury.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy takes place in a clinic or hospital setting where the occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant develops a treatment plan for each patient. Patients are advised to undertake various muscle and bone strengthening exercises, and an occupational therapist may be involved with showing patients how to perform each exercise so that they can live as independently as possible.

An occupational therapy assistant is often involved with helping patients perform various tasks and exercises; these may include improving hand-eye coordination, restoring balance, aligning posture, or simply re-learning how to move and walk. Occupational therapy encourages patients to develop flexibility and range of motion so that they can enjoy a variety of physical activities, restore their strength, and enjoy natural movement.

An occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant are both required to obtain an occupational license before practicing, and can complete an occupational health and safety degree program as part of their training. Studying occupational medicine with lifelong studies and professional development opens up opportunities for career advancement in the field.

Attending Occupational Therapy School

Occupational therapy schools can help students receive the training and experience they need to enter the field, and formal training offers a comprehensive education and program for a rewarding career in the health industry. An entry level occupational therapist position may require an associate's degree from an occupational therapy school, while a bachelor's or master's degree can prepare students for advanced positions in their field.

An occupational therapy assistant is the first step towards a lifelong career in the industry, and almost all occupational therapy programs require students to complete an internship as part of their studies. Occupational medicine is a subject available at many science institutions and college programs. During the training and education stages, the occupational therapy school may also offer occupational career information for direct placement after graduation, along with a formal occupational health and safety degree program that allows students to obtain an occupational license.

Occupational Therapy Programs

Occupational therapy programs allow students to explore many subjects and curriculum in the health industry, including in-depth studies of the human body, patient psychology, and hospital procedures. An occupational therapy education often begins with learning how to assist clients with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. A fully-trained occupational therapist will then be responsible for teaching life skills, making use of adaptive equipment, and improving the clients' quality of life as they become more independent.

An occupational therapy education lays the foundation for a rewarding career in patient care and rehabilitation, and almost all occupational therapy jobs work directly with patients and clients. As a result, occupational therapy programs teach students how to:

  • Identify and nurture both physical and emotional development in patients
  • Create a working treatment plan for each patient
  • Develop strong communication skills and create a lasting relationship with each patient
  • Learn how to develop muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination in each patient
  • Understand body movement and natural functioning
  • Learn how the body rehabilitates itself naturally, and how occupational therapy can help with the process

Classes and Curriculum in an Occupational Health and Safety Degree Program

Common courses and classes with an occupational health and safety degree program include:

  • Evaluation and Treatment of Pain
  • Principles of Change and Pain Management
  • Pain Management in Special Populations
  • Complementary Medicine
  • Health Behavior & Health Communication
  • Neuroanatomy and Pharmacology of Pain
  • Ethical and Sociocultural Aspects of Pain
  • Theory and Management of Pain

An occupational license is required for hands-on training and working with clients, and students must pass an examination in order to obtain licensure.

Occupational Career Information

Occupational therapy jobs include:

  • Occupational therapist aide
  • Occupational therapist assistant
  • Occupational therapist or staff supervisor
  • Medical or health services manager

An occupational therapist aide and occupational therapist assistant are the entry-level positions in the field, and often entail working alongside a licensed occupational therapist. An occupational therapist aide may be involved with:

  • Teaching clients basic skills and activities
  • Administrative work in the occupational therapy office or clinic
  • Working with a variety of age groups

An occupational therapy assistant is commonly involved with:

  • Teaching daily living skills and using adaptive equipment to take care of themselves
  • Improving flexibility with stretching exercises
  • Keeping client records accurate and up to date
  • Reporting the client's progress to the occupational therapist
  • Working with a variety of people with developmental, emotional, and mental disabilities

An occupational therapist is commonly involved with:

  • Teaching fundamental life skills, developing motor skills, and helping improve cognitive skills in the patient
  • Developing games and activities so that clients can learn to use adaptive equipment as they become stronger
  • Teach living skills such as budgeting, home care, and shopping
  • Administrative work such as keeping records accurate and developing sound treatment plans

A medical or health services manager is involved with supervising an occupational therapy team, and may be involved with:

  • Education and professional development
  • Managing budgets and supervising employees
  • Creating and maintaining policies and procedures
  • Evaluating employees and developing training programs

Occupational Therapy School Accreditation

Many 4-year colleges and universities offer an occupational health and safety degree program under their Division of Occupational Science. Associates degree programs in occupational education may also be available at a technical college. These programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the American Occupational Therapy Association, or the regional association of colleges and schools.

Employment Prospects After Occupational Therapy School

Job opportunities and are expected to grow faster than average through 2014 as more people seek alternative healthcare and rehabilitation services. Skilled professionals in the industry are needed to help a variety of people with disabilities, mental health development, and learn techniques and coping strategies to lead a better life. Salaries and earnings vary depending on the type of position in an occupational therapy role. Median annual earnings for an occupational therapist were $54,660 in 2004. Related occupations include:

  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Counselors
  • Recreational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Audiologists


Back to Occupational Therapist Programs: Occupational Therapy University and Schools