Careers in Occupational Therapy
Once you have your Masters of Occupational Therapy and have completed your state’s requirements for licensure you will be able to find work quite easily. You will then want to consider what kind of situation will work best for your particular style of work as well as your career ambitions. Some people crave their independence where as some people prefer to let other people handle details and prefer to work within an established system where they follow someone else’s structure. Other people are very interested in becoming entrepreneurs and want to establish their own practice. Some people wish to work within a research context within academia or for medical research companies. There is also the question of what sort of clientele one wants to work with as some people flourish working with people who are recovering from injuries, whereas another might find satisfaction in helping people overcome a lifelong disability. All of these factors are worthy of your consideration as you contemplate possible careers in occupational therapy.
The first decision to make will be if you want to work within the realm of healthcare or research. If you are interested in the academic and theoretical aspects of occupational therapy you will generally want to continue your schooling to earn a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy so that you can find your way into a group that is performing cutting edge research within the discipline. Alternately, if you have your doctorate you may want to pursue a career teaching future generations of Occupational Therapists.
An important decision you will want to analyze is whether you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to open your own private practice. This choice will have several benefits and challenges you will want to consider. As with running any business this will require effort above and beyond your actual practice of occupational therapy and will require many hours spent on dealing with business costs, efforts to expand business through advertising and social media and determining if you want to employ staff such as Occupational Therapy Assistants or Occupational Therapy Aides. All of these considerations will take time and many of them financial outlay. The benefits of your own practice are that you will be able to set your own hours, within the framework of running a business, have total control over your clientele and also will be your own boss and have total self-determination in your career.
If you prefer instead to work within an established organization you will need to consider if you prefer to work in a large scale organization such as an HMO or if you want to join a small boutique firm that only employs a few people. Both choices have their own merits as well as potential downsides. This choice is far more about what kind of organization feels comfortable to you. Generally speaking an HMO will give you less autonomy, but a far more consistent pay schedule and little or no responsibility in terms of drumming up additional clientele. Joining a smaller private practice will instead give you more self-determination, but will also usually demand that you take some responsibility in terms of expanding the client base of the firm and your pay may vary more based on your ability to bring in business.
Depending on what kind of organization you work within you may or may not have the ability to determine your clientele. If you prefer to work with a specific group such as children you may wish to find a degree program that will emphasize this career desire by giving you additional specialized study in the area you want to work in. For example, if you prefer working with older people you may wish to find a program that emphasizes Gerontology specific occupational therapy. If having a specific clientele is important to you, that will require you to seek out professional opportunities that match this focus which will generally require either specific training, working in a small boutique firm or opening your own independent practice where you will have control over what sort of clientele you advertise to and take on in your professional career.
All of these careers in occupational therapy will require you to complete a minimum of a Masters of Occupational Therapy and to also become licensed to practice within your state. You will want to take the time to study your state’s licensure laws which you can learn more about on our homepage which you can find by clicking here.