Pediatric Occupational Therapy
Pediatric occupational therapy is a challenging but immensely rewarding medical specialty. Pediatric Occupational Therapists work with children who have developmental issues or are recovering from a severe injury. They help these children develop sensory, visual and fine motor skills which allow them to interact more capably with their environment and live more independently. Occupational Therapists in this specialty are often rewarded with seeing their young patients running and playing.
Professionals in pediatric occupational therapy work with children who may suffer from autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries or severe bone fractures. Pediatric Occupational Therapists utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities to help their patients increase their strength, coordination and flexibility. In cases where patients are limited in their functionality, POTs help them develop adaptive skills which allow them to function in their environment.
Job Outlook for Pediatric Occupational Therapists
Pediatric occupational therapy has much to offer to students or professionals. The average salary for a Pediatric Occupational Therapist is more than $70,000 per year, with some states like California or Texas offering average salaries that are almost $85,000. This enormous salary does not come with the enormous pressures that more intense occupations produce. In fact, the Wall Street Journal named occupational therapy as one of the top ten professions of 2012.
This profession is also likely to grow at an enormous rate over the next few years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of Pediatric Occupational Therapists in the country will increase by 33 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Skills Necessary for Pediatric Occupational Therapists
The minimum education necessary for Pediatric Occupational Therapists is a Bachelor’s degree with many OT students going on to a Master’s program. Because Occupational Therapists do not prescribe medications or perform invasive procedures, they are not required to attend medical school. Many Pediatric Occupational Therapists are able to succeed in a clinical environment almost immediately following graduation from college.
Pediatric Occupational Therapists must graduate from a degree program that has been certified by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Almost every state in the country has at least one ACOTE certified school.
Students of pediatric occupational therapy will be immersed in the clinical environment while attending college. Almost all of these accredited OT programs mandate that students serve several months in an occupational therapy clinic where they will be able to perform the same procedures that Licensed Occupational Therapists perform.
Additional Preparation for Pediatric Occupational Therapists
While many undergraduate degree programs do offer many courses devoted to pediatric occupational therapy, the most rigorous programs are typically available at the graduate school level. Many of the nation’s finest universities offer Master’s and Doctor’s degree programs that provide outstanding preparation for Occupational Therapists who wish to work with children.
Although no state licensing board requires Pediatric Occupational Therapists to obtain a specialized set of skills distinct from more general Occupational Therapists, it is often wise to acquire knowledge and experience unique to the pediatric specialty. These skills can often help produce greater success among patients and help grow an occupational therapy clinic.