Career Change to OT

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Comments (10)

Fabrizio1981 in Hastings On Hudson, New York

33 months ago

Hi everyone - I am 30 yrs old and have been working as a web developer since college {bachelor of science in marketing} but I am looking to switch into the OT field. In the past I have worked as a personal trainer, volunteered a local emergency room and after doing research on what an occupational therapist does, feel this is where I want to be.

My question is in terms of education. Where do I start?

I now know there are various levels of occupational therapy, ranging from a B.S. to M.S. to PhD. I've also seen the more junior level fields such as OT Aid and OT Assistant.

I have my bachelors but have taken minimal science courses so I'm sure if I wanted to enter any program, pre-reqs would be required. What would you guys do if you wanted to entirely switch your life around and train to become an OT? Do I quit my job, find a job as an Aid and then first attain an assistant degree? Can you work full time while doing all of this?

Any experience from fellow career-changers would be greatly appreciated! I think once the work is done the career would be fantastic, the problem is getting over the fear and dramatic change it takes to begin. Thanks

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MSG in Salinas, California

33 months ago

I am going through what you are. If you can take all of the pre-reqs without quitting, that's a good thing to do. However, most schools require many hours of job shadowing. I don't see how you will be able to accomplish this outside a normal 9 to 5 M-F schedule. I have been able to shadow an OT at a local hospital during the weekends, but she has been really flaky and weird, and now I'm having to look elsewhere. It's tough finding an OT to shadow outside their normal schedules (8 to 4; M-F).

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Mr. E in San Jose, California

33 months ago

Fabrizio1981 in Hastings On Hudson, New York said: Hi everyone - I am 30 yrs old and have been working as a web developer since college {bachelor of science in marketing} but I am looking to switch into the OT field. In the past I have worked as a personal trainer, volunteered a local emergency room and after doing research on what an occupational therapist does, feel this is where I want to be.

My question is in terms of education. Where do I start?

I now know there are various levels of occupational therapy, ranging from a B.S. to M.S. to PhD. I've also seen the more junior level fields such as OT Aid and OT Assistant.

I have my bachelors but have taken minimal science courses so I'm sure if I wanted to enter any program, pre-reqs would be required. What would you guys do if you wanted to entirely switch your life around and train to become an OT? Do I quit my job, find a job as an Aid and then first attain an assistant degree? Can you work full time while doing all of this?

Any experience from fellow career-changers would be greatly appreciated! I think once the work is done the career would be fantastic, the problem is getting over the fear and dramatic change it takes to begin. Thanks

Wow, we have very similar backgrounds! I was also in high tech for a number of years making great money, but really did not like my job, so I quit. I recently graduated from SJSU with my a Masters in OT. Btw, I am also in my 30's.

As for what degree to pursue, you have to have your MS. My advice is to go for OT rather COTA (OT Assistant) as both programs take the same amount of time to complete (2 years). The pre reqs for both OT and COTA are pretty much the same.

I took the pre reqs while I was working full-time, so it took me quite some time to finish.

The program at SJSU is pretty rigorous, but it is definitely doable. There are two programs at SJSU, there is the BS/MS and MS. Both programs are pretty much the same.

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Mr. E in San Jose, California

33 months ago

Continuation.....

And of course an OTs salary is higher than a COTA, so you might as well go all the way.

Also, in regards to the BS/MS and MS program. As I was saying, there is no difference between the MS vs. BS/MS. You will learn the same material taught by the same professors (at least at SJSU) and students take the same exams. The main difference is of course as a BS/MS student, you get two degrees in 3 years (hence BS/MS). Both the BS/MS and MS programs have the same exact pre reqs.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

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Fabrizio1981 in Howard Beach, New York

33 months ago

Thank you so much for your responses!! I am going to schedule a meeting with an advisor to take the next steps...i really appreciate all this information.

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Rolomcg in Port Washington, New York

32 months ago

Fabrizio,

I was happy to read your post about switching careers to be an OT. I am in somewhat of a similar boat as you. I'm 35 years old, live in the state of NY (Long Island), and my professional experience up to this point in my life is in editing and writing and marketing, none of which really suit me anymore. I also took no sciences as an undergraduate, having majored in philosophy. Having had a very stressful last few years since the passing of my mother in 2008, I have gone through periods of deep indecision as to the course I want to be on in my working life. But after many many months of taking interest inventories, psychological assessments and evaluations, along with deep reflection and introspection and research, I've come up with a short list of vocations that fit my profile. And the one I've put at the top is Occupational Therapy.

I think the advice to work while taking the prerequisites makes sense. Of course that depends on your situation. As for me, I need to make money, so it makes sense to work and then take prerequisites during the evenings. And then, on weekends, find opportunities to shadow OT's and volunteer.

Have you made a decision on the course of action that best fits you?

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Valerie in Berkeley, California

32 months ago

One bit of advice I would add is do your volunteer work early and take notes on what you saw while volunteering. This will give you a good idea of how you will like the career before you quit your job and plunge in fully. Also, by taking notes on what you saw, you have some stuff to talk about during your interviews and application essay.

BTW also 30, but came from a biology background. Found out I hated the isolation of working in a lab. I did my volunteer work with a hand therapist and loved what I saw. Took about a year including summer to get my prereqs done (anatomy, physio, 2 psych classes, speech, medical terminology and pottery). I'll be starting in a masters program this coming fall.

If you still need to take anatomy, I would say only take that one class if you also are going to be working. It will take up much more of your time than any of the other classes.

Good luck to you!

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OT Student in San Jose, California

28 months ago

Valerie in Berkeley, California said: One bit of advice I would add is do your volunteer work early and take notes on what you saw while volunteering. This will give you a good idea of how you will like the career before you quit your job and plunge in fully. Also, by taking notes on what you saw, you have some stuff to talk about during your interviews and application essay.

BTW also 30, but came from a biology background. Found out I hated the isolation of working in a lab . I did my volunteer work with a hand therapist and loved what I saw. Took about a year including summer to get my prereqs done (anatomy, physio, 2 psych classes, speech, medical terminology and pottery). I'll be starting in a masters program this coming fall.

If you still need to take anatomy, I would say only take that one class if you also are going to be working. It will take up much more of your time than any of the other classes.

Good luck to you!

Congrats! What school will you be attending? I just graduated from SJSU's OT program. It's a rigorous program, but doable. I am now working in my first internship.

I was also in my mid 30's when i got accepted in the program. Either way, OT is a great field to be in!

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natasha in Brooklyn, New York

26 months ago

OT Student in San Jose, California said: Congrats! What school will you be attending? I just graduated from SJSU's OT program. It's a rigorous program, but doable. I am now working in my first internship .

I was also in my mid 30's when i got accepted in the program. Either way, OT is a great field to be in!

How do you like the internship so far? Do you think you are ready for the job or still feel like a student? What you did like and dislike about the work you saw? Please share! I am in NY and in the same boat as all of you guys who want to be OT's! :-) Thanks for any opinion.

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Beth80 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

13 months ago

Hi Fabrizio1981~

Did you decide to make the career change to OT? How do you like it? I know that there are some BA-Masters programs, where you can have a bachelors degree in any field, meet the prerequisites, and then apply for the MA in OT. :)

I used to be a teacher and am considering OT as a career also.

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