How Much Do Occupational Therapists Earn? (Plus Top Salaries By State)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 8, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated September 8, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

Occupational therapists handle a variety of physical tasks while assisting individuals with daily living. Their pay is dependent on their geographical location, the healthcare facility they work for and their level of expertise. If you are interested in becoming an occupational therapist, it may be helpful to gain an accurate idea of their average yearly salary to see if it is the right career path for you. In this article, we discuss what occupational therapists do, their average salary, occupational therapist requirements and answers to frequently asked questions.

What does an occupational therapist do?

An occupational therapist is responsible for treating individuals with mental, physical or emotional disabilities, trauma or illness. They use therapeutic techniques to help patients perform the daily activities of living. Some of their detailed responsibilities include:

  • Assessing patients' physical and mental condition to develop a treatment plan

  • Determining the needed adjustments for clients' home or work environments

  • Using therapeutic equipment to help clients with daily activities

  • Educating clients and their family members about treatment

Average salary of an occupational therapist

Occupational therapists typically work full-time and their average salary depends on the facility they work for, level of experience and their geographical location. Here is the common average salary for occupational therapists:

Average U.S. salary: $76,108 per year per salaries on Indeed where up-to-date salary information can be found.

Salaries range from $66,000 to $129,000 per year.

Related: Salary vs. Hourly Pay: What Are the Differences?

Salary by state

Here are the yearly salaries for occupational therapists by state. The salaries below were populated using state-specific data from Indeed. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please check Indeed Salaries.

California: $95,160 per year

Connecticut: $90,780 per year

Florida: $81,520 per year

Maine: $72,160 per year

New Hampshire: $79,850 per year

New Jersey: $96,600 per year

New York: $81,520 per year

Nevada: $100,970 per year

Pennsylvania: $81,030 per year

Texas: $89,360 per year

Related: How To Become an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapist requirements

There are various qualifications prospective occupational therapists must meet before they begin providing therapeutic services. Here are some of the requirements to become an occupational therapist:

  • Education

  • Training

  • License

  • Additional certification

Education

The first step toward becoming an OT is to obtain your bachelor's degree in occupational therapy, biology, sociology or health science. During your undergraduate program, it is important to take all prerequisite classes required by grad school admissions. Your undergraduate degree program will take about three to four years to complete.

Once your undergraduate degree is completed, you may start your master's degree program in occupational therapy. Some graduate programs require prior experience working with individuals who have disabilities. During your graduate education, you will complete coursework in functional anatomy, assistive technology, patient care concepts, medical and social conditions, and other research methods.

Related: How To List Education on a Resume

Training

Before you begin working as an occupational therapist, you must participate in about 24 weeks of field experience under the supervision of a licensed OT. It may also be helpful to complete an internship during your education or shortly following your education to gain hands-on experience with patient care.

License

Every state requires OTs to complete licensing. Each state's requirements may differ, but the standard requirements across all states are the completion of an accredited OT program, fieldwork experience and successful completion of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. Candidates who pass the exam will receive the credential of Occupational Therapist Registered.

Additional certification

If you are interested in demonstrating a deeper knowledge of the occupational therapy practice, you can do so by pursuing specialty or board certifications from the American Occupational Therapy Association. The areas you may specialize in include gerontology, environmental modification, low vision, physical rehabilitation and pediatrics.

Frequently asked questions

What is the job outlook for occupational therapists?

The occupational therapist career has a projected growth of about 24% until 2024. The estimated number of job openings for this time period in the occupational therapy field is over 30,000.

What skills are required for occupational therapists to be successful in their positions?

The skills that occupational therapists need to be successful are:

  • Patience: It is essential for occupational therapists to be patient. Their clients often must work through a series of actions and they may regress, which could cause the client to feel angry, stubborn or frustrated. A good OT will help them progress with patience and understanding.

  • Communication: Occupational therapists must often interact with other healthcare providers, patients and family members. They must be able to accurately explain treatments, progress and at-home exercises and adjustments that need to be made.

  • Problem-solving: Each client has their own set of issues that may require the OT's help. An occupational therapist should be able to generate solutions that are effective and work well for clients.

  • Physical strength: There will be several moments when OTs must assist clients with movement. This includes lifting clients and equipment when necessary.

  • Organizational skills: Occupational therapists must be highly organized to carry out their daily responsibilities that may be hectic. They must keep accurate notes, accessible schedules and meetings with other healthcare professionals and team members.

What is the work environment of an occupational therapist?

Occupational therapists may work in schools, hospitals, occupational therapy practices, physician's offices, nursing homes or home health services. They work closely with patients and other healthcare professionals, and they spend most of their time on their feet.

How long does it take to become an occupational therapist?

It can take between 5 and 7 years to complete the education needed to become an occupational therapist.

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