How to Hire an Occupational Therapist

Does your growing business need an occupational therapist? An occupational therapist aims to improve patients’ quality of life of by providing holistic and compassionate care.

Here are some tips to help you find great occupational therapist candidates and choose the right hire for your business.

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Occupational therapists searching for jobs on Indeed*

139,040

Job seekers that clicked occupational therapist jobs

24,735

Resumes for job seekers with occupational therapist experience on Indeed

23,998

Occupational therapist jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring?

  • Common salary in US: $45.84 hourly
  • Typical salaries range from $10.75$200 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – April 2021

As of April 2021, occupational therapist jobs in the U.S. are very competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 5.8 job seekers per occupational therapist job.

Why hire an occupational therapist?

An efficient occupational therapist helps the patients achieve better health and quality of life by caring for them on a predetermined basis. Occupational therapists also:

  • Perform patient assessments to determine medical history, personal goals and physical conditions
  • Coordinate with physicians and other specialists to formulate and confirm the plan of care for the patient
  • Suggest to family members and friends about the care and support the patient requires

Deciding between a full-time vs freelance occupational therapist

Traditional occupational therapists work full time in hospitals, physical therapy offices, home health care and skilled nursing facilities. They often work for one company, compared to freelance occupational therapists who may work for several different companies and clients. Freelancers work for themselves and find clients on their own. They can work out of an office or travel to meet with patients in their homes.

Freelance occupational therapists may also work as independent contractors in a nonclinical role. Some of the jobs they do include serving as liaisons for inpatient rehab facilities and preservice coordinators for long-term care. If you need an occupational therapist for a short time or the occasional project with varying hours, hiring a freelancer might be the best choice for you. For businesses that require a dedicated staff of one or more occupational therapists, as many nursing facilities and physical therapy centers do, hiring full-time employees may be the better option.

What are the types of occupational therapists?

Occupational therapists have a range of specializations. Some of these include:

  • Physical rehabilitation therapists: Physical rehabilitation therapists help people resume their normal activities after an injury. They also work with individuals who were born disabled or become disabled later in life.
  • Low vision occupational therapists: They work with patients who have low vision due to injury or eye disease. These therapists teach people how to use adaptive equipment and technology to make it easier to navigate the world around them.
  • Mental health occupational therapists: Occupational therapists specializing in this field help people with mental illness avoid relapse of symptoms and teach them methods of self-care.
  • Geriatric occupational therapists: These therapists specialize in working with the elderly, who often have difficulties with the activities of daily living. For people who have suffered a stroke, a geriatric occupational therapist can help them relearn speech, mobility and other vital skills.

Where to find occupational therapists

To find the right occupational therapist for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Tap your local network. Ask other therapists, former and current employees and chapter members of your local AHSA, APTA or AOTA if they know someone who’s looking for an occupational therapist job.
  • Hang a help wanted sign. If your business gets heavy foot traffic, a help wanted sign can be a reliable way to attract interested candidates.
  • Attend a conference or networking event. The AOTA hosts several conferences for occupational therapists throughout the year. These events can be a good way to find job-seeking occupational therapists.
  • Hire a recruiter. Recruiters can help find an occupational therapist for you. They screen potential hires, contact references and ensure a candidate’s licenses and CPR cards are up to date.
  • Post your job online. Try posting your occupational therapist job on Indeed to find and attract quality occupational therapist candidates.

What are the types of occupational therapists?

Occupational therapists have a range of specializations. Some of these include:

  • Physical rehabilitation therapists: Physical rehabilitation therapists help people resume their normal activities after an injury. They also work with individuals who were born disabled or become disabled later in life.
  • Low vision occupational therapists: They work with patients who have low vision due to injury or eye disease. These therapists teach people how to use adaptive equipment and technology to make it easier to navigate the world around them.
  • Mental health occupational therapists: Occupational therapists specializing in this field help people with mental illness avoid relapse of symptoms and teach them methods of self-care.
  • Geriatric occupational therapists: These therapists specialize in working with the elderly, who often have difficulties with the activities of daily living. For people who have suffered a stroke, a geriatric occupational therapist can help them relearn speech, mobility and other vital skills.

Writing an occupational therapist job description

A thoughtful description is important to finding quality occupational therapist candidates. An occupational therapist job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your occupational therapist job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on occupational therapist jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Occupational therapist
  • Occupational therapy
  • Occupational therapy assistant
  • Pediatric occupational therapist
  • COTA
  • Certified occupational therapy assistant
  • Occupational therapist pediatric
  • School occupational therapist
  • OT
  • Occupational therapists

Interviewing occupational therapist candidates

To hire a suitable occupational therapist, take the time to vet candidates and ask detailed interview questions to understand their knowledge and skills.

  • Proficiency in performing a patient assessment and review of their health concerns and records
  • Past experience in advising patients and their relatives on their plan of care to improve their health
  • How they’ve contributed to enhancing the patient care experience by proactively advising patients on their care plan and including family support to improve their health and quality of life

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of occupational therapist interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire an occupational therapist

Is occupational therapy a dying field?

Although there have been changes to Medicare reimbursement for rehabilitation services, the occupational therapy field remains strong. Occupational therapists will always be needed in skilled nursing facilities and other clinical settings.

Where are occupational therapists needed most?

Occupational therapists can find employment almost anywhere, but they have excellent job prospects in major cities, such as Dallas, TX, Las Vegas, NV, San Diego, CA, and Fort Lauderdale, FL.

How many years does it take to become an occupational therapist?

It takes about five to six years to become an occupational therapist. This includes a four-year undergraduate program, plus two to three years of occupational therapy school.

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