Several circumstances can prevent people to do the things they normally did in their everyday life.
A large variety of causes can make them less independent than they were before.
In these cases, there is the need to find a professional that can offer the best possible therapy for each person and each circumstance.
In the next few sections, we’ll discuss the most important facts about Occupational Therapists, how to become one and how much it costs.
Table of Contents
- What Is Occupational Therapy?
- What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
- What Is the Difference Between an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist?
- What Do I Need to Become an Occupational Therapist?
- How Long Does It Take to Become an Occupational Therapist?
- How Much Does It Cost to Become an Occupational Therapist?
What Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy focuses on helping people that have problems to perform any kind of activities of their everyday life, such as taking care of themselves, moving around, doing household chores, do their job or schoolwork.
As mentioned earlier, this could be a consequence of an illness, an injury from an accident, advanced age, severe pain, mental health conditions, or even a disability that is now affecting that person’s life.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
An Occupational Therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional that has been trained to assist a person on how to adapt to the new situation that the affected person is experiencing.
Among the most common duties OTs have, are to observe and evaluate the needs of each patient, create a specific treatment according to their needs, teach the patient how to execute the tasks they are having problems with, and check the house and/or workplace of the patient to see if it can be improved.
What Is the Difference Between an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist?
There has been some confusion between these two professions since they help people to recover movement and regain some of their previous physical skills.
However, a Physical Therapist tends to concentrate more on the physical, mechanical part of the human body that is affecting the person’s mobility.
An Occupational Therapist focuses on how to adjust to the new circumstance the person is living, modify the environment, and even include tools that will assist that person in becoming as independent as possible.
What Do I Need to Become an Occupational Therapist?
You will first need to obtain an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, and pass an exam to get state licensure.
You will need a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Health Sciences, Psychology, or another related area.
If you already have a Bachelor’s degree that doesn’t include any of the subjects you need to become an Occupational Therapist, you will then need to take prerequisite courses in order to apply for a postgraduate degree.
A Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy is mandatory to later become an Occupational Therapist.
The most common degrees are Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.
Even though it’s not necessary, you could still pursue a Doctoral program in Occupational Therapy.
These programs are generally for those who aspire to get a more profound knowledge of the discipline, do research or stay in education.
After obtaining your postgraduate degree, you will have to apply and pass the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.
Once you have passed the NBCOT examination, you will have to apply for your license in the state where you want to work.
Every state has different requirements, so it’s important to check first what you need.
After gaining your license, you can start working as an Occupational Therapist.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Occupational Therapist?
A Master’s degree usually takes between two and three years to complete, depending on the program you choose.
A Doctoral degree is usually three years if you decide to obtain this degree.
Counting the years you spend on your undergraduate degree, it could take between six and nine years to become an Occupational Therapist.
How Much Does It Cost to Become an Occupational Therapist?
The cost of gaining a Master’s degree, which is the most common postgraduate degree to become an Occupational Therapist, is going to depend mostly on the type of program you choose and the city where you wish to study.
On average, you could spend between $5,000 and $25,000, although some programs can cost from $35,000 to $86,000.
The NBCOT Exam online application can cost $515, or $555 if it’s a paper application.
The application fees for state licensure vary according to the state where you want to apply.