How to Become a Pediatric Therapist

Pediatric Therapist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $84,710
Avg. Pay / hour $40.73
Education 2-3 Years
Job Outlook 22%

Pediatric Therapists specialize in providing physical therapy services to children.

These professionals should be accustomed to and enjoy working with young patients in a variety of settings.

Pediatric Therapists can provide their services to their patients in either an outpatient or inpatient setting.

For outpatient visits, Pediatric Therapists often visit their patients at their home.

A Pediatric Therapist is a professional who has met all the requirements under an Occupational Therapy specialty.

There is a specific route a candidate needs to take in order to become a Pediatric Therapist that includes securing licensure.

A Pediatric Therapist’s goal is to improve the health of an infant, child or adolescent and may sometimes work in conjunction with a Pediatrician or other licensed professional.

These professionals will work with children that may have a condition that prevents them from doing things that are considered ordinary.

Pediatric Therapists can work with child patients who have been diagnosed with the following disorders:

  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Torticollis
  • Spina Bifida
  • Developmental delays

Those who want to become a Pediatric Therapist need natural skills such as working with children and their parents and great communication skills.

These professionals also need to be trained and educated regarding the skeletal and muscular systems.

The educational route that a potential Pediatric must take is outlined below.

Education Requirements to Become a Pediatric Therapist

In order to become a Pediatric Therapist, candidates need to attend an accredited college institution to earn a Bachelor’s then a Master’s degree.

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accredits over 293 Occupational Therapy programs.

Visit their website to learn more information about their accredited programs: ACOTE Accredited Programs.

After completing an accredited program, candidates need to take and pass a national licensure exam in order to work in this field.

Students should focus their undergraduate careers on majors such as Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Anatomy or Biology.

Students should gain an understanding of the human body and grasp basic concepts regarding diseases or disorders.

After completion of a Bachelor’s degree, candidates can start applying to programs accredited by ACOTE.

During their time in a Master’s program, students should choose their focus in Pediatric Therapy where they will learn many techniques and practices to implement in their practice.

Pediatric Therapists must be licensed in order to work in their field.

A national license exam is available through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy NBCOT.

Visiting their website will give students detailed information regarding services they provide.

Pediatric Therapist Job Description

A Pediatric Therapist can treat their patients as either outpatients or inpatients.

Depending on the organization they work for, a Pediatric Therapist can treat their patients at either an inpatient facility, such as a clinic or as outpatients.

Home health care companies provide services that require a Pediatric Therapist to visit a patient’s home in order to treat them.

A Pediatric Therapist can work with many children who have different symptoms and disorders.

They can also work with children who have been in an accident or have gone through surgery and need specialized treatment to help them improve.

A Pediatric Therapist will be responsible for learning about new patients and creating a treatment plan that will help a child become more mobile.

For established patients, they will follow an established plan and make adjustment depending on the patient’s progress.

Additionally, Pediatric Therapists will collaborate with a patient’s primary doctor or involved medical personnel in order to determine the best treatment and communicate progress or problems.

They may also establish relationships with parents and keep them updated on a young patient’s progress.

Pediatric Therapist Salary and Career Path

The employment rate for all Occupational Therapists looks strong through the year 2018.

Although Occupational Therapists specializing in treating the elderly is the fastest growing specialty, Pediatric Therapists should expect a healthy job market.

In addition, Occupational Therapists are increasingly required to take on more responsibilities such as supervising their aides and assistants.

They can excel in their field by managing colleagues or taking on administrative duties.

The national median wage for all Occupational Therapists is approximately $66,700 annually.

The salary range for this occupation begins at approximately $42,800 to $98,300 depending on the specialty and industry.

Professionals who work in a school setting earn less than a therapist who works for a home health care service organization.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$90,150
New Hampshire$82,820
New Jersey$100,140
New Mexico$95,060
New York$93,190
North Carolina$83,580
North Dakota$71,340
Rhode Island$92,510
South Carolina$88,180
South Dakota$76,330
West Virginia$81,860
Puerto Rico$43,110

The top earning state in the field is Nevada, where the average salary is $109,010.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Nevada - $109,010
California - $105,760
New Jersey - $100,140
Texas - $96,100
New Mexico - $95,060
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Occupational Therapists, OCC Code 29-1122, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a pediatric therapist do?

Pediatric therapists provide services for special needs children in the home and clinical settings.

They may specialize in a specific field, such as physical therapy, or occupational therapy.

Their aim is to help children recover after an accident, illness or surgery.

Pediatric therapists may also use special equipment and exercises and usually they coordinate the therapy with other medical professionals.

Most pediatric therapists work full time and they may also work overtime to accommodate patients’ needs.

As a pediatric therapist, you will need many skills, including patience, compassion and communication skills.

How much does a pediatric therapist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapists, in general, was $84,270, as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary depending on a wide range of factors; some therapists earned less than $60,000 while others make more than $120,000 a year.

According to physical therapists earned a median annual wage of $87,930, as of May 2018.

How much does it cost to become a pediatric therapist?

Educational requirements vary depending on the state and the employer.

Pediatric therapists usually hold a master’s degree in occupational or physical therapy and are specialized in pediatric therapy.

A master’s degree in occupational therapy can cost anywhere between $15,000 and more than $70,000, depending on the university you choose and the program itself.

Before applying for a graduate program in occupational or physical therapy you will typically need a bachelor’s degree.

A four-year college program costs, on average, less than $10,000 for in-state students; programs at private colleges cost, on average, more than $30,000.

What is the demand for pediatric therapists?

The employment outlook depends on the specialty you choose.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for occupational therapists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, while employment for physical therapists is expected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Pediatric therapists will be needed in a variety of healthcare settings but also in schools, in order to assist children with an autism spectrum disorder.

How long does it take to become a pediatric therapist?

Pediatric therapists need a master’s degree in occupational therapy or physical therapy, which can usually be obtained in 2-3 years.

In order to enroll in a graduate program, you have to graduate from a four-year college.

Graduate programs also require at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork.

All states require physical and occupational therapists to be licensed; in order to get your license, you must pass a national exam held by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

A specialty certification offered by the American Occupational Therapy Association may also help you prove your creadentials to a potential employer.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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