Occupational Therapist
Bachelors In

Occupational Therapy Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.

Why We Love It

  • $81,690
    Potential Avg. Salary*
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook

* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm for 29-1122 Occupational therapists 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

If you’re interested in working with people who have physical and mental disabilities and teaching them how to overcome those disabilities to live normal lives, then a bachelor of science in occupational therapy might be the right degree for you.

Occupational therapists teach people how to walk after an accident, how to recover movement after a stroke, how to overcome a speech impediment, and more.

What is a Degree in Occupational Therapy?

After suffering from a major injury or health incident, people often lose the ability to function as fully as they did before. They may be suffering from loss of movement, a speech impediment, or even severe depression.

When this happens, an occupational therapist is there to help people through, teaching them how to eat, exercise, and focus to regain movement, overcome disorders, and eradicate depression. In an occupational therapy program, you’ll learn how to help people in a time of great need.

In an occupational therapy program, you’ll study health, behavioral psychology, grief, speech therapy, and physical education courses—among others—that will prepare you to develop customized and effective recovery plans for your patients after graduation.

You’ll also learn about modern disability equipment, allowing you to design home plans for patients that allow them to live normally with a disability. Many students also intern with professional occupational therapists as part of their coursework.

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What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Occupational Therapy?

  • Applied Anatomy & Kinesiology
  • Creativity, Craft, & Activity Analysis
  • Adult Physical Rehabilitation
  • Neuroscience of Behavior
  • Evaluation Process
  • Occupational Analysis & Evaluation
  • Enhancing Human Performance
  • Health Services Administration

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Occupational Therapy?

Demand for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants is expected to skyrocket in the coming decade as a result of the Baby Boomers reaching retirement age. As individuals age, the likelihood of health conditions like osteoporosis and stroke increases.

For this reason, occupational therapists will be in high demand to teach elderly patients how to continue living independently after a debilitating incident or illness and to suggest equipment for the home that enables them to do so.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Occupational Therapy will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at OnlineDegree.com that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Occupational Therapy Degree

Occupational therapy is a good choice for university students who are passionate about supporting vulnerable people. Occupational therapy requires practical training which would be difficult to achieve using online learning. Accordingly, it is more appropriate to enroll into a hybrid learning mode with practical courses taught on campus while theoretical courses are offered online.

There are no accredited online bachelor degree programs according to the Occupational Therapy Accreditation Council. You still need to check the accreditation for other programs as it is essential to get your license for the profession.

What Can You Do With an Occupational Therapy Degree?

Occupational therapy is a branch of healthcare services that is related to maintaining the occupations or other meaningful activities of individuals or groups. Occupational therapists are among allied healthcare professionals. They work with people suffering from mental health problems, injuries, disabilities or impairments.

The American Occupational Therapy Association defines their role as helping people during their lives to perform the things that they want by the therapeutic use of their occupations. Occupational therapists usually work in coordination with other professions like physicians, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, social workers and psychologists.

Examples of occupational therapies include helping students with disabilities participate fully in schools, injury rehabilitation and supporting elderly with the cognitive and physical changes.

What does an occupational therapy student learn?

Occupational therapists should have medical knowledge about the common disabilities or health problems that can affect the daily activities of people. They also learn how to optimize their daily activities to overcome disabilities and related health conditions.

The following list shows the courses commonly offered in occupational therapy degree programs:

  1. Functional anatomy: this course introduces the anatomy of the human body with more focus on the functions of various tissues and organs.
  2. Human development and functioning: this course describes the developmental stages for humans during childhood which is essential for evaluation and providing support to children with mental or physical disabilities.
  3. Health services practice management: the course presents the management aspect related to health services which is important for students who aim at running their own business. This includes working with other healthcare professionals like physicians, nurses and psychiatrists.
  4. Occupational therapy process: the course describes the steps for occupational including the evaluation of disabilities, implementing therapy and monitoring progress.
  5. Occupational therapy process
  6. Psychology: this is important knowledge for efficient interference as injuries, disabilities and impairments can have significant psychological impacts.
  7. Kinesiology: this is the science of the human body movement and exercise and how it affects the human body. This represents a major part of occupational therapy.

Now I have the occupational therapy degree…where can I work after graduating?

Occupational therapy is a professional degree that qualifies you to get your license and work in this field. It is a financially rewarding career and there is growing demand for it.

You can work as an occupational therapist in a variety of work environments:

  1. Hospitals and clinics
  2. Home health services: you will provide support to families that have members suffering from disabilities, impairments or injuries to maintain the normal quality of life.
  3. Child day care services: some of the facilities provide services to children with special needs. These facilities hire occupational therapists to help children function and integrate normally with other children and prepare for school.
  4. Nursing and skilled nursing facilities: nursing facilities provide medical support which includes occupational therapy.
  5. Retirement communities and assisted living facilities: these are residential communities dedicated to retired elders to provide the needed assistance to maintain their quality of life.

Should I choose an occupational therapy degree?

Occupational therapy is a good choice for people who have a passion for helping patients with special needs as those who suffer from injuries, disabilities and impairments. The profession is financially rewarding and graduates can earn more than $100K a year.

Additionally, studying occupational therapy will help you develop a number of important skills:

  1. Communication skills: occupational therapists should have excellent communication skills to help people in need and also communicate effectively with other healthcare professionals who may be involved in the therapy.
  2. Patience: occupational therapy is usually a slow process that takes months to provide significant results. You also need patience and persistence to change people’s behavior.
  3. Empathy to people in need: the core of occupational therapy is to provide for people who have special needs. These people are usually more vulnerable compared to others.
  4. Teamworking skills: occupational therapists work closely with other members of the healthcare team or other care institutes.
  5. Critical thinking and ability to find solutions to problems.

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Best Jobs for Occupational Therapy Degrees

Occupational therapy degree programs most obviously lead to careers as occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants, but it can lead to other types of careers as well.

Graduates should be able to find work in a variety of medical assisting and healthcare admin positions, especially in long-term care administration where the skills of an occupational therapist will soon be in high demand.

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Occupational Therapy degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

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That’s why we created a helpful tool called SmartPlan.

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Earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s Concurrently

To become licensed as a professional occupational therapist, you’ll have to earn a master’s degree in addition to a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, it may be worthwhile for you to look for a program that allows you to earn both at the same time.

Many occupational therapy undergraduate programs offer combined degree opportunities. Requiring only five years of study instead of the six required when earning the degrees separately, this option will save you significant money and get you to work quicker.

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