Where to go with a degree in occupational therapy


CareerBuilder and the American Staffing Association called occupational therapy one of the hardest-to-fill jobs in the United States. This high demand should make finding a job fairly easy, but first, you have to decide where you want to work. Have you thought about pursuing one of the following career options after you get your degree in occupational therapy?

Get an Advanced Certification

Nationwide, occupational therapists earn $75,000 on average, but you could boost your income if you get certified in a specific area. Extra certifications might make you more valuable to potential employers, which could improve your earning potential. The income boost will depend on the specialty you choose and the demand in the marketplace.

For example, after you have five years of practice experience and 4,000 hours of experience working as a hand therapist, you can take the Hand Therapy Certification Commission’s exam to get certified as a hand therapist. You’ll help people regain motor function in their hands, such as people who have suffered an injury or undergone surgery. After you’re certified, you could work in any clinical environment, from standalone practices to hospitals.

Choose a Specialty

If you’re not sure where you want to go with your occupational therapy degree, stop thinking about the environment and start thinking about the patients with whom you want to work. If you love working with children, you might enjoy a career in pediatric occupational therapy.

The American Occupational Therapy Association calls the pediatric specialty “a key practice area for the 21st century.” You could work in a traditional setting or step outside the clinic to work in a school. Many other specialties exist, from vision impairment and aquatic therapy to mental health and stroke rehabilitation. Think about what ignites your passion as you consider your prospects.

Consult With Seniors

Some occupational therapists don’t work as clinicians at all. If you’re looking for a distinctive approach to your career, consider getting certified as an Aging in Place Specialist. You might work directly with patients to help them meet their goals, but your main focus will involve work in patients’ homes.

Sometimes, seniors need to remodel their homes so that they can live safely by themselves. From installing handrails to changing flooring materials, you’ll show seniors how to take care of themselves at home and reduce risks like falling. You’ll work with builders and designers to create safe homes, and you might consult with assisted living facilities and other group homes.

Prevent Work Injuries

Many companies hire occupational therapists to help them make their workplaces safer. From warehousing and manufacturing to office buildings and industrial complexes, you’ll help employers create ergonomic working conditions for their staff. Work injuries can create joblessness, lawsuits, and many other negative consequences, so you’ll design working conditions that won’t put professionals at risk.

As you can see, an occupational therapy degree doesn’t cage you in professionally. On the contrary, you can use your hard-earned degree to create a career that aligns with your passions, interests, and goals.

This article originally appeared on CareerBuilder. 10/28/16