Considering a career in health care? Your timing couldn’t be better.
There are plenty of options to choose from. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the Health profession is red-hot and projected to get even hotter from now through at least 2026.
One area that is growing by leaps and bounds is occupational therapy. This growth is fueled largely by expanded health insurance coverage due to the Affordable Care Act as well as an aging population.
So, just what is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help injured, ill, or disabled clients, across the lifespan, participate in the things they want and need to do, through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners work in a variety of settings, including schools, nursing homes, hospitals, rehab clinics and provide in-home services.
“We’ve seen such an increased demand for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants that the number of California schools offering these programs has more than doubled in the last 10 years,” said Heather Martin, Executive Officer of the California Board of Occupational Therapy.
Another factor that is driving the need for occupational therapy practitioners is that the elderly are living longer. Many are choosing to “age in place,” meaning they prefer to stay in their homes and around a natural and familiar environment. An occupational therapist can assist in this area by making safety modifications to their homes to reduce falls and other types of injuries.
REQUIREMENTS NECESSARY TO PRACTICE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY:
- All states require occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to be licensed. Occupational therapists must have a master’s degree for entry-level practice, and occupational therapy assistants must have an associate’s degree. Both must pass a national certification exam to become eligible for licensure.
- The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Occupational Therapy has information available on its website about becoming an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, as well as links to schools offering OT/OTA programs in California.