Working as an occupational therapist can be a very satisfying career, and it can also be financially rewarding. An occupational therapist might spend a typical day helping an athlete recover after a sports injury, helping an elderly woman relearn to walk after a hip replacement surgery or teaching a disabled man to overcome his physical limitations in order to walk and live normally. While there are many clear advantages to working as an occupational therapist, there are also a lot of hurdles to clear before you can begin this career. Here are the major steps in becoming an occupational therapist.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in a Related Field
The first step toward becoming an occupational therapist is earning a bachelor’s degree. If you are unsure of the direction you want your career to go, this is a great opportunity to take a few classes in related subjects and figure out if this is really your passion. Many successful occupational therapists actually earned their bachelor’s degrees in subjects as varied as biology, sociology or health care. Students should expect to complete their bachelor’s degrees in roughly four years. It is entirely possible to earn the bachelor’s degree online, and doing so can be a great way to fit education into your already busy life.
Earn a Master’s Degree
After completing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy. This two-year course program will teach students everything that they need to know about rehabilitation techniques, new forms of technology that can speed along recovery and the specifics of anatomy and physiology. Aspiring occupational therapists who want to apply for a master’s degree should be aware that admittance to the top programs is competitive. In order to be admitted, you should aim to have some work experience in the health care industry, have an excellent grade point average for your undergraduate degree and be able to provide written educational, employment or character references.
Fieldwork is the stage where occupational therapists get hands-on experience in the field. They might work in nursing homes, in hospitals or even in private practices, and their primary duty will be to assist the existing occupational therapists during their daily tasks. Fieldwork can take as little as three months or as long as a full year, but the average duration is just over six months. In many cases, the fieldwork is part of the master’s degree program and will be organized through the college.
Become Licensed and Registered in Your State
Even after you have learned how to become an occupational therapist, you will need to be licensed before you can begin working. After passing the exam by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, you can register in your state and legally begin working as an occupational therapist.
To get on the track toward becoming an occupational therapist, visit one of the many excellent accredited online colleges and pick a bachelor’s degree program in a related subject. You’ll find many options at www.accredited-online-colleges.com to help you reach your ultimate goals.