What does an Occupational Therapist do?

Occupational therapists work with injured, sick, or disabled patients by applying therapeutic properties to everyday activities that treat their patients’ conditions. Patients include children and young adults in educational or clinical settings, where they evaluate disabled children’s abilities and advise on appropriate classroom modifications.

Occupational therapists assist patients recovering from incidents including accidents or illnesses, and they help patients to develop, improve, and maintain the skills they need to go back to their daily living, or to resume normal activity. They also assist patients living with permanent disabilities, including paralysis of cerebral palsy, with plans and tactics that assist them with their daily lives and activities. They provide guidance on using adaptive equipment, including wheelchairs or leg braces, and help achieve progress that allows their patients to function on a more independent basis, and provide consultation. Occupational therapists need a master's degree in occupational therapy and licensing.

What responsibilities are common for Occupational Therapist jobs?
  • Modify the treatment plan according to the patient's responses.
  • Provide treatment in accordance with established standards of practice.
  • Document all care, submit required paperwork on a daily basis.
  • Evaluate and treat patient populations including those with complex therapy needs.
  • Collect client fees and ensure services have prior authorization.
  • Support patients to help them progress towards the targets agreed upon with the occupational therapist.
  • Assist with and participate in quality assurance program as required.
  • Ensure compliance with all community mandatory education, training and competence programs.
  • Direct patient care in outpatient and inpatient setting.
  • Assist in the evaluation of other areas as directed.
  • When appropriate, obtain approval from the supervisor for changes and/or variances.
  • Maintain professional working relationships with all associates, vendors, etc.
  • Communicate with supervisor and other team members regarding patient progress, problems and plans.
  • Communicate with the medical staff, nursing personnel, and other department supervisors.
  • Screen patients based upon identified need per State Practice Act.
  • Provide, recommend and fabricate adaptive devices or other equipment.
  • Assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures.
  • Remain knowledgeable of state practice acts and ensure the level of supervision they receive meets standards.
  • Assist with cleaning maintenance of treatment area and department.
  • Serve as resource for complex diagnoses and care plans.
  • Provide emergency crisis services to assigned caseload as indicated.
  • Keep supervisors informed of patient status, problem areas, progress, etc.,
  • Maintain and adjust schedule to enhance agency performance.
What are the typical qualifications for Occupational Therapist jobs?
  • Bachelor's or Graduate's Degree in general studies and certification to be a physical therapist.
  • Experience with HIPAA protocol and procedures.
  • Able to assist patient with problem-solving using a positive attitude and adaptability.
  • Demonstrated sound decision making and leadership skills.
  • Can utilize critical thinking during exercises and interaction with patients or clients.
  • Will consult with patient or client and document progress in a collaborative and open style.
  • Demonstrated capability with inspiring a variety of patients and clients.
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.5 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.5 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Occupational Therapist Salaries

Average Base Pay

$85,429 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
See More Insights
$65K
Median: $85K
$112K
See More Insights
Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Occupational Therapist Career Path

Learn how to become an Occupational Therapist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

L2
Occupational Therapist
$85,429/yr
L3
L2

Average Years of Experience

0 - 1
19%
2 - 4
13%
5 - 7
1%
8+
67%
Not including years spent in education and/or training
See Career Path

Occupational Therapist Insights

Read what Occupational Therapist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
HopebridgeHopebridge
Occupational Therapist
Apr 14, 2022

“I personally loved my team and felt they were supportive and kind people to work with.”

Perfect PlaygroundPerfect Playground
Occupational Therapist
Jul 2, 2020

“It is a great work environment and I find other therapists fantastic to work with.”

Medical University of South CarolinaMedical University of South Carolina
Certified Recreational Therapist
May 5, 2021

“Patient centered care is what is preached yet everything pumped down the line from administration is not patient centered.”

Select RehabilitationSelect Rehabilitation
Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant
Dec 5, 2020

“So many !! The ridiculous hours productivity no overtime forced to work holidays for straight pay.”

Lighthouse TherapyLighthouse Therapy
Occupational Therapist
Nov 5, 2021

“There is no pressure to carry an overwhelming caseload like I have experienced in other job sites.”

Appleford SchoolAppleford School
Occupational Therapist
Mar 14, 2022

“Limited understanding of the role of therapy within education and the professional obligations and processes which affects therapy delivery and development.”

Triage StaffingTriage Staffing
Occupational Therapist
Jan 13, 2021

“ins and goes above and beyond to get me the best jobs for the best pay!”

Emerge Pediatric TherapyEmerge Pediatric Therapy
Occupational Therapist
Dec 27, 2021

“When I left I was told an exit interview was being scheduled and it never was”

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Occupational Therapist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of occupational therapists

The typical day of an occupational therapist involves helping to rehabilitate patients following an injury or procedure. They may also work with patients with disabilities, helping them find ways to improve motor skills or overcome challenges. In a career as an occupational therapist, you will physically work with patients to strengthen muscles or improve mobility.

The best part about being an occupational therapist is that they're important in helping patients recover or find new ways to accommodate a chronic condition, which can make it a very rewarding career. Becoming an occupational therapist requires a background in anatomy and rehabilitative care. Some therapists may work in a physical therapy center, whereas others may assist patients in their homes.

Working as an occupational therapist can be a physically demanding job, as they may have to assist patients in learning to move again. One challenge of being an occupational therapist is they have to maintain industry knowledge and keep up with training to understand patients' needs.

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Occupational Therapist jobs