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Occupational Therapist Salary

Occupational Therapist Salary: Know How Much They Earn

The job of an occupational therapist is quite challenging, but it scores high in terms of job satisfaction. This CareerStint article provides information on the factors affecting the salary of an occupational therapist.
Aakash Singh
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 29% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Occupational therapists (OTs) help improve the quality of life, health, function, and occupational performance of individuals who are affected by a physical or cognitive disability, mental illness, psychosocial dysfunction, developmental disorder, maladaptive behavior, etc. They encourage the patient to participate in day-to-day activities, helping them develop skills and overcome disability or activity limitations that might be caused by an illness, accident, developmental disorder, or aging.

An occupational therapist must be patient and determined, as he needs to work closely with people. OTs work with young children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. They might work in hospitals, clinics, community centers, nursing homes, educational institutions, social services, GP practices/primary care, etc. The job prospects of occupational therapists are good. The salary of an occupational therapist would vary, depending on the work setting, years of experience, demographics, certification, ability to travel, etc.

Salary Range

Median annual wage for occupational therapists was USD 75,400 in 2012. The lowest 10% earned less than USD 50,500, and the highest 10% earned more than USD 107,070. In 2012, the median annual wages in nursing and personal care facilities, hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, and elementary and secondary schools were USD 83,430, USD 75,140, USD 77,430, and USD 66,610, respectively.

According to BLS, the median annual salary for occupational therapists was USD 76,940 in 2013. The top 10% earned more than USD 109,380, while the bottom 10% made less than USD 51,310.

Occupational therapists working for home health care services are generally compensated very well. The top paying industries for the occupation of occupational therapists included:

Home Health Care Services
Other Ambulatory Health Care Services
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)
Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly
Offices of Other Health Practitioners

The industries with the highest concentration of employment included:

Offices of Other Health Practitioners
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
Home Health Care Services
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

States with the highest employment level in this occupation included:

New York

According to BLS (Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014), the mean annual wage for OTs was USD 57,260, whereas the mean hourly wage was USD 27.53. While the highest 10% earned more than USD 76,690, the lowest 10% earned less than USD 36,420. The median annual wages in the top paying industries such as home health care services, other ambulatory health care services, nursing care facilities, and continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly, and offices of other health practitioners were USD 67,180, USD 63,760, USD 60,790, USD 59,330, and USD 59,000, respectively. The following table provides the estimated annual salary in different states.
Alabama USD 88,000
Alaska USD 64,000
Arizona USD 71,000
Arkansas USD 88,000
California USD 93,000
Colorado USD 77,000
Connecticut USD 100,000
Delaware USD 76,000
District of Columbia USD 109,000
Florida USD 81,000
Georgia USD 99,000
Hawaii USD 53,000
Idaho USD 57,000
Illinois USD 98,000
Indiana USD 83,000
Iowa USD 85,000
Kansas USD 79,000
Kentucky USD 75,000
Louisiana USD 77,000
Maine USD 77,000
Maryland USD 89,000
Massachusetts USD 104,000
Michigan USD 87,000
Minnesota USD 76,000
Mississippi USD 91,000
Missouri USD 85,000
Montana USD 72,000
Nebraska USD 63,000
Nevada USD 66,000
New Hampshire USD 85,000
New Jersey USD 93,000
New Mexico USD 75,000
New York USD 105,000
North Carolina USD 83,000
North Dakota USD 77,000
Ohio USD 83,000
Oklahoma USD 80,000
Oregon USD 84,000
Pennsylvania USD 84,000
Rhode Island USD 79,000
South Carolina USD 85,000
South Dakota USD 65,000
Tennessee USD 80,000
Texas USD 84,000
Utah USD 67,000
Vermont USD 76,000
Virginia USD 87,000
Washington USD 89,000
West Virginia USD 82,000
Wisconsin USD 77,000
Wyoming USD 71,000
Job Description

OTs help the patient develop, recover, or improve skills that are needed for performing day-to-day activities. After evaluating the client's environment (home, school, workplace, etc.), the occupational therapist comes with an individualized plan regarding the changes that need to be made in the environment. He/she guides and educates the family members or caregivers. His/her main task is to focus on their client's needs, and come up with a plan to help the client overcome his/her disability. They train the client to do various tasks in order to make him/her independent.

In case of children with disabilities, OTs help the child participate in activities at school. He/she trains the child to react properly in social situations. In case of individuals who have met with an accident, the goal is to help the client regain or recover the lost skills or function. They help them perform physical exercises which help increase their strength and endurance. OTs also provide care for older adults who are affected by age-related disorders.

They help the client perform daily tasks, be it at home or office. The goal of these therapists is to let their patients acquire a sense of independence and satisfaction with their lives. It appears to be a very challenging job as OTs have to make themselves available as the only support for the patients.

Since OTs are required to give the much-needed support to their clients, it becomes important for these therapists to be physically, emotionally, and mentally fit. OTs also need to evaluate the client's condition, and change the plan, if the outcome is not as expected.
On a concluding note, the salary of an occupational therapist depends on varied factors such as the demographics, work settings, additional training, years of experience, etc. OTs who are licensed with the state's certifying board or OTs who are registered with the national accrediting body, can expect to earn more. Also, OTs who wish to work as assistive technology professionals can improve their job prospects by choosing certifications in CPR and Basic Life Support. Similarly, to become a certified hand therapist, one can take the Hand Therapy Certification Examination that is administered by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission. Thus, occupational therapy can be a financially rewarding career.