Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapists are concerned with an individual's ability to fully participate in desired life tasks and roles including school and/or work, self-care, and play/leisure, as independently as possible. Using purposeful and age-appropriate activities the occupational therapist assists children with disabilities to achieve important life tasks. Occupational therapists also consult with families, professionals, caregivers, and others to help facilitate the child's growth and development within all of the environments in which children live.

Nature of Work

The occupational therapist role includes:

  • Evaluating performance, identifying deficit and strength areas, evaluate progress.
  • Writing Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and/or Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP).
  • Has a role in the IEP/IFSP meetings.
  • Provides direct services to students, parents and professionals.
  • Maintains accurate files.
  • Collaborates with other professionals.
  • Prepare therapy lessons that help students develop or regain skills to learn, to play and care for themselves.
  • Have knowledge of various disabilities

Education Required

  • A minimum of a bachelor's degree is acceptable by some states however, more colleges and universities are changing to a master's degree program

Certification Required

  • Check your state department of special education, your state board of occupational therapy.

Personal Qualities

  • Must be flexible
  • Enjoy working with school age students and in a school setting.
  • Be a team player
  • Be willing to keep up with the advancements in occupational therapy training

Job Outlook and Advancement

  • Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2006, due to anticipated growth in demand for rehabilitation and long-term care services. (BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook 1998-99).
  • Fast employment growth in schools will result from expansion of the school-age population and extended services for disabled students. (BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook 1998-99)

How to Prepare for a Career

  • Observe or volunteer with an occupational therapist working with students with disabilities.
  • Contact personnel preparation programs for information on course requirements for entering their training programs. Web searches are a great tool!
  • Contact an organization such as: American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) for further career information.
  • Attend an American Occupational Therapy Association national conference (see Resource Information below)

Resource Information

American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
4720 Montgomery Lane
P.O. Box 31220
Bethesda, Maryland 20824-1220
(301) 652-2682