How to Choose a Master’s in Occupational Therapy Degree

The purpose of this article is to explain to you why you should consider getting your online master’s degree in occupational therapy. This article will tell you the type of classes you will study in this master’s program, the advantages of working in occupational therapy, and good online occupational therapy programs you may want to attend.

What Is a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy?

A master’s degree in occupational therapy provides you with the skills to treat ill, injured or disabled patients and to help them via therapeutic uses of everyday activities. The purpose of an occupational therapy degree is so that you have the expertise to help patients to develop, recover and improve the skills that are needed for living and working independently.

In your occupational therapy degree program, you will learn the skills to handle the following duties:

  • Go over the medical history of the patient, ask questions and observe the patients doing various daily living tasks
  • Evaluate the condition and needs of the patient
  • Come up with a treatment plan for each patient
  • Help each patient with different types of disabilities with various life tasks, such as helping a stroke victim to be able to eat or get dressed
  • Evaluate the workplace or home of a patient and identify places that can be improved.
  • Recommend any special type of equipment, including wheelchairs and eating aids, that can be helpful to the patient

Typical subject areas that you will study in an occupational therapy degree program include the following:

  • Theories of Occupational Therapy
  • Occupational Performance in Adults and Adolescents
  • Medical Conditions
  • Development of a Therapeutic Self
  • Introduction to OT Practice
  • Occupational Performance in Children
  • Contexts of Occupational Therapy Practice
  • Assistive Technologies

The majority of master’s programs take two or three years to finish. Some experienced OTs may decide eventually to earn their doctoral degree, which takes another three years or so. You may be able to attend a dual degree program where you can even earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years.

Why Earn a Master’s in Occupational Therapy?

The field of occupational therapy is known to be growing very quickly. According to government statistics, it is anticipated that the field will see a 27% increase in jobs by 2024. This is much faster than average. This is occurring because occupational therapy is growing in importance to treat older Americans with various illnesses and disabilities. Some of these include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cerebral palsy.

It is anticipated that the need for more occupational therapists will rise as more Americans are going into their retirement years yet are still wanting to live active lives.

Occupational therapists are important because they can help senior citizens to keep their independence by advising about which home modifications to make and how to make daily living activities easier. These therapists play a vital role in treating many illnesses and conditions that are related to aging, such as stroke and arthritis.

High Salary Potential

Because of the high job demand in occupational therapy, you will be able to look forward to a high salary: $80,150 is the median wage according to BLS. OTs who work in nursing homes will earn the highest wage at $89,000 per year.

Licensure and Certification

All OTs in all states must be licensed. While your licensing requirements will vary by each state, all OT graduates must pass the national examination that is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy or NBCOT.

To qualify for the examination, you must have at least an associate’s degree in occupational therapy. To qualify to take the OTR examination, you must have a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

Online Master’s in Occupational Therapy Degree Options

If you are interested in a career in occupational therapy, be sure to consider the following educational options:

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers a high quality occupational therapy degree that may be earned partially online. The curriculum in this two year master’s program features classes, labs and internships that are strongly based upon the belief that occupational therapy can be used to keep people healthy, continue to participate in life and to feel good about themselves.

This occupational therapy program includes these areas of knowledge:

  • Integrating knowledge from arts/sciences
  • Assessing and treatment patients in a way that matches both their needs and goals
  • Promoting health by helping people to continue to live on their own
  • Practice in many different settings with people of all ages, whether they have a disability/illness or not

With all of this knowledge, all graduates from this OT program will become very keen practitioners and observers, critical thinkers in occupational therapy and also practical educators.

All students in this program will participate in at least six clinical experiences in the last year of the curriculum. This will give all students a great amount of occupational therapy practice and the chance to network with a minimum of six employers and facilities.

Shenandoah University

Shenandoah University offers a 75 credit master’s in science in occupational therapy that is delivered partially online. Students are required to attend their classes on campus one day per week, and field experiences are done on days when you are not on campus. Also, students are required to engage in hands on internships in their local areas.

The learning model of this three year program requires all OT students to be able to think critically and to act professionally as they solve complex occupational therapy challenges. All of the graduates of this program will enter the OT field as a highly skilled and compassionate professional.

Required classes include:

  • Foundations Of Occupational Therapy
  • Therapeutic Occupation
  • Occupation And Movement
  • Fundamentals Of Scholarly Inquiry
  • Foundational Case Groups I
  • Community Application With Individuals
  • Scholarly Inquiry: Design And Analysis
  • Neuro-occupation
  • Analysis Of Health And Occupation
  • Management And Systems In Ot Settings
  • Foundational Case Groups
  • Community Application In Systems

Other key parts of this program:

  • Approximately 50% of your classes may be taken online
  • Full time and part time programs available
  • Graduates can start out earning up to $60,000 per year
  • 98% licensure passage rate
  • Each student has at least one faculty mentor

Accreditation

It is important for the master’s degree program that you are considering to be accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association or AOTA. When you and your potential employers see this accreditation, you can be sure that the program is of the highest quality.

Summary

Earning a master’s degree in occupational therapy will provide you with the skills and education to enjoy an exciting career with a high amount of job demand and good pay.

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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