Occupational Therapy vs. Nursing – Career Comparison Table

occupational therapy vs nursing table
Occupational Therapy Nursing
Education Undergrad + 2.5 years Graduate 2 years Associate’s
Min. Degree Required Master’s (Doctorate’s by 2027) Associate (Trending to Bachelor’s)
Avg. Degree Held Master’s Bachelor’s
Min. Tuition Cost $20,000+ $6,000+
Median Annual Salary (2019) $84,950 (OTR/L) $73,300 (RN)
Median Hourly Salary (2019) $40.84 (OTR/L) $35.24 (RN)
By Gender 83.9% Female 86.7% Female
Job Outlook 18% growth 12% growth
Burnout N/A (likely lower) High
No. Jobs (2018) 133,000 3,059,800
By Race 82.7% White, 6.5% Asian, 5.1% Black 63.7% White, 12.2% Hispanic, 10.1 Black, 5.7% Asian
Avg. Age 41.3 42.8
Patient Ratio 1 OT : 1 Patient 1 RN : 1+ Patients
Common Pay Type Hourly Hourly
Avg. Hours Worked 8 hrs/day – 5 days/wk 12 hrs/day – 3 days/wk
Physical Demand High (Patient Transfers) High (Standing, Stooping)
Work Settings Many Many
Workplace Bullying Low Medium-High
Non-clinical Setting Opportunities Many Many
Salary Growth Average Higher than Average
Stress Average-High Higher than Average
COVID Risk High Very High
Benefits Good Good
Patient Responsibility & Risk High Very High
Creativity Higher than average Low
Public Perception & Familiarity Unfamiliar & unknown “What is OT?” Well-known
Pregnancy Risk (Exposure, Injury) Higher than average Very High
Unions Uncommon Yes

Additional Information

Interested in learning more about a career in Occupational Therapy? I made an online course for those considering to become occupational therapists.

If you are interested in a career in Nursing, I made an online course for that too!


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Jeff is a licensed occupational therapist and lead content creator for OT Dude. He covers all things occupational therapy as well as other topics including healthcare, wellness, mental health, technology, science, sociology, and philosophy. Buy me a Coffee on Venmo.