Occupational Therapy vs. Nursing – Career Comparison 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!


  • bls.gov
  • datausa.io