In general, what makes a good job great – with money aside? (Occupational therapists make quite good wages in case you are wondering.) Is it the flexibility? The variety? The sense of accomplishment? To help and advocate for others? Your community? In my opinion, occupational therapy and checks all of these boxes.

Flexibility

Want to work on-call or per-diem by blocking out your schedule and come in when there is a need? Occupational therapists can do that. Occupational therapists can have several per-diem jobs to work in different settings and still have a lot of free time. This works well for parents who caregivers for children or adults. Working per-diem allows you the flexibility to work and not be tied down to a 9-5 schedule.

With the Pandemic, some therapists have worked from home remotely and utilized telehealth. Occupational therapists can also do full-time or part-time work, with less flexibility but with the advantage of benefits such as health insurance, retirement, disability insurance. An added perk is as occupational therapists, healthcare workers during the pandemic have received discounts, been allowed to go to the front of the line, or received stuff for free.

Variety

Occupational therapists can see a lot of variety in their job. This may include different health conditions and age groups. Occupational therapists can also work in many different settings and their job is anything but the typical office job. In fact, occupational therapists are on their feet, moving around, and the only time they really sit for an extended amount of time is for documentation or administrative work (rare). Add to this the fact that clients come and go and you always see fresh new faces, and the job is anything but “boring”. If one area of occupational therapy gets “old”, you can transition to another area – pediatrics, adults, mental health, or a specialty such as driver rehab, hand therapy, assistive technology, ergonomics, to name a few. There are many career paths you can take.

Accomplishment and Meaning

Have you ever worked a job where you felt like you were there just to collect a paycheck? Was the job not very challenging? Did it get repetitive? Was there any room for creativity? Were you over-supervised or micromanaged? Even if it checked all of these boxes, did the job you do give you a sense of accomplishment? Did it have a deep meaning, purpose, or even emotion tied to what your hands did and the end-product?

Sure, you may have a manager as an occupational therapist, but for the most part you are quite independent. That’s not to say that you are alone, you may work on an interdisciplinary team and even co-treat with patients. You can be creative and use the latest research to help others and an obvious connection to a sense of accomplishment. Even if clients do not fully recover, you can teach them or their caregivers ways to maximize their independence and live fulfilling lives.

Helping Others

Occupational therapists help others (across the lifespan) overcome a disability or loss in daily function – both mental and physical. Occupational therapists treat with a holistic approach and collaborate with their clients and social system to promote their independence. Although occupational therapists may work with insurance companies in the healthcare system, the actual work they do is functional with real outcomes. Occupational therapists work with their clients do the actual activity. For example, a client who had a stroke may work with an occupational therapist relearn how to wash their car or fold some laundry. And by helping others overcome their disability or loss in function, occupational therapists can see real results right in front of your eyes. It can be very rewarding. Unlike some unhappy you may get say in retail, hospitality, or customer service, clients that you work with are often kind and thankful.

Community

Occupational therapists help their local community. They may even help those far away remotely with telehealth. They work with individuals (clients), their family and support system, AND larger community as a whole. They not only work with these persons, but take into consideration their environment (in context) and the activities they want to resume (their occupations). Occupational therapists may serve the poor, uninsured, and disadvantaged. Some occupational therapists work for the VA with veterans.

Another aspect of community is peer community, as in the occupational therapy community, which is wonderful because it is very supportive. There are local groups, online groups, clubs, conferences, and more. Occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants are here to not only support each other, but also collaborate and consult with other allied health professions!

Commun-OT!

Other Reasons

  • Job growth and demand
  • Science and research-based
  • Collaboration with clients and allied health professionals
  • Low stress
  • Ranked #10 best healthcare job, #19 best job
  • Associates (COTA), Masters, and Doctorate degree options
  • Many areas of specialty and certifications

Next Steps

Check out my online course if you’d like to learn more about the profession with visually-engaging lessons at your own pace – all in one package.

OTDUDE
Jeff is the lead writer for OTDUDE.com and covers all things Occupational Therapy. Buy me a coffee: venmo @otdude