Occupational Therapy Degree Comparison
Bachelor's, Master's, and Online Occupational Therapy Degree Programs
Occupational therapists offer specialized services to restore, maintain or improve the ability of children and adults to perform the daily occupations of life, which may be impaired as a result of injury, illness, social disadvantage or acquired disability. Occupational therapists focus on improving a person’s skills to improve performance in various areas such as productivity, self-care and other leisure activities, thereby improving the overall quality of life.
Occupational therapy, the therapy type that has a patient focusing on actions and behaviors that are part of a normal life, is a very rewarding career choice and is one that can be found in virtually every part of the country. The beginnings of these types of careers are always with a high quality, solid education and a degree from a reputable and highly respected school.
Students are granted an occupational therapy degree after successfully completing a program at a college that offers occupational therapy courses. There are different degrees to consider, including the bachelor’s and master’s. In all cases, the main goal of earning an occupational therapy degree is to prepare for certification and satisfy training requirements.
Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
There are many aspects of the training for occupational therapy that are going to be similar from one degree program to another, and the basics are going to be covered in the bachelor’s degree program. Undergraduate courses typically include psychology and other social sciences. Students are also required to complete a specific number of lab hours. Working as an occupational therapy assistant or performing clinical volunteer work will improve one’s chances of getting into a master’s program.
Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists need a master’s degree in occupational therapy to practice and a bachelor’s degree prior to starting a master’s degree. In addition, the requirements for a master’s degree in occupational therapy include:
- Undergraduate coursework in subjects such as pre-med, biology. Other subjects that students should have completed include organic chemistry, statistics, physics, psychology, anatomy and physiology
- Letters of references
- Satisfactory test scores on the GRE (Graduate Record Exam)
- Work experience in an occupational therapist’s office is highly recommended, but not required by all schools
It is important to evaluate the varying levels of the career of choice, with thought toward the future not only for personal goals but to where the career and profession are heading as well. It is also important to evaluate what level of education is needed for the greatest success in the various areas of the country. Evaluation of the degrees in occupational therapy, bachelor’s and master’s or beyond, should start with the following questions:
- What is the average pay at the bachelor’s degree level versus the master’s level of this profession?
- What is the expected growth rate of the occupational therapy profession?
- What are the additional certificates or licensing requirements needed for each area of this profession?
- In what area of the country is the biggest demand for occupational therapists?
- Are there any differences in the degree programs between a traditional school and an online bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy?
- What kind of timeline is there from start to finish with both the online and the traditional programs?
- Which type of program is most likely to offer job assistance after the degree is earned?
The level of aspiration will determine the level of education and degree that will be needed. Various positions will have their own standards, and the amount of competition for certain jobs in certain locations may drive the need for higher-level degrees. For instance, a job as an occupational therapist in Hawaii will draw more attention and more viable applicants than the same job posting in Alaska simply because of the more desirable location. A higher paying job will have more competition as well, and may automatically set higher standards simply to thin out the job applicant pool.
Online Education is Changing the World of Education, One Degree at a Time
When the first online degrees were offered, they were only available in a limited set of disciplines and only from a few accredited schools. Occupational therapy degrees are now offered by several reputed and accredited schools. Proper research is needed to ensure that all enrollment requirements are met.
Job Opportunities for those with Occupational Therapy Degrees
Occupational therapy job opportunities are diverse and are found in these settings:
- Private practice
- Nursing care facilities
- Public and private educational services
- Home health agencies
- Community care centers
- Outpatient care services
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