Online Occupational Therapy Master's Degree

Overview

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Occupational therapists help patients with injuries and disabilities develop or recover the skills they need to live and work on a daily basis. This may mean helping someone adjust to using a prosthetic limb, teaching parents how to care for a child with cerebral palsy, or running memory drills with an elderly patient.

Students must hold a master’s degree in order to be licensed as an occupational therapist, and most online occupational therapy master’s degree programs are designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in the field. Some online programs offer a dual degree option, so students can earn their bachelor’s and master’s in occupational therapy through an accelerated program.

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Course Work

Example courses
Clinical kinesiology
Ergonomics and assistive technology
Understanding the process of aging
Theoretical perspective of pain
Neuroscience
Hand and upper extremity rehab

The typical curriculum for an online master’s in occupational therapy program includes courses such as neuroscience, rehabilitation science, therapeutic skills and kinesiology, which is the study of human movement.

Since the core role of an occupational therapist is to work with patients to improve physical and mental functions, students earning their master’s in the field must put in face time with patients to hone their skills. In most occupational therapy programs, that means supervised field work at nursing homes, rehab facilities and hospitals.

Students must complete this clinical experience before they apply for licensure through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, a nonprofit credentialing organization.

Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Occupational therapist, individual and family services $64,500
Occupational therapist, hospitals $72,450
Occupational therapist, physical/occupational therapy offices $73,800
Occupational therapist, nursing care facilities $78,400
Occupational therapist, home health care services $79,600

*per the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

An aging baby boomer population means serious job growth for licensed occupational therapists, who often work with elderly patients to manage everything from arthritis to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. More than 36,000 new occupational therapy jobs will be created by 2020, primarily in rehab and orthopedic settings that deal mainly with elderly patients, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The median salary for occupational therapists can range from $64,500 to $79,600, depending on the work setting, with home health care service as the most lucrative career path, according to BLS data.

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