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How to Get a Job as an Occupational Therapist

The diversity of the field makes choosing a specialization early important for occupational therapists. “The most important thing a person coming out of school can do is know where their personal professional passion lies,” says Maureen Freda Peterson, chief professional affairs officer for the American Occupational Therapy Association. “It’s extremely important that they are looking for something that excites them professionally.” Peterson emphasizes finding a niche within the field because specialized skills and passion for their work help aspiring occupational therapists stand out among the crowd of candidates.

The need for occupational therapists is expected to increase as baby boomers age and strive to maintain their independence and physical health. So on the job hunt, zone in on acute hospital, rehabilitation and orthopedic settings, which provide services for the elderly.

Interview Questions Submitted by Real Occupational Therapists

"Describe 'functional' and what it means to you in terms of treatment." - Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital Occupational Therapist Candidate (Location Unknown)

"How do you handle a client who is aggressive and confused?" - Northridge Hospital Medical Center Occupational Therapist I Candidate (Location Unknown)

"Would I be willing to travel on occasion to help cover at other facilities if another therapist was sick or on vacation?" - Aegis Therapy Occupational Therapist Candidate (Sioux City, IA)

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level fair Average
Flexibility fair Average

What is the Job Like?

While the work is often tiring because occupational therapists are on their feet a significant portion of the day and, at times, may have to lift clients and equipment, the stress of the job varies depending on the work setting. This potential for on-the-job stress can be mitigated, Peterson says. "If you are in a setting that meets your professional needs and are passionate about the work, that can help reduce stress. Being busy doesn't always equal stress." She says that in a traditional setting—working for an employer instead of running your own business—most therapists work 40 hours per week and maintain a stable schedule.

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Last updated by Stephanie Steinberg.

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