What does an Occupational Therapist do?

Occupational therapists work with injured, sick, or disabled patients by applying therapeutic properties to everyday activities that treat their patients’ conditions. Patients include children and young adults in educational or clinical settings, where they evaluate disabled children’s abilities and advise on appropriate classroom modifications.

Occupational therapists assist patients recovering from incidents including accidents or illnesses, and they help patients to develop, improve, and maintain the skills they need to go back to their daily living, or to resume normal activity. They also assist patients living with permanent disabilities, including paralysis of cerebral palsy, with plans and tactics that assist them with their daily lives and activities. They provide guidance on using adaptive equipment, including wheelchairs or leg braces, and help achieve progress that allows their patients to function on a more independent basis, and provide consultation. Occupational therapists need a master's degree in occupational therapy and licensing.

What responsibilities are common for Occupational Therapist jobs?
  • Modify the treatment plan according to the patient's responses.
  • Provide treatment in accordance with established standards of practice.
  • Document all care, submit required paperwork on a daily basis.
  • Evaluate and treat patient populations including those with complex therapy needs.
  • Collect client fees and ensure services have prior authorization.
  • Support patients to help them progress towards the targets agreed upon with the occupational therapist.
  • Assist with and participate in quality assurance program as required.
  • Ensure compliance with all community mandatory education, training and competence programs.
  • Direct patient care in outpatient and inpatient setting.
  • Assist in the evaluation of other areas as directed.
  • When appropriate, obtain approval from the supervisor for changes and/or variances.
  • Maintain professional working relationships with all associates, vendors, etc.
  • Communicate with supervisor and other team members regarding patient progress, problems and plans.
  • Communicate with the medical staff, nursing personnel, and other department supervisors.
  • Screen patients based upon identified need per State Practice Act.
  • Provide, recommend and fabricate adaptive devices or other equipment.
  • Assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures.
  • Remain knowledgeable of state practice acts and ensure the level of supervision they receive meets standards.
  • Assist with cleaning maintenance of treatment area and department.
  • Serve as resource for complex diagnoses and care plans.
  • Provide emergency crisis services to assigned caseload as indicated.
  • Keep supervisors informed of patient status, problem areas, progress, etc.,
  • Maintain and adjust schedule to enhance agency performance.
What are the typical qualifications for Occupational Therapist jobs?
  • Bachelor's or Graduate's Degree in general studies and certification to be a physical therapist.
  • Experience with HIPAA protocol and procedures.
  • Able to assist patient with problem-solving using a positive attitude and adaptability.
  • Demonstrated sound decision making and leadership skills.
  • Can utilize critical thinking during exercises and interaction with patients or clients.
  • Will consult with patient or client and document progress in a collaborative and open style.
  • Demonstrated capability with inspiring a variety of patients and clients.
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.5 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.4 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does an Occupational Therapist make?

$95,776 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Occupational Therapist Career Path

Learn how to become an Occupational Therapist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Occupational Therapist
Senior Occupational Therapist
Occupational Therapist

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Occupational Therapist Insights

Read what Occupational Therapist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Occupational Therapist
Apr 14, 2022

“I personally loved my team and felt they were supportive and kind people to work with.”

Health Bound Health NetworkHealth Bound Health Network
Occupational Therapist
Dec 26, 2022

“I was provided with highly relevant and beneficial professional development opportunities via virtual education from experts in the field.”

FOX RehabilitationFOX Rehabilitation
Occupational Therapist
Jul 20, 2022

“My schedule changes based on when I have childcare and that means I can work for weekends if I need too which is great!”

Associates in Pediatric TherapyAssociates in Pediatric Therapy
Occupational Therapist
Sep 6, 2022

“APT also offer a mentorship program that was really helpful when I was starting out as a new therapist.”

Orthopaedic & Neurological RehabilitationOrthopaedic & Neurological Rehabilitation
Occupational Therapist
Jul 22, 2022

“Increased hourly rate compared to my last job however my yearly salary is significantly less.”

Medical University of South CarolinaMedical University of South Carolina
Certified Recreational Therapist
May 5, 2021

“Patient centered care is what is preached yet everything pumped down the line from administration is not patient centered.”

Lighthouse TherapyLighthouse Therapy
Occupational Therapist
Nov 5, 2021

“There is no pressure to carry an overwhelming caseload like I have experienced in other job sites.”

Select RehabilitationSelect Rehabilitation
Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant
Dec 5, 2020

“So many !! The ridiculous hours productivity no overtime forced to work holidays for straight pay.”

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Occupational Therapist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of occupational therapists

The typical day of an occupational therapist involves helping to rehabilitate patients following an injury or procedure. They may also work with patients with disabilities, helping them find ways to improve motor skills or overcome challenges. In a career as an occupational therapist, you will physically work with patients to strengthen muscles or improve mobility.

The best part about being an occupational therapist is that they're important in helping patients recover or find new ways to accommodate a chronic condition, which can make it a very rewarding career. Becoming an occupational therapist requires a background in anatomy and rehabilitative care. Some therapists may work in a physical therapy center, whereas others may assist patients in their homes.

The average salary for an occupational therapist is $95,776 per year, but this may vary based on experience and certifications. Occupational therapists with more training, specialized certifications, or specific medical knowledge of common conditions may earn up to $154,562 per year.

Working as an occupational therapist can be a physically demanding job, as they may have to assist patients in learning to move again. One challenge of being an occupational therapist is they have to maintain industry knowledge and keep up with training to understand patients' needs.

Related Careers

25% skills overlap
Outpatient Therapist
13% skills overlap
Mental Health Therapist
13% skills overlap
Behavior Therapist
No skills overlap

Occupational Therapist Jobs