by Marianne Stephens
What the job is:
- Occupational therapists, depending on the organization they work for, help people deal with injury, illness or health disorders to return back to work or leisure. The activities may vary depending on the age and initial physical condition of the patient. They create individual strategies to help you regain or improve your health.
- There are different fields within this industry, so there are several options for what you want to focus on or what you would like to provide to the public.
Pros of this Job:
- Can be self-employed instead of through a company or a hospital in order to set your own hours.
- Being part of a team dedicated to getting people back into as normal a life as possible.
- Satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a big difference in someone’s life.
- Professional certification is required, and shows the public you are trained and have met a high standard
- High demand for qualified therapists means many job opportunities.
Cons of this Job:
- There are multiple strategies needed in order to help people effectively, and sometimes the first plan does not work and may require long hours of research in order to find the best, most effective plan for the patient.
- There are also evolving technology and strategies, which requires you to keep up to date with new information.
- High education qualifications needed – A Master’s degree plus ongoing training.
- Long periods of physical activity, from walking to standing to sitting, but more variety as compared to other jobs with standing periods.
- The salary starts at $28 per hour, with a high of up to $44 per hour.
- Outlook for the industry is very good, as there’s always a demand.
- These positions are usually full-time positions, but part-time positions do exist.
- Master’s degree required for occupational therapists since 2010 according to the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO).
- Bachelor’s degree required before the Master’s – usually in sociology or biology. (There are other options depending on the Master’s degree programs, so I would consider doing some research first for what school you would like to enroll in for a Master’s, and do some “back” research – i.e. Masters > Bachelors > High school requirements.)
- Membership in the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO) is required, which may be an option through your Master’s degree program of study.
Tips to get started:
- Decide early, since this is an education-heavy career, but rewarding in helping people.
- Volunteer or apprenticeship opportunities may be available; ask if there is a connection you can utilize either through your high school, college or university counselor for advice or questions they may be able to answer.
Other points of interest:
- The industry is generally female according to the Canada Job Bank.
- Creativity is encouraged, as people respond to different strategies, and people have their own personalized recovery or therapy plan.
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