A rehabilitation specialist is a person who helps patients recover and adapt after injury, illness, or a traumatic incident. There are many varieties of rehabilitation specialist, each requiring special training in a particular area of focus. The path to this job depends on the interests, experience, and educational pursuits of the applicant, as well as the current needs of the rehabilitation field.
There are three main types of rehabilitation specialist: physical, psychological, and vocational. These groups, however, are quite broad, and each contains a multitude of specialized professions. For instance, some physical rehab specialists can work with patients who have lost a limb to injury or developed a disabling musculoskeletal disorder, while others help those with language or speech problems due to medical conditions. A vocational therapist may be involved with helping patients with mental illnesses find jobs, or may prefer to work with recovering drug addicts or alcoholics trying to re-enter the work field.
Although these are only a few of the many possible professions available, working to become a rehabilitation specialist almost always starts with a college education. Vocational rehab workers tend to have at least a two year degree in behavioral learning, as well as experience with job placement and employment agencies. Rehabilitation specialists who focus on helping those with mental or psychological problems will typically need an advanced degree in psychology, psychiatry, or behavioral science. Many jobs also require medical training to some degree, although the amount needed can vary greatly from position to position.
Even animal lovers may be able to find satisfying employment by choosing to become an animal rehabilitation specialist. Some veterinarians do not have the time or capability to help animal patients recover from illness or injury, and just as with humans, animals may need careful physical therapy and even behavioral training to adapt to a permanent injury. An animal rehabilitation specialist will typically have some veterinary training, and may need boarding space to provide intensive care to some patients.
Taking related jobs during university may help a person seeking to become a rehabilitation specialist land a position in his or her desired field quickly. Volunteering at medical or rehab clinics, working in job placement agencies, or even taking a secretarial position at a doctor's office can all be helpful in the long run. By showing an ongoing dedication to a particular field, a person can show his sincere interest to potential employers. Choosing even temporary jobs wisely can go a long way to showing both capability and passion for a future permanent job.