To become an occupational therapist, you must complete post-secondary education in social work, psychology, or occupational therapy. These programs are available at colleges, universities, and career colleges. It takes at least two years of formal schooling, in addition to a work experience component. University programs are often four years long, with additional courses available to extend the program to five or six years in length.
An occupational therapist is a trained professional that helps people relearn the basic life skills required to be an independent adult. Seniors and people who have experienced a serious accident, brain injury, or major mental illness often require the services of an occupational therapist. The decision to transition into or out of independent living is based on the patient’s ability to master these skills.
To study occupational therapy, you must have successfully completed courses in math, biology, English, and anatomy. All these courses provide the background necessary to be successful in this field. Gain valuable work experience by volunteering in a rehabilitation hospital, stroke treatment facility, or senior citizens home.
Some states have license requirements for anyone who wants to become an occupational therapist. Candidates must pass a state licensing exam in order to work as an occupational therapist. Learn about the requirements in your state and ensure that you have completed all the educational and experience requirements before you apply.
The role of occupational therapist is central to the rehabilitation of patients and their families after an accident or illness. It is very important to have excellent communication skills, compassion, and patience in this role. Identify a mentor and work with them to learn the correct balance of professional and personal relationships, as you become an occupational therapist.
As you advance in your career as an occupational therapist, stay up to date with the latest technologies and theories by participating in seminars, lectures, and part-time courses. The local association of occupational therapists, treatment hospital, or university often provides these programs. Occupational therapists often find employment with private health plans and insurance companies. Group homes, governments, and social workers rely on them for support, guidance, and information to properly support patients on their road to recovery.
Many people who have experience as personal support workers or nurses make the transition to become an occupational therapist. Apply to the local university or college, and ask for academic credit for any prior education and work experience. This will significantly reduce the number of courses that you will need to take to become an occupational therapist.