Occupational therapy is a health and rehabilitation profession that helps people function independently. You will work with people who, because of illness, injury, or developmental or psychological impairment, need help to learn, or re-learn, life skills. You will help them lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives.
Occupational therapy can prevent injury or the worsening of existing conditions or disabilities. It promotes independent functioning in individuals who may otherwise need institutionalization or long-term care. Occupational therapy keeps health care costs down and maximizes the quality of life for the individual, their family, and other caregivers.
You can practice Occupational therapy as a licensed Occupational Therapist (Master's degree) or an Occupational Therapist Assistant (two-year associates degree).
If you have questions, contact the William & Mary Pre-OT advisors, [[rwmcco, Prof. Ray McCoy]] or [[enburnet, Prof. Evie Burnet]].
The major types of work are:
- clinical work (direct patient care),
- administration, and
Occupational Therapists work in
- utpatient rehabilitation facilities,
- community clinics,
- long-term care facilities,
- early intervention programs,
- home health programs,
- hospice programs,
- university clinics,
- private practice, and
- community outreach programs.
Occupational therapists serve a wide variety of clients/patients in multiple settings. This brings a wide variety of employment opportunities to graduates. The field is expected to grow much faster than average, which means a projected growth rate of over 23% between 2016-2026.
There are more than 130,000 occupational therapy practitioners in the U.S. today with a median salary of $83,200. Salary depends on the job position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location and practice setting.
Preparing for Graduate School
There are several steps for admission into an accredited occupational therapy program:
- Contact OT education programs to learn about required prerequisites
- Volunteer in an occupational therapy office or department for at least 60 hours
- Find an occupational therapist mentor who can introduce you to other people in the field
- Complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) before your senior year
- Learn about the profession and available degrees. There are programs that offer an Associates degree, Master's or Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. Learn what it takes to be a strong candidate for the profession, and take steps to strengthen your qualifications. You need to be able to promote yourself in your application essays.
Prerequisite Courses for OT graduate school
The exact prerequisite courses vary slightly for some graduate schools. It is important for you to research potential graduate schools during your sophomore or junior year. This will give you time to complete these courses. The list below contains the most common prerequisite courses:
Most schools require 8 credits in Biology, including
- 4 credits of Human Anatomy
- KINE 303: Human Anatomy
- KINE 314 or 315, Human Anatomy Laboratory
- 4 credits of Human Physiology
- KINE 304/305: Human Physiology/Lab
Exercise physiology courses do not fulfill this requirement.
Most Occupational Therapy graduate programs require 6 credits of English Composition and/or writing intensive courses. William & Mary freshman seminars and writing courses in your major should meet this requirement.
You should take one, three-credit course in Statistics. W&M has several courses that could satisfy this:
- KINE 394, Statistics and Evaluation, or
- PSYC 301 and 302, Elementary Statistics and Experimental Methods, or
- MATH 106, Elementary Probability and Statistics
Most graduate programs in Occupational Therapy ask that you have taken 15 credits in social science courses. Typical requirements include
- Developmental Psychology or Life Span Development course(s)
- PSYC 310: Developmental Psychology
- Abnormal psychology
- PSYC 318: Abnormal Psychology
- Other Psychology, Sociology, or Anthropology courses
- PSYC 202: Introduction to Psychology as a Social Science is a prerequisite of the previous two courses and could count towards this.
A medical terminology course is recommended, but not required.
Some graduate schools accept substitute courses for some of the prerequisite courses. Contact the admissions office of possible programs for specific information.
- American Occupational Therapy Association - Nationally recognized professional association for occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students of occupational therapy.
- Virginia Occupational Therapy Association