The study of Occupational Therapy provides students with a pathway to a career helping people lead a healthy and meaningful life. An Occupational Therapy course will help you learn how to modify the occupation or environment of a patient – at home or in the workplace – to better support their occupational needs, health and wellbeing.
Subjects studied in Occupational Therapy courses could look at: systematic, regional, neuro and applied anatomy; health and illness; mental health and an introduction to psychology; ergonomics; clinical occupational therapy practice and; communication skills.
What do occupational therapy graduates do?
Occupational therapy course students usually work as occupational therapists. An occupational therapist works with people who have experienced injury, illness or disability, to help those people engage meaningfully in everyday life, and to achieve independence, satisfaction, and personal wellbeing. Occupational therapists usually perform three roles with a client:
- Conducting an individual evaluation, to determine the client’s capacity and goals;
- Designing customised interventions for the client, in order to improve their ability to accomplish tasks and achieve their goals; and
- Conducting an outcomes evaluation to track progress against goals and ensure the intervention plan is working effectively.
In performing these tasks, an occupational therapist may visit the client’s home to observe and assess their environment, talk to the client and their family, perform exercises and activities with the client, recommend and supply items to assist the client in achieving their goals, and maintain written documentation of the interventions conducted and the client’s progress against their goals.
Occupational therapy is considered a holistic health service, which focuses on adapting a person’s environment to fit the client. As such, the client is an integral part of the therapeutic process. The occupational therapist collaborates frequently with other medical practitioners to ensure holistic, consistent support is provided, and is mindful at all times of the client’s wishes, perspectives and goals.
You’ll thrive working in occupational therapy if you:
- Love helping people
- Are highly motivated
- Have good time management and organisational skills
- Are a creative thinker
- Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Work well with people
- Love solving problems
- Can work well independently
While job growth for occupational therapy course graduates has been modest over the last decade, the Australian Government’s Job Prospect predicts a spike in demand to 2020, stating that 20 per cent more occupational therapists will be employed in the next three years. A critical part of a holistic health service, occupational therapists can enjoy seeking employment in most cities and regions of Australia, and may work collaboratively with other health care providers in shared private practices.
According to PayScale, an occupational therapist can earn between $45,000 and $78,000, depending on experience, with an average salary of $62,000. Entry-level occupational therapists can expect to enjoy rapid rises in salary in their first five years of work as their experience develops. Your salary will then continue growing at a slower rate as you continue working, according to PayScale.
PayScale reports that occupational therapists with skills in mental health support have the potential to earn a higher salary than their counterparts.
- Occupational Therapy Australia