Occupational Therapist Job Description | Duties & Responsibilities

If you are applying for an occupational therapist job, read this job description guide to see the duties and responsibilities you should expect.

An ideal job description includes everything an organization expects an occupational therapist to do, skills they should possess, and the monetary reward for their hard work.

This free guide on an occupational therapist’s job description contains all that and even more.

It has been carefully written to help aspiring or prospective occupational therapists know what to expect from their employer.

Occupational therapists are individuals who treat sick, injured, or disabled patients. 

They help these patients recover, improve or manage health challenges.

An ideal applicant should possess strong communication and interpersonal skills.

You should also be compassionate, flexible, and patient.

You must possess these attributes because they make the job more interesting and easy.

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What does an Occupational Therapist do?

Occupational therapists provide treatment to sick, injured, or disabled individuals.

They help their patients recover, improve, or manage their health conditions.

As an occupational therapist, you will be responsible for helping your patients who are disabled and always require help performing day-to-day activities and developing skills required for performing daily activities independently.

You will teach them how to use leg braces, eating aids, wheelchairs, and/or any other equipment required to help them live more independent lives.

Occupational therapists also work in the educational sector with children who are disabled.

They assess the children’s disabilities, then make partial changes to the classroom equipment to meet the needs of the children, and help the children participate in school activities as well.

These occupational therapists who work with children also partner with parents to provide intervention therapy to children who already suffer from developmental delays or are at potential risk of suffering.

Some occupational therapists also work in mental health institutions, where they help mentally and emotionally sick patients.

They also help individuals suffering from drug abuse, depression, alcohol misuse, and disorders.

Occupational therapists are not doctors, but they may work in hospitals as a part of the healthcare team to assist patients in full recovery.

They are also responsible for overseeing the work of assistant occupational therapists.

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What are the Duties and Responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist?

Here are some of the duties and responsibilities of occupational therapists commonly featured in an occupational therapist job description;

1. Meet with Patients

An occupational therapist must meet with patients.

During these meetings, they evaluate the medical history of patients.

They also observe patients perform certain activities.

By so doing, they can evaluate the patient’s condition and needs.

2. Develop a Treatment Plan

After a successful meeting with a patient, they are also saddled with the responsibility of developing an effective treatment plan.

Treatment plans usually feature activities targeted at helping the patient achieve a specific goal.

During the treatment process, whenever the occupational therapist sees the need to make adjustments to the treatment plan, he or she does that.

3. Recommend Relevant Environmental Changes

Occupational therapists also must visit the homes and workplaces of their patients.

They do this to evaluate their environment and make necessary changes.

Such changes could be identifying objects that could cause falls to children with developmental delays and advising the parent to remove or keep them out of their reach.

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4. Updates Patient’s Records

As treatment progresses and the patient’s health status changes, an occupational therapist is expected to update the patient’s medical records.

This is important for future reference by them or another health care provider.

5. Inform the Patient’s Family on how to Care for them

Apart from patients, occupational therapists also meet with the family and friends of their patients.

During these meetings, they educate them on how to help the patient live a better life.

Other duties and responsibilities of an occupational therapist usually featured in the job description include:

  • Patients need equipment and tools to help them perform daily tasks independently.
  • Prepare clients to return to the normal life they had before the incident
  • Adhere to all relevant rules, regulations, and policies.
  • Stay updated with recent techniques for helping patients to give patients the best.

What Qualification do I need to become an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational therapists require a master’s degree from a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

A master’s degree usually takes about 2 years to complete. But, some schools offer dual degree programs.

A student can obtain a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in 5 years.

Bachelor’s degree in biology, sociology, psychology, anatomy, physiology, and anthropology could serve as a prerequisite for getting accepted into a master’s degree program in occupational therapy.

Some occupational therapists also enter the occupation with a doctorate.

Aside from a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in occupational therapy, occupational therapists also need a license to practice. 

This license is peculiar to different countries and states; therefore, the requirements may differ.

To obtain a license to practice occupational therapy in the United States, you must successfully sit for and pass an examination by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

To remain a certified occupational therapist, candidates must continue attending educational classes.

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What Skills should an Occupational Therapist have?

Employers also look out for certain skills and attributes in an occupational therapist.

Usually, these skills are also featured in an occupational therapist job description.

Here are some of the skills employers look for:

1. Communication Skills

A good occupational therapist should be capable of communicating instructions to patients and their caregivers as well.

They should be able to communicate verbally and in writing too.

Communication skills for an occupational therapist should not be limited to speaking only but to listening.

Good occupational therapists should possess good listening abilities.

2. Interpersonal Skills

These individuals are also expected to possess interpersonal skills.

They should be able to develop good working relationships with their patients and other caregivers.

3. Compassion

The passion drives a good occupational therapist to help others 

They are also sensitive to the emotional and mental needs of their patients.

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4. Patients

Often, it can be very difficult to deal with individuals injured or suffering from any mental, physical, or emotional challenge.

Therefore, an occupational therapist has to be patient to give patients the care they need.

5. Critical Thinking

There are usually various methods and techniques to deploy when caring for patients.

As such, an occupational therapist has to be able to think critically to make professional decisions on which technique will be best for each patient.

Ideal individuals for this job are also determined, enthusiastic, and have good teamwork skills.

Individuals who possess any of these skills but are sure they do not want to be doctors or nurses will certainly make good occupational therapists.

Where do Occupational Therapists Work?

Here are some of the typical employers of occupational therapists:

  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Prisons
  • GP practices
  • NHS trust
  • Industrial organizations
  • Health and daycare centers

Vacancy advertisements are usually placed online by recruitment agencies or in national newspapers.

How much do Occupational Therapists make?

On average, occupational therapists in the United States make up to $84,950 per year.

Although their salary usually ranges from 

$56,800 per annum to $121,490 per year.

How much an occupational therapist makes depends on the following factors:

  • Location: occupational therapists in more developed environments may earn more than their colleagues who work in less developed areas; also, a country’s economy affects the salary of an occupational therapist.
  • Experience: more experienced occupational therapists are usually paid better
  • Place of work: occupational therapists who work in bigger organizations may be paid better.
  • Qualification: More qualifications may mean better pay

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Occupational Therapist Work Environment and Schedule

Occupational therapists regularly travel from one healthcare facility to another. Sometimes, they also work in offices, but they spend most of their working hours standing with patients.

Typically, occupational therapist works based on shifts that suit the needs of their patients.

Their working hours vary greatly. They may even work at night and on weekends.

Occupational Therapy Job Outlook?

According to the U.S bureau of labor statistics, job employment for occupational therapists is expected to increase by 24% from 2016 through 2026.

This increase is way better than the estimated increase for most career paths.

Healthcare organizations will need occupational therapists to treat patients with chronic illnesses such as stroke.

Such patients will need the services of occupational therapists to help them live more independent lives.

Also, occupational therapists will always be relevant in the treatment of disorders and disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and even drug or substance abuse, to mention but a few.

However, all of these will depend on patients’ ability to afford payments through insurance or directly.

Summary of the Job Description of an Occupational Therapist 

When creating an occupational therapist resume, applicants may want to increase all necessary information to convince employers they are suitable for the job.

During an interview, referring to your experience, qualification, and skills is important.

Applicants should not hesitate to use this guide on the job description of an occupational therapist when creating a professional resume.

This article can also be used as a recruiters’ occupational therapist job description template.

An organization that decides to use it to create its occupational therapist job description should also feel free to make necessary adjustments to suit the organization’s needs.

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