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6 Career Paths as an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists are licensed medical professionals who help clients gain or regain the ability to do a variety of tasks related to functioning in everyday life. You may be familiar with how these professionals help stroke patients get back to doing things like eating, writing, and dressing themselves. This role is distinct from the roles of physical therapists and physiotherapists. While they all work together to help people do normal daily tasks, each of them performs a unique function to get people independent as quickly as possible. There are many different career paths that an occupational therapist can take. Some of them involve direct patient care, while others take a creative career path that is different than expected. Here are 7 career paths as an occupational therapist.

Common Career Paths for an Occupational Therapist

Elderly Care

Older adults, especially in nursing homes, require extra care. Adults with dementia, following a stroke, or after a car accident, often lose the ability to do certain tasks. Occupational therapists come in to help them practice doing things like making meals, getting dressed, and eating. They can also help these individuals re-learn how to do other tasks they enjoy like hobbies and gardening. The goal is to help these people become as independent as possible and to restore their dignity.

Occupational Therapy for Children

Kids with special needs often require occupational therapy. These professionals help children who have autism, ADHD, sensory processing issues, and more. Children who have one of these or other disabilities benefit from the training they receive with an occupational therapist. It can help them learn to interact more appropriately with other children, how to ask for what they need, practice eating with utensils, and drinking the right way with a cup. These skills help children gain confidence and independence they wouldn’t have otherwise as they grow.

Mental Health Care

People with certain mental health conditions such as Schizophrenia often struggle to live independently. Their mental health challenges keep them from being able to perform the things they need to live a healthy and happy life. By leveraging an occupational therapist, these individuals learn how to better manage their condition. They will develop new skills and routines that help them function and thrive. They discover ways to solve problems and think through challenges. This enables them to live on their own instead of in a care facility.

Creative Career Paths for an Occupational Therapist

Many occupational therapists want to use their skills in different ways. People with a Doctor of Occupational Therapy have advanced skills and the ability to think strategically about how to help patients and how to use their education and training to develop new professionals. There are countless ways to use this degree to forge a more creative career path that goes beyond simple patient care.


Some OT’s like to use their education to train others. They may develop a series of courses either online or in-person to give parents and caregivers the skills they need to help continue the therapy at home. It helps create a continuity of care that patients would not otherwise have.

Business Owner

Did you know that starting a private occupational therapy practice is easier than you’d think? If you have a specialty that you enjoy the most or want to hire others to do direct care, then this might be a good option. Running a private practice can give you the opportunity to create the perfect environment for children or to help only people with mental health conditions. It provides a way for you to specialize and hire others to help the process.

Private or Corporate Health Coaching

Health coaches are trained professionals who give people the tools and mindset they need to start and complete a weight loss program. They are there to help individuals along their health journeys. They are not mental health therapists, but they can help their clients develop new skills that will help them make better health choices. At the corporate level, they can offer training courses to help people make the best health choices and lower the corporate insurance rates because more people will be healthy instead of constantly using doctors for chronic medical conditions.

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