How to Become an Occupational Therapist 


How to Become an Occupational Therapist -900

 One of the hardest decisions when it comes to college is your major. An even harder decision is your end career goal.

If you are planning to go to professional school, then your major isn’t the only thing determining your future. You can have multiple different undergraduate majors that lead to the same career.

A popular career choice lately has been occupational therapy. It is a great career field if you are interested in science and the medical field. You don’t need to know for sure when you first start college if this is the career path you want.

You can go to school for occupational therapy no matter what science major you choose as long as you take the necessary classes needed. It is a great way to get involved in the medical field without being a nurse or doctor. You are still going to be a big part of helping people.  

Occupational therapy is the treating of the ill or injured through therapeutic activities. They help patients maintain and recover daily skills. Occupational therapists help you adapt to the daily physical skills you need even when you are injured.

With this career, you could also have an assistant who is called an occupational therapy assistant. These assistants go to school for two years to assist you in helping to aid all of the injured patients that you work with.

If you want to work in this field, but you don’t want to go through all of this schooling you have options. You could always go to school for 2 years to get an associate’s degree to be an occupational therapist assistant.

It just depends on what you are looking for in your future career. How long do you want to spend on your education, and what you need your salary to be.  

How Many Years Does it Take to Become an Occupational Therapist? 

In order to be an occupational therapist, you must get your master’s degree. This means that in order to get your master’s degree, you must first have an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

Typical bachelor programs are four years. So overall, it takes around 6 years to become an OT. This is assuming that you do not need to take any extra time during your bachelor’s degree.

Only 40% of students grade their undergraduate career in four years or under so it is very common to stay an extra semester or two in order to finish things up.

So basically, as long as you don’t spend any extra time in the undergrad or grad school or take any gap years, then it should take you a total of six years to become an occupational therapist.  

The NBC-OT is the board exam that you will take after your Master’s degree program in order to actually become an occupational therapist.

Each individual person can decide how long they want to take to prepare and study for this exam, so this can add time to your overall process of becoming an OT as well.

The board exam is two parts, one part with 170 questions and the other with 200 questions. They are all multiple choice and you can technically take this board exam as many times as you want. However, the fewer times you take it the better you look to future employers.

It cost $515 every time that you apply to take this online exam. Exam applications are valid for three months. There may also be some additional fees depending on how much money you want to spend on different tutors and books to prepare yourself for this exam. 

What Classes Do You Need to Take for OT School? 

Obviously, the classes that you take during your undergraduate career are going to differ because you could have many different majors in order to get into occupational therapy school.

However, once you go to occupational therapy school you should take around the same classes no matter what school you decide to go to.

One of the first things that you’re going to have to worry about is the classes that you need to take in your undergraduate in order to even be able to apply to occupational therapy school.

Many people do not realize the number of classes that are required simply to get into graduate school. Some of the main classes that you’re going to have to take in order to get into OT school are 

  • Medical terminology  
  • Human development  
  • Lifespan study 
  • Anatomy 
  • Physiology 
  • General psychology 
  • General sociology 
  • Anthropology 
  • Abnormal psychology 
  • Statistics 
  • Physics 
  • Kinesiology 

Then once you get into occupational therapy school, no matter where you end up going, your classes should be around the same thing.

No matter where you go you shouldn’t of taking similar classes even if they have different names.

Here are some general examples of the type of classes that you might take once you actually get into occupational therapy school 

  • Pediatrics 
  • Advanced medical terminology 
  • Physical rehabilitation  
  • Intervention techniques 
  • Advanced kinesiology 
  • Human occupation 
  • Human anatomy 
  • Therapy programs  

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an Occupational Therapist? 

As I mentioned earlier the qualifications to become an occupational therapist are easy to understand. You will have to put the time in and go to school longer than a lot of other majors and career choices.

In order to become an occupational therapist, you need to first successfully graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Take all of the prerequisite courses during your undergraduate degree. This is required in order to apply to occupational therapy school.

Third, get your masters and occupational therapy. Then finally, pass your board exam.

After you accomplish all of these things you should be successfully able to practice as an occupational therapist. It is important to look into and ask about the different requirements in different locations that you want to work.

Transferring your work to other states may require you to fill out different forms, get verification, and maybe even take the exam again. It’s always important to know what you need to do in order to work where you want. 

What is the Best Major for Occupational Therapy? 

Technically to be an occupational therapist, when applying to occupational therapy schools, you can go in with any undergraduate major. However, almost every student who applies has some sort of science major because of the prerequisites had required.

If you try to go for another major that had nothing to do with these pre-requisite classes, you would end up being an undergraduate school for five years or more. 

Since the prerequisites that I mentioned above all have to do with science, most students have some sort of science degree.

Some students may also have engineering degrees that have to do with science. They may also have a major that falls in between the lines.

It is always smart to pick a major that you were actually interested in or that you see yourself having a career in.

A lot of things change while you’re at college and you might decide that you don’t want to do occupational therapy.

This is why it is super important to pick a major that you actually have a passion for. That you can actually use if this path does not work out for you. 

Here is a list of some of the most popular undergraduate majors for occupational therapy school. 

  • Kinesiology 
  • PsychologyExercise science 
  • Nutrition  
  • Education 
  • Business
  • Biology 
  • Sociology 
  • Chemistry 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Health sciences

If you go for psychology and decide that you don’t want to be an occupational therapist anymore, you can be a counselor.

Going for exercise science or nutrition, you can end up working for some sort of sports team.

If you go for a science degree you can go to a different professional school. You can also look into research or education. 

Is Occupational Therapy Hard? 

Any major within the medical field or any career that requires graduate school is going to be hard. This is why it is important that you think about this before you get yourself into the program.

It is something that is going to take a lot of time and dedication from your life. You are not only going to be devoting your four years of undergraduate your education, but also the two years of your occupational therapy school.

If you think about it, other people’s well-being is going to be put into your hands. This is why this job is so important and it’s going to require so much dedication from your life.

It is not something that should be thought of lately. Obviously the classes, coursework, and fieldwork are going to be hard.

It is hard but it is completely doable. This is a career path that you are going to help people so much throughout your entire life. Just make sure that you are ready to dedicate yourself to this type of work. You also need to put your full mind and heart into the care. 

What is the Role of an Occupation Therapist? 

Occupational therapy is something that’s provided for people with many chronic conditions. The main priority for an occupational therapist is to improve a patient’s ability to perform their daily activities. A therapist will help with their social life, work-life, and home life.

They are there to facilitate successful adaptations to their lifestyle in order to improve their current status. They also want to make sure that they don’t lose any more function than they already have.

Occupational therapists want to help their patients have more independence even though they have a sort of disability or problem. It is also hopefully going to reduce healthcare costs for the patients.

An occupational therapist can assess people’s problems and then help them with their independence in their daily lives. It is a job where you are constantly going to be helping people.

The main thing I understand is that occupational therapy is there to improve the client’s ability to do everyday activities. Their focus on physical and psychological aspects to help them live a happier life.

They are not just solely focus on improving the physical aspects of the human body which is what a physical therapist does. An occupational therapist is treating the whole person whether it is the physical aspect or not. 

Can I Become an Occupational Therapist Without a Degree? 

There are many great jobs and careers that you can get without a degree. However, an occupational therapist is not one of them. Because you’re dealing with people and their well-being, it is crucial that you have all the proper education that you need.

This is why the bachelor’s and Masters’s programs are both required. When dealing with other people’s health, it is important that we do the best that we can to be the most educated.

I would hope that the person treating me is educated correctly as I’m sure that you would as well. This is a degree that requires a lot of schooling.

As I mentioned earlier if you are looking to not go to school for as long, you could also go to school for two years. The two-year program will allow you to become an occupational therapy assistant. 

Overall there are a lot of great things about being an occupational therapist. If you think that you might be interested in this occupation. It is a good idea to at least have some sort of science major in your undergraduate career.

It is also important to do your research and make sure that if this is something that you’re actually interested in dedicating your time and education to. You could be helping people every day for the rest of your life. 

If you are interested in reading about getting a health science degree, click this link to read more.

If you are looking for online testing help, we recommend PrepScholar.

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