Occupational Therapy OT

| 6 May 2024

The data in this blog is for general informational purposes only and information presented was accurate as of the publication date.

Occupational Therapist Salary: The Highest Paying Specialties in 2024

a physical rehabilitation OT working with a patient

In the field of rehabilitative sciences, there are many career paths to choose from—especially in occupational therapy (OT).

If you’ve completed an undergraduate program and want to establish a career in OT, the first step is often to enroll in a graduate program. Earning a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) with a program like those available through USAHS should prepare you to pursue an OT specialty and advance your career.

And if you’re an occupational therapist assistant (OTA) without a bachelor’s degree, consider an OTA to MOT Bridge program like the one here at USAHS to earn your MOT in as little as two years.*

For all OT specialties, you need to successfully complete the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to become a registered occupational therapist (OT) and obtain state licensure.1 Each OT specialty may require additional certification.

Once you’ve completed your studies, what can you expect to earn as your occupational therapist salary? Below are the highest-paying OT jobs you may pursue after completing an OT program and obtaining your license.

highest paying ot specialties in 2023

1. Gerontology

Average Salary for Occupational Therapist with Geriatric Skills (2024) $40.01 per hour2**

Occupational therapists who specialize in gerontology work with elderly adults to help them with post-stroke recovery, cognitive challenges, mobility issues and various illnesses that affect their ability to perform daily tasks.

To specialize in gerontology, ensure you meet the advanced certification eligibility criteria then earn a Board Certification in Gerontology (BCG) from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).3,4,5

OTs can play a significant role in aging adult rehabilitation and patient care. Today’s occupational therapy salary reflects the expertise and specialization required in the field. An OT’s earning potential can increase with experience and certification, highlighting the profession’s potential financial benefits and job satisfaction.

2. Brain Injuries

Average OT Salary with CIBS (2024) $37 per hour6**

Certified Brain Injury Specialists (CBIS) are healthcare professionals who work with patients with brain injuries. A CBIS provides patients with a personalized treatment plan to promote recovery. As an OT and CBIS, you can help patients reclaim functionality and participate more fully in everyday activities.7  Meet the minimum eligibility requirements, then apply for the CBIS credential through the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) to specialize in brain injury.8

The average occupational therapist salary for specialists in brain injuries is competitive, reflecting the complex nature of their work. CBIS certification can further enhance an OT’s career prospects and earning potential, emphasizing the value of specialized skills in improving patient outcomes.

3. Autism

Average Salary for Pediatric Occupational Therapist with ASD Skills (2024) $37.98 per hour9**

The occupational therapist salary for those working with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) reflects the high demand and narrow nature of their services. OTs who work with patients with ASD have a specialized skill set to help address specific challenges. They work with autistic adults and children who have difficulty with sensory dysfunction and fine motor skills.

To become a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS), OTs must meet the minimum certification requirements and earn a CAS certificate through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).10

4. Pediatrics

Average OT Salary for Pediatric Speciality (2024) $67,282 11**

Pediatric OT positions rank among the highest paying OT jobs due to the specialized care and tailored interventions these practitioners provide for kids. A pediatric occupational therapist works with children to improve their motor skills and help them perform tasks such as feeding and walking. Pediatric OTs also help adolescents with mental and physical limitations to live more independently.

To become a pediatric OT, meet the minimum eligibility requirements, apply for Board Certification in Pediatrics (BCP) and pass the exam administered by AOTA.3,12

Want to know more about our OT programs?

Program InformationRequest Information

5. Hand Therapy

Average Salary for Occupational Therapist Specializing in Hand Therapy (2024) $75,56713**

Certified Hand Therapists (CHTs) are occupational therapists who work with patients to treat upper limb conditions caused by disease, trauma and other injuries and conditions.  The occupational therapy salary for CHTs reflects their specialized skills in rehabilitating upper extremities.

 To become a CHT, you need to become certified through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC).14 Candidates must meet the required HTCC standard and pass the examination.15

6. Physical Rehabilitation

Average OT Salary with Rehabilitation Skills (2024) $38.93 per hour16**

Physical rehabilitation is one of the highest paying OT jobs. OTs that specialize in this area can design rehab strategies that are unique to the patient and focus on occupational engagement. To specialize in physical rehabilitation, earn the Board Certification in Physical Rehabilitation (BCPR).17 Review the BCPR advanced certification eligibility criteria before applying.17

7. Mental Health

Average Salary for OT with Psychiatric Skills (2024) $36.13 per hour18**

Mental health offers high potential for a promising occupational therapist salary. OTs who work in mental health treat patients who have difficulty functioning independently in their communities. These individuals may struggle with managing emotions, planning and organizing tasks or problem solving.19

8. Neurology

Average OT with Neurology Clinic Skills Salary (2024) $34.80 per hour20**

Among the highest paying OT jobs is a role in neurology, a medical field that studies and treats and manages disorders of the brain and nervous system.21 An OT may become a Certified Neuro Specialist (CNS) to expand their neurological skills. To become a CNS, you must complete the CNS Certification Course.22

9. Driving and Community Mobility 

Average Annual Salary for Occupational Therapist with Community Health Skills (2024) $61,53423**

Driving and community mobility practitioners command a competitive occupational therapist salary. Their role involves helping patients safely and confidently move through their community by way of driving, biking, walking or using public transportation.

To specialize in driving and community mobility, you may earn the Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) credential from The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED).24


The following are common questions about OT specialties and industries. 

What is the highest-paying field in occupational therapy?

The highest-paying field in occupational therapy in 2024 is gerontology, with an average hourly salary of $40.01.2

What are the top-paying industries for occupational therapists?

The industries with the highest average annual occupational therapist salaries are25:

  • Management of companies and enterprises: $115,310
  • Home health care services: $110,460
  • Outpatient care centers: $108,690
  • Skilled nursing facilities: $101,740
  • Specialty hospitals, excluding psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals: $101,290

Offices of other health practitioners have the highest level of employment, with 42,840 employed OTs.25

What are the highest-paying states for occupational therapists?

states with the highest annual mean salary for OTs in 2023

The states with the highest average annual salaries for occupational therapists are25:

  • California: $113,550
  • New York: $107,530
  • Nevada: $107,070
  • New Jersey: $105,880
  • Colorado: $104,950

California also ranks as the state with the highest employment level, with 12,470 employed OTs.25 Consider the cost of living for each state when comparing average salaries.

Launch Your OT Career at USAHS

At USAHS, our network of over 200 OT faculty have real-world experience in more than 30 specialties, including geriatrics, neurological rehabilitation and pediatrics. In our collaborative MOT and OTD programs, faculty members provide in-depth expertise and mentorship. From Residential, Flex or Hybrid Immersion, choose a path that fits your lifestyle.

Ready to learn more about USAHS’ occupational therapy programs? Contact an enrollment advisor today.

*Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress, credits transferred, and other factors

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929; telephone: 301-652-AOTA; email: www.acoteonline.org accredits the Master of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Occupational Therapy programs at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on a campus-by-campus basis.

The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree program at the Dallas, Texas, campus has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

**The information provided on this website is based on self-reported data and is intended for informational purposes only. Payscale is a limited data source that relies on voluntary submissions from individuals and employers.

The accuracy, completeness and reliability of the data presented may vary due to its voluntary nature and limited scope. While efforts are made to maintain the data’s accuracy, we cannot guarantee its absolute correctness or currency.


  1. “NBCOT,” NBCOT, https://www.nbcot.org/
  2. Payscale, “Average Occupational Therapist (OT) with Geriatrics Skills Hourly Pay,” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Occupational_Therapist_(OT)/Hourly_Rate/ece29f86/Geriatrics
  3. “Advanced certification eligibility criteria,” AOTA, https://www.aota.org/career/advanced-certification-program/eligibility-requirements
  4. “Board Certification in Gerontology,” AOTA, https://www.aota.org/career/advanced-certification-program/gerontology
  5. “AOTA,” AOTA, https://www.aota.org/
  6. Payscale, “Salary for Certification: The Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists (ACBIS), Occupational Therapists,” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=The_Academy_of_Certified_Brain_Injury_Specialists_(ACBIS)/Salary
  7. Christina Brown Fisher, “Occupational Therapy (OT),” BrainLine, March 2021, https://www.brainline.org/treatment-hub/occupational-therapy-ot#
  8. ACBIS, “Certified Brain Injury Specialist,” Brain Injury Association of America, https://www.biausa.org/professionals/academy-of-certified-brain-injury-specialists/certified-brain-injury-specialist/cbis-information-eligibility
  9. Payscale, “Average Pediatric Occupational Therapist with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Skills Hourly Pay,” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Pediatric_Occupational_Therapist/Salary/cda085e0/Autism-Spectrum-Disorders-ASD
  10. “Certified Autism Specialist,” IBCCES, https://ibcces.org/certified-autism-specialist/
  11.  Payscale, “Average Pediatric Occupational Therapist Hourly Pay” Payscale, last modified 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Pediatric_Occupational_Therapist/Salary
  12. “Board Certification in Pediatrics,” AOTA, https://www.aota.org/career/advanced-certification-program/pediatrics
  13. Payscale, “Average Hand Therapist Salary,” Payscale, 2024,  https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Hand_Therapist
  14. “Overview,” HTCC, https://www.htcc.org/certification/examination-information/overview
  15. “Eligibility Requirements,” HTCC, https://www.htcc.org/certification/examination-information/eligibility-requirements
  16. Payscale, “Average Occupational Therapist (OT) with Rehabilitation Skills Hourly Pay,” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Occupational_Therapist_(OT)/Hourly_Rate/70e4dce0/Rehabilitation
  17. “Board certification in physical rehabilitation,” AOTA, https://www.aota.org/career/advanced-certification-program/physical-rehabilitation
  18. Payscale, “Average Occupational Therapist (OT) with Psychiatric Skills Hourly Pay,” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Occupational_Therapist_(OT)/Salary/22604a36/Psychiatric
  19. “Occupational Therapy for Mental Health,” John Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/physical-medicine-rehabilitation/specialty-areas/occupational-therapy/mental-health-ot
  20. Payscale, “Average Occupational Therapist (OT) with Neurology Clinic Skills Hourly Pay,” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Occupational_Therapist_(OT)/Salary/b00637eb/Neurology-Clinic
  21. Cleveland Clinic, “Neurologist,” Cleveland Clinic, January 2022, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22277-neurologist
  22. “CNS CERTIFICATION,” The Neuro Specialist Institute, https://www.neurospecialist.org/certification
  23. Payscale, “Average Occupational Therapist (OT) with Community Health Skills Salary” Payscale, 2024, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Occupational_Therapist_(OT)/Salary/bdeb24fe/Community-Health
  24. ADED, “Definition of a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist,” ADED, https://www.aded.net/page/215
  25. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2023” BLS, April 3 2024, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm


There could be an article about you here one day. Take charge of your own life-story!

Take charge of your own life-story

Request Information

More Occupational Therapy OT Articles

Upcoming Occupational Therapy OT events