Occupational therapists (OTs) are a vital part of healthcare. From helping an elderly patient relearn skills after a stroke to aiding a professional recover their strength after a workplace injury, OTs provide invaluable support to people of all ages—and can enjoy a rewarding career in the process.1
If you’re weighing the idea of pursuing a job as an occupational therapist, you’re likely wondering where your services will be needed—and where your education, training and hard work will pay off the most.
Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?
Occupational therapists offer a range of services to improve patients’ health and quality of life by helping them with everyday activities. OTs can specialize in certain areas—such as youth rehabilitation or mental health—and assist with a wide spectrum of needs.1
OTs may help patients with Alzheimer’s improve their mobility after a fall and give their caregiver insights and support on bathing safely.2 They also might assist a child with a disability and help them improve their fine motor skills to enhance their performance at school and in social settings.1 When it comes to aged care, OTs help elderly patients navigate age-related problems, such as memory loss, vision loss, hearing loss and poor coordination, all while helping them with daily tasks.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including:3
- Government agencies
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation centers
- Mental health facilities
- Home healthcare
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nearly half of occupational therapists work in a hospital setting or an occupational therapy office.4
Where Are Occupational Therapists Needed the Most?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for occupational therapists is expected to grow nationwide over the next decade.7 On a state level, however, the BLS also shows that several locations have a high demand for OTs at present.5 States with a high concentration of OT jobs include:5
- New Hampshire
The need for quality healthcare, including occupational therapists, is also rising in rural areas. This increasing demand impacts 60 million Americans, highlighting the need for OTs in non-urban regions.6
Where Can Occupational Therapists Earn the Most?
Income can be a huge determining factor when you’re choosing a state to live and practice in. In 2021, the median annual salary for occupational therapists across the nation was $85,570—or $41.14 per hour.4 In the U.S. News & World Report’s annual round-up of professions across industries, they found that OTs in the top 25% earned an average of $103,060 per year, while the lowest 25% brought in an income of $70,880.7
OT salaries can vary radically depending on the city and state where you live and work. Here are the top five highest-paying cities for OTs:
- The Villages, Florida – The Villages is one of the Sunshine State’s leading tourist destinations. OTs earn an annual average income of $115,920.7 The biggest OT providers in this region are home healthcare services.8
- Las Vegas, Nevada – OTs in this city pull in an average of $115,060 annually. According to Glassdoor, rehabilitation hospital Encompass Health is one of the highest-rated places for OTs to work in Las Vegas.9
- Modesto, California – This Northern California city pays occupational therapists an average of $112,870 per year—more than double the average median salary in the U.S.10
- Vallejo, California – OTs in this coastal San Francisco Bay Area city can expect an average annual income of $112,610.
- San Jose, California – The median OT salary in Silicon Valley is $111,720. Keep in mind, however, that the cost of living in San Jose is 53% higher than the national average.11
As for the highest-paying states? Think of western states and the East Coast: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and D.C. have the highestOT salaries.7
The setting in which you choose to practice can also impact your salary. Data shows that home health care and OT management are two of the highest-paying venues.7
What Is the Overall Job Outlook for Occupational Therapists?
The demand for OTs is expected to continue to grow. In 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that OT jobs would accelerate at a rate of 14% over the next decade.4 Roughly 10,100 occupational therapy roles are projected to open each year.
Occupational therapy is a booming career field with excellent prospects.
Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy Salary
These two medical fields are often confused with one another. Perhaps one of the main areas of confusion is the average salary. Physical therapists (PTs) outearn occupational therapists with a median annual salary of $95,620.12 However, a doctor of occupational therapy salary is much closer to a PT’s salary.
Fulfil Your Career Goals in Occupational Therapy
One thing to consider when it comes to how to get into occupational therapy school is picking the right program. The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is an optimal choice for healthcare professionals who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in occupational therapy.
We offer MOT, OTD and PPOTD programs to provide you with the training and tools you need to make a difference. Our programs are specifically tailored to meet the demands of the modern student, with curriculums and online courses available to suit your needs and schedule.
Request information about our programs today and start paving the way for a rewarding career in occupational therapy.
- American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., “About Occupational Therapy,” AOTA, last modified 2022.
- C Jo, “How occupational therapy helps with Alzheimer’s?,” Alzheimers.net, last modified December 5, 2018.
- J Seladi-Schulman, “Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: How Do They Differ?”, Healthline, last modified on March 11, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/occupational-therapy-vs-physical-therapy#about-occupational-therapy
- “Occupational Therapists: Occupational Outlook Handbook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified September 8, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm
- “Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021: 29-1122 Occupational Therapists,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified March 2022.
- United States Census Bureau, “What is Rural America?”, United States Census Bureau, last modified October 8, 2021.
- US News & World Report, “Occupational Therapist Salary,” US News & World Report, last modified 2022. https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/occupational-therapist/salary
- Indeed, “Occupational therapist salary in The Villages, FL,” Indeed, last modified 2022.
- Glassdoor, “Top Companies Hiring for Occupational Therapist Jobs in Las Vegas, NV Area,” Glassdoor, last modified 2022. https://www.glassdoor.com/Explore/top-occupational-therapist-companies-las-vegas_IO.4,26_IL.37,46_IM477.htm
- A Doyle, “Median Salary in the U.S.,” The Balance Money, last modified September 19, 2022.
- PayScale, “Cost of Living in San Jose, CA,” PayScale, last modified 2022.
- “Physical Therapists : Occupational Outlook Handbook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified September 8, 2022, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm