Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with patients suffering from injury or illness to help them recover so that they can maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. OTs do this through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, such as helping patients learn how to dress themselves. OTs cab work in private offices, clinics, hospitals, patients' homes, and nursing homes. Most OTs work full-time weekdays. Some may work evenings or weekends to accommodate patient schedules.
Employment for occupational therapists is expected to grow by 17%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which notes the growth is much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is attributed to a growing and aging population.
How to Apply
Occupational therapists must obtain at least a master’s degree in occupational therapy—some earn doctoral degrees. OT schools are competitive. Most applicants have a bachelor’s degree. Students usually take two to three years to complete OT school and are required to complete at least 24 weeks of supervised field work.
Although you can select any undergraduate major, most OT schools expect you to take pre-requisite courses before you apply. These required courses can be different depending on the school you wish to apply to. You must research specific admissions requirements for each school you apply to. Occupational Therapy students must check with the individual schools for course requirements. Search for OT schools.
This is a guide of recommended courses students could take at Michigan Tech to prepare for OT school. This is not an exhaustive list. You are responsible to check with the schools you wish to apply to for specific requirements. Students should also check with the individual schools if they intend to use AP or community college credits to see if those are accepted.
Most OT schools require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as the entrance exam. Competitive GRE scores average 300-310 or higher. Students should aim for above the 50th percentile.
The GRE is offered as a computer-based test year-round. Register for the GRE. On average, students should spend 50 to 200 hours preparing for the GRE. This largely depends on how efficiently you study. The more time you spend the more confident you will be.
A competitive GPA is crucial for acceptance into OT schools. Most programs have minimum GPA requirements in order to apply that include both cumulative GPA and pre-requisite GPA. It is common for occupational therapy schools to require at least a 3.0; average accepted students have a GPA of 3.5 or more.
Apart from your prerequisites and entrance exam score, most OT schools require one to four letters of recommendation, a written personal statement, and if selected, an in-person interview. Many also require applicants to have a minimum number of volunteer and or paid hours working with patients. You may be required to have a licensed therapist verify your hours. Many schools place major emphasis on your experience when making admissions decisions.
The Professional Association for Occupational Therapy Schools is the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Most Occupational Therapy schools go through a centralized application called the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). The application opens in July and deadlines vary.