Occupational Therapy as a Career
Occupational therapists help people of all ages to fully engage in their daily lives, from their work and recreation to activities of daily living. There are several specialties, such as training workers to use the correct ergonomics, helping people with low vision maintain their independence, making buildings and homes more accessible, evaluating and training older drivers, helping accident victims regain needed skills, offer assistance to people with mental illness, and promoting health and wellness. Many practitioners may also choose to help children thrive in the “occupations” of childhood, which include learning, playing and growing. Additional work environments include schools with students who have learning disabilities or behavioral problems and nursing homes or private homes for older people.
- Carefully check admission requirements at OT schools of most interest and take the required coursework. Common prerequisites courses include anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology, statistics, English, general psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and sociology/anthropology
- Meet with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor each semester and request to be added to the Pre-OT Email List
- Choose a degree major that you enjoy and that provides a good “back-up plan” and career path in case you change your mind about occupational therapy. Common majors include Exercise Science and Biology; however, all majors will be considered IF a student completes the prerequisite courses and other admissions standards established by individual OT programs
- Join the Pre-Physical/Occupation Therapy/Athletic Training Organization (POTATO) at U of I.
- Get OT shadowing and clinical experience and maintain a Professional Development Activities Log. Find out firsthand what the profession is like, decide if it is right for you, explore different areas of the field and in different settings, and be sure to meet clinical experience requirements of your preferred schools.
- Develop strong relationships with faculty, OT professionals, and others who will be writing letters of reference
Depending on OT school requirements and participation, the application process may consist of taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and then applying through Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Carefully check the application requirements and process at each school by reviewing the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTE) Program Directory.