How Much Does An Occupational Therapist Make?

If you’re considering a career in occupational therapy, one question you might be asking yourself is, “How much does an occupational therapist make?” 

While you should never choose a career strictly because of earning potential, for many people it does play a significant role in the decision making process. If you are going to dedicate a lot of time and energy into achieving success in the career of your choice, it is only natural to want to be financially rewarded for your efforts.

So how much does an occupational therapist make?

Truthfully, the answer to this is not completely cut and dry, so there are a number of factors that you should consider.  Let’s provide a brief overview so that you can get a better sense of the income of individuals in this field.

Years Of Schooling

The very first thing that must be taken into account with regards to how much an occupational therapist makes is the number of years of schooling they have.  Some individuals will choose the faster route to get involved with this industry and take occupational therapist assistant programs, which are typically just 1-2 years depending on the particular program.

With the lower level of schooling, however, comes fewer responsibilities and lower pay. The median wage for occupational therapist assistants is around $48, 230, with the lowest 10% earning less than $31, 530 and the highest 10% earning $65, 160.

When you compare this to occupational therapists, their median annual wage is $66,780 with the lowest 10% earning less than $42,820 and the highest 10% earning over $98,310.

You can note the considerable difference a few additional years of school will make on the income earning potential.

Registered occupational therapists (OTRs) who are certified through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy may earn more than non-certified therapists.

One additional factor that must be noted is that occupational therapists may work various total hours per year depending on the industry they’re in, so those who are putting in more hours will typically be earning more as well.

Experience Level

The second thing that has to be taken into account when assessing how much occupational therapists make is the experience they have behind them.  The longer you work in the field, generally speaking, the greater your income will be.

For example, staff occupational therapists working in a school setting earned between $38,600 and $56,200.  Those who were at the manager level noted a significant increase to their salary to the level of $67,000 to $101,000. Note that in these stats though, the total number of work days per year increased by 60 days, so that needs to be reflected in the figures.

If you move into a director level and are overseeing other occupational therapists, your salary will climb again and you’ll be earning between $82,000 and $123,000 on average.

Industry You’re Working In

Finally, the last factor that needs to be taken into account when assessing how much occupational therapists make is the actual industry that they’re working in.  The highest paying area for those in this field tends to be home health care services, with nursing care facilities coming in just below it.

Working in the offices of other health care practitioners also tends to be financially lucrative, with most occupational therapists earning around $70,000 per year.

Elementary and secondary school positions tend to come in at the lower end of the scale, offering the lowest of financial compensation.

Many individuals in this field may find that these positions are the ones that offer the greatest overall level of personal satisfaction however, so that draws them to a career in that area.

As you can see, the average occupational therapist salary can vary, but if you get your schooling completed and work hard to climb up in the ranks, you will be well compensated for your effort.

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