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New York Health Careers

Occupational Therapists

What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

Occupational therapists (OTs)  treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help people with chronic or new disabilities develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working, and help patients learn or regain the skills they need to live as independently as possible and have productive, satsifying lives.

OTs help patients improve their ability to perform tasks in their living and working environments. They work with individuals of all ages who suffer from a mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling condition. OTs use treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of their patients, from showering, to cooking, to using a computer. The OT helps clients not only to improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function. They may offer special instruction for the use of adaptive equipment, including wheelchairs, orthoses, eating aids, and dressing aids.

OTs focus on restoring and improving physical abilities, promoting behavioral changes, and introducing new skills. They may help people improve their motor skills, dexterity, and strength so they can develop daily living skills, such as dressing, personal hygiene, eating, or house cleaning.

OTs may work with specific populations, such as the elderly or children, or they may specialize in specific types of disabilities, such as mental illness, stroke, accident injuries, or traumatic or severe brain injury.

For more information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm.

Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?

Almost half of OTs nationwide work in offices with physical and speech therapists, or audiologists, or hospitals. Other OTs work in schools, nursing homes, mental health clinics, rehabilitation facilities, and with home health services. Often, an OT will work with a client in the client’s home.

How Much Do Occupational Therapists Earn?

In 2022, the average annual income reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for occupational therapists in the United States was $92,800. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) reports that, in 2023, occupational therapists in New York earned a median annual salary of $89,689 (occupational therapists in the 25th percentile made approximately $67,213 while those in the 75th percentile made approximately $114,809).

Supply and Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for occupational therapists in the U.S. will increase by 14% between 2021 and 2031. The New York State Department of Labor projects that the number of jobs for occupational therapists in the state will increase by 25% between 2020 and 2030.

For more information on projections of occupational therapists by New York State labor regions (2018-2028), click here.

The strong growth of the OT workforce is attributed in part to the rising number of aging and older Americans who will need rehabilitative services for disabling conditions. In addition, technological advances are improving the survival rate for patients with critical or chronic health problems and offering new methods of effective treatment as well, all of which may increase demand for OTs’ rehabilitative services.

Educational Requirements

OTs need a master’s degree from an education program accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Admission to occupational therapy programs generally requires a bachelor’s degree and specific coursework, including biology and physiology. Many programs also require applicants to have volunteered or worked in an occupational therapy setting. Master’s programs generally take two years to complete; doctoral programs take longer. Some schools offer a dual degree program in which the student earns a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years. Part-time programs that offer courses on nights and weekends may also available.

Courses in the OT accredited programs will include anatomy and physiology; medical and psychosocial conditions; physical, biological, and behavioral sciences; human development; and the application of occupational therapy theory and skills. Education programs to become an OT will also include supervised internships to help students develop their clinical skills and gain real-world experience.

New York Licensure Requirements

Occupational therapists must be licensed. In order to obtain a license to practice as an OT in New York, applicants must graduate from an accredited educational program, have satisfactorily completed at least six months of supervised experience, and pass a national certification examination administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT).

For more information on New York licensing requirements, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/ot/otlic.htm

Financial Support

The AOTA offers scholarships and a variety of financial aid resources for students in OT education programs. For more information, go to: www.aota.org.

Education Programs in New York

Columbia University
710 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-5267
D’Youville University
320 Porter Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14201
(716) 829-8000
Dominican College
470 Western Highway
Orangeburg, NY 10962
(845) 359-7800
Ithaca College
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-3237
Keuka College
141 Central Ave.
Keuka Park, NY 14478
(315) 279-5000
Long Island University
Brooklyn Campus
One University Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 488-4508
Mercy College
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(914) 674-7600
New York Institute of Technology
Northern Boulevard
Old Westbury, NY 11568
(516) 686-3939
New York University
35 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-5825
The Sage Colleges
65 1st Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 244-2264
SUNY Stony Brook
Health Sciences Center
101 Nicolls Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 444-2252
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
450 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 270-7701
Touro College
New York City Campus
27 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010
(631) 665-1600Long Island Campus
1700 Union Blvd.
Bay Shore, NY 11706
(631) 665-1600
University at Buffalo-SUNY
515 Kimball Tower
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 829-5000
Utica College
1600 Burrstone Road
Utica, NY 13502
(315) 792-3006
York College-CUNY
94-20 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11451
(718) 262-2000
Clarkson University
8 Clarkson Ave
Potsdam, NY 13699
(315) 268-6400
Hofstra University
900 Fulton Ave
Hempstead, NY 11550
(516) 463-6600
Iona College
715 North Ave
New Rochelle, NY 10801
(800) 231-4662
Le Moyne College
1419 Salt Springs Rd
Syracuse, NY 13214
(315) 445-4100
Nazareth College
4245 East Ave
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 389-2525
Pace University
861 Bedford Rd
Pleasantville, NY 10570
(866) 722-3338
Maria College
700 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
(518) 438-3111

Additional Web Links

For more information about occupational therapists, go to:

The American Occupational Therapy Association website at: http://www.aota.org; or

The New York State Occupational Therapy Association website at: http://www.nysota.org; or

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy website at: http://www.nbcot.org.

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