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Becoming an Occupational Therapist

Recently, there has been a trend towards an entry-level doctorate for occupational therapy. This push was done to remain in line with other healthcare professions requiring entry-level doctorates such as pharmacy and physical therapy. Despite this trend, there are currently two accepted degrees that allow individuals to practice as occupational therapists. These are the entry-level master’s degree and entry-level doctorate.

Your future as an occupational therapist will be lively and diverse, promoting health and quality of life for a wide range of populations. This terminal degree will unlock your full potential in transforming your patients’ lives, removing any future barriers to your growth. Whether you’re working in a hospital, nursing home, or your own office, having your doctorate means you’ll be prepared for anything.

Master's Degree vs. Doctorate Degree

Entry-level Master’s DegreeEntry-level Doctorate Degree
Can be completed after a bachelor’s degree (About 6-7 total years of education)Can be completed after a bachelor’s degree (About 7 total years of education)
Prepares students to be generalist practitionersPrepares students in the following ways:
  • To be generalist practitioners
  • To be leaders
  • To understand policy and program development
  • To be an advocate and an educator
  • To be an entrepreneur and business owner
No capstone experienceCapstone required, offering mentorship in your area of interest
Entry-level salary offeringsIncreased professional opportunities for leadership positions and higher income salary potential
May have future limits to entry-level requirements by healthcare professionalsAligns with incoming trends for entry-level doctorate needs
Does not increase opportunities for scholarly research, academic work, or business ownershipIncreases opportunities for scholarly research, work in academia, and business ownership

Read this article for further elaboration!

Career Outlook

As part of the Centennial Vision, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has identified the following emerging practice areas. However, opportunities for developing emerging practice areas are boundless with an OTD degree and OTR credentials.

  • Addressing the psychosocial needs of children and youth
  • Design and accessibility consulting and home modification
  • Driver rehabilitation and training
  • Ergonomics consulting
  • Health and wellness consulting
  • Low vision services
  • Private practice community health services
  • Technology and assistive device development and consulting
  • Welfare-to-Work services
  • Ticket-to-Work services

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