Occupational therapists work with people of all ages to enable them to perform activities associated with work and/or daily living. By preventing injury, adapting an activity for a client with injury or disability, or restoring skills following injury, the ultimate goal is to give the client more independence and a better quality of living. Occupational therapists perform evaluations of the client, which may include the client’s home or work environment, to identify the client’s goals and challenges, and then recommend treatment and/or adaptive strategies. OTs are found in a wide variety of practice settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, school systems, home health services and workplace/industrial settings. The OT field is rapidly growing as demand steadily increases and interest in the profession expands. US News and World Report named OT as one of the 50 best careers of 2011. The median salary for OT is $70,000.
The entry-level degree is a master’s degree, typically the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) degree. Program length is usually 2 years. Following graduation from an accredited program, the candidate must obtain a license from the state(s) in which he/she intends to practice. Licensure requires passing the national certifying examination for occupational therapists; individual states may impose additional requirements for licensure. Regular continuing education is usually required to maintain a valid license.
There are currently 4 accredited OT programs in North Carolina:
East Carolina University
UNC- Chapel Hill
Winston-Salem State University
UNC Charlotte does not offer a professional-level OT program.