what is an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional who works with people of all ages. You help them overcome physical, mental, or developmental challenges that prevent them from participating in activities they need or want to do.

You are trained to look at the whole person, not just their symptoms or conditions. You work with individuals to identify their goals and create a personalised treatment plan to help them achieve those goals. Treatments may include exercises and activities to improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and cognitive or behavioural interventions to address mental health concerns.

One of the unique aspects of occupational therapy is that it is often focused on helping people achieve independence in their daily activities. This independence can include things like bathing, dressing, cooking, and other tasks that may seem routine but can be challenging for someone with a physical or mental health condition.

As an occupational therapist, you are a skilled and compassionate healthcare professional dedicated to helping your patients live their lives to the fullest, despite any challenges they may be facing. You work with them every step of the way, providing guidance, support, and encouragement.

If a career as an occupational therapist appeals to your compassionate nature and desire to help others, keep reading to find out what skills and qualifications will help you to thrive in this profession.


average salary of an occupational therapist

According to Payscale, the average salary of an occupational therapist is a little under ₹400,000 per year. Entry-level positions tend to earn closer to ₹200,000 per year, while more experienced occupational therapists can make over ₹800,000 per year. The average salary for an occupational therapist with over ten years of experience is around ₹12,00,000 per year.

factors that affect occupational therapists' pay

One of the most significant factors that can impact your salary is your level of education and experience. Typically, occupational therapists with advanced degrees or certifications earn more than those with only a bachelor's degree. Additionally, if you have more years of experience in the field, you will generally have a higher salary than those who are just starting out.

Another key factor that can affect your salary is your location and type of employer. Occupational therapists working in urban areas or larger cities tend to earn more than those in rural areas or small towns. Similarly, those who work in hospitals or special clinics may earn more than those in schools or private practices.

Your specialism can also impact your salary. If you specialise in high-demand areas like paediatrics, geriatrics, or mental health, you may earn more than those in other practice areas.

Smiling woman and man talking at the office
Smiling woman and man talking at the office
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types of occupational therapist

There are many different types of occupational therapists. Each type of OT specialises in a particular area and has unique skills and expertise that can benefit individuals with a range of conditions and needs. Here are the most common types of occupational therapists:

  • paediatric occupational therapists: you work with children from infancy to adolescence to help them develop the skills they need to participate in everyday activities. You may help children learn to dress themselves, use utensils, or complete schoolwork.
  • geriatric occupational therapists: in this role, you work with older adults to help them maintain their independence and quality of life. You may provide interventions to address age-related conditions like arthritis, dementia, or Parkinson's disease.
  • mental health occupational therapists: you help individuals with mental health conditions to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. You may work with individuals who have depression, anxiety, addiction, or other mental health concerns.
  • hand therapy occupational therapists: you specialise in treating conditions and injuries affecting the hands and upper extremities. You work with individuals who have carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, or tendon injuries, among other problems.
  • neurological occupational therapists: in this role, you work with individuals who have suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other neurological condition. You help these individuals re-learn essential skills like walking, talking, and performing daily tasks.

working as an occupational therapist

The specific duties of an occupational therapist include:


education and skills

Some of the academic qualifications for occupational therapists include:

  • 12 standard: you require at least a bachelor's degree to become an occupational therapist. To be accepted onto such a program, you need at least a 12-standard education in a science stream.
  • bachelor's degree: a bachelor's in occupational therapy should be enough to meet most employers' requirements. It also provides reassurance to your clients to know that their therapist is highly qualified.
  • certifications: another option is to gain a certificate in occupational therapy. This qualification has the advantage of being obtainable online, though some employers may prefer a bachelor's degree.

occupational therapist skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of an occupational therapist include:

  • interpersonal communication: you work closely with clients and their families, as well as other healthcare professionals, so it's important to be able to listen effectively, convey information clearly, and build strong relationships.
  • problem-solving and critical thinking: as an occupational therapist, you are tasked with evaluating your client's needs, identifying challenges and barriers to their progress, and developing creative solutions to help them overcome those challenges.
  • empathy and compassion: you work with clients who may be experiencing pain, frustration, or emotional distress, so it's important to understand and respond to their needs with kindness and sensitivity.
  • professional development: the field of occupational therapy is constantly evolving, and it is essential to stay up-to-date on new research, technologies, and treatment approaches to provide the best possible care for your clients.
Two woman sitting on a window sill looking at papers.
Two woman sitting on a window sill looking at papers.

FAQs about working as an occupational therapist

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of occupational therapy.

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