How do I Choose the Best Occupational Therapy Programs?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2018
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There are four items to consider when choosing the best occupational therapy programs: program length, education level, career path, and overall cost. An occupational therapist works with people who have disabilities or are recovering from a long illness, helping them to recover through daily work. Occupational therapy programs are available at the college, university undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. While all four options will result in academic credentials in occupational therapy, it is important to review the different programs and decide which is best for you and your career goals. The option selected determines the job opportunities available to you.

An occupational therapy program at the college level is two to three years in length. These programs are often offered part time, allowing students to work and study at the same time. Part-time programs usually take twice as long to complete as full-time programs. The undergraduate degree is four years long. In order to qualify for admissions to a master's degree, candidates must have completed a bachelor's degree. The master's program is an additional two years. A doctoral degree is after the master's and is at least another two years, for a total of eight years of school, before candidates can begin their careers.


The career paths available for someone who completed occupational therapy programs at the college level are primarily front-line staff positions, working directly with clients to help them follow the plan provided by the occupational therapist. Any career advancement into management or supervisory levels requires additional training. Many people find this type of work is the most challenging and rewarding. The primary motivation to work as an occupational therapist is to help people, and client services is the best way to see the rewards of those efforts.

The occupational therapy programs available at the university level are designed to train candidates for managerial or professional positions. The career paths available include professional work for a government agency or health services firm. Candidate with graduate degrees can work for universities, hospitals, and research services firms.

As with everything, cost is a determining factor when looking for the best occupational therapy programs. Look at the total cost of the different programs and then compare that to the salary available for the positions requiring that level of education. A cost-benefit analysis may reveal that the most economical decision is to complete the first level of college or university, find employment, pay off any student loans, and then pursue further education. Remember that the best program is one that both challenges and allows you to experience success.



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