Finding a Fulfilling Career in Occupational Therapy

October 9th, 2014 by

finding a job in occupational therapyAs a new graduate with a master’s degree in occupational therapy, you want to find a position in which you’d not only be fulfilled at the end of the day, but where you’d have the opportunity to explore new treatments and techniques to help clients.

While applying for your license and studying for the certification exam, you should be job-hunting and sending out inquiries, hoping to feel that just-right vibe when you come across a promising position.

Starting Your Search

While part of you wants the security of guaranteed employment upon graduation, you should also be open and flexible to the few employers in the occupational therapy profession that may want to hire their staff months in advance.

According to several recent graduates programs, the best time to start searching for and applying for OT jobs would be about 1-2 months before you graduate.

So, instead of spending hours filling out applications only to be told that there are not any current openings, you should spend your time networking, polishing your resume, and honing your clinical skills at your fieldwork site. By the time you’re ready to apply for positions, you should have a thorough list of references, solid leads and a resume tailored to the places where you want to work.

Knowing What You Want

Because there’s such a range of settings where an occupational therapist can work, some of your time in graduate school should be figuring out what you want (and what you don’t) in an OT job. Some OTs prefer a fast-paced, in-patient setting with new clients every day, while others like a more community-based feel and having the same clients over a longer period of time. Each of these may appeal to you for different reasons, so be open to several options.

Other considerations included job salary, benefits, work schedule, location, flexibility and work environment. No matter what OT job you are led to, make sure it’s an environment that will allow you to be the most creative and explore different populations and settings at once so you can discover strengths as a new practitioner.

Creating Your Game Plan

Most agencies and facilities are looking to hire new OT staff which is great for our profession! Based on advice from OT professors and other young professionals offering career advice, your game plan should include:

  • Calling and speaking to the therapy director at each facility on your list.
  • Speaking with select staffing agency recruiters.
  • Researching facilities online.
  • Grooming your interview skills.

These are just a few tips to help you get started. If you’ve got one you’d like to share, please leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

About the Author:

Laina Karosic, OTR/L, graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Rehabilitation and Human Services. She then completed her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy at Ithaca College. She has worked with children and adults in clinics, homes, schools and community-based settings. Laina presented at American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA’s) national conference in 2014 discussing the role of Occupational Therapy in Sustainability. The emerging practice area of ergonomics is a particular niche of hers, and she is continuing competency and certifications within this area.

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