Hot Jobs: Occupational therapistsNovember 25, 2015
Morning routines are anything but for patients in the hospital for stroke, a spinal cord injury, an amputation, or other reason that turns basic functions — like using the bathroom — into significant challenges.
“You can’t wake up, get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed, and fix a meal all by yourself anymore, and being able to give people that basic independence back is so rewarding,” said Lauren Crary, an occupational therapist in the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Crary, 26, is part of a fast-growing field responding to an increased need for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, and other illnesses and disabilities. In the Finger Lakes region, job opportunities for occupational therapists are expected to jump 17.3 percent between 2010 and 2020, with 20 annual openings, according to the New York State Labor Department of Labor.
Crary, who lives in Rochester, discovered the field while volunteering for the regional advocacy organization now known as AutismUp, where she got to work closely with an occupational therapist and then shadowed other occupational therapists at various facilities.
The job: Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.
The pay: The median annual pay for occupational therapists was $75,400 in May 2012.
The prospects: Employment of occupational therapists in the Finger Lakes region are expected to grow 17.3 percent between 2010 and 2020, with 20 annual openings.
The preparation: Occupational therapists typically have a master’s degree in occupational therapy. All states require occupational therapists to be licensed or registered.
Sources: New York State Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor