Occupational Therapist Job Description

An occupational therapist (OT) is a medical specialist who treats people with developmental delays or those recovering from physical or cognitive injuries. Using a variety of approaches, OTs help patients build skills to support their everyday activities.

An occupational therapist's job description may include overseeing exercises to manage pain, adapting an environment to accommodate a person's needs, or teaching a patient to use special equipment such as a wheelchair or eating aid.

This article outlines the responsibilities and day-to-day duties of an occupational therapist.

Occupational therapist with client
Getty Images

Sample Occupational Therapy Job Description

Title: Full-time Occupational Therapist

Position Reports to: Director of Rehabilitation

Job Summary

The occupational therapist is responsible for empowering patients to participate more fully in daily tasks when this ability is compromised by a health condition. Occupational therapy is medically prescribed and involves skilled evaluation, treatment, and discharge.

A qualified candidate should have two years of experience in this practice area. They must be licensed to provide occupational therapy in the state of employment. Masters and doctoral preparation are preferred, as are OTs who are registered and in good standing with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Job Duties

Evaluation/Re-evaluation: Assesses the client’s functional abilities, including physical, emotional, cognitive, and sensory components to evaluate the necessity of skilled occupational therapy intervention. A patient’s history, context, and goals for treatment should be taken into account when determining a treatment plan.

Treatment: Helps the client achieve goals set forth in the treatment plan by providing neuromuscular reeducation, therapeutic activity, therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, self-care/home management training, development of cognitive skills, sensory integration techniques, wheelchair management, and wound care.

Modalities utilized may include biofeedback, paraffin baths, whirlpools, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.

Discharge: Ensures safety at discharge and continuation of progress by providing home exercise programs, family/caregiver instruction, recommendations for assistive equipment, and recommendations for continued therapy in a less restrictive setting.

Discharge planning should begin at the evaluation and continue through the course of treatment. Planning and coordination for discharge should occur in conjunction with physicians, social workers, other healthcare workers, and the client and family members.

Supervision: Supervises occupational therapy assistants, occupational therapy aides, and occupational therapy students in accordance with standards set by the American Occupational Therapy Association, the state of employment, and the facility.

Contribution to healthcare team: Communicates with the health team through effective documentation and charting in the patient and department records. Maintains patient confidence by keeping information confidential, keeping the work environment safe and clean, and adhering to infection control and other safety policies.

Maintenance of the occupational therapy department’s integrity: Maintains professional expertise through continued education as necessitated by licensure and as appropriate for the provision of specific treatments. Develops occupational therapy department by annually reviewing best practices. Complies with federal and state professional requirements.

Skills/Competencies

Skills:

  • Administer and evaluate standardized assessments
  • Select and oversee evidence-based interventions
  • Effectively document the occupational therapy process in compliance with state and federal regulations

Competencies:

  • Effective verbal and written communication
  • Teamwork
  • Patient-centeredness
  • Dedication to compliance
  • Dedication to best practice
  • Listening and collaboration
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Occupational Therapy Association. Occupational therapy practice framework: domain and process—fourth edition. Am J Occup Ther. 2020;74(Supplement_2):7412410010p1-7412410010p87. doi:10.5014/ajot.2020.74S2001

  2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Outpatient physical and occupational therapy services.

  3. American Occupational Therapy Association. Guidelines for supervision, roles, and responsibilities during the delivery of occupational therapy services. Am J Occup Ther. 2020;74(Supplement_3):7413410020p1-7413410020p6. doi:10.5014/ajot.2020.74S3004

  4. American Occupational Therapy Association. Guidelines for documentation of occupational therapy. Am J Occup Ther. 2018;72(Supplement_2):7212410010p1-7212410010p7. doi:10.5014/ajot.2018.72S203

  5. American Occupational Therapy Association. AOTA 2021 standards for continuing competence in occupational therapy. Am J Occup Ther. 2022;75(Supplement_3):7513410040. doi:10.5014/ajot.2021.75S3009

By Sarah Lyon, OTR/L
 Sarah Lyon, OTR/L, is a board-certified occupational therapist and founder of OT Potential.