Looking for Men in Occupational Therapy? You May Need to Look Again

A Look at Trends in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is an explosive area and highly rewarding career field. 10 best U.S. jobs national surveys ranks occupational therapy as one of the fastest growing career fields among health therapy careers. The same is true for the Bureau of Labor Statistics which promises steady growth in this field through 2020.

Other top choices for phenomenal success in the health therapy field in the near future include physical and respiratory therapy. That's good news if you are an aspiring student looking for an area of health therapy to specialize in.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

The public is still learning about occupational therapy, and its role in rehabilitation according to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). While physical therapy has been around for a long time, the benefits of which are well-known and established, many people "are just beginning to realize occupational therapy is an area of practice with a dozens of opportunities," including those where the skills one can use to practice are complex and challenging according to Brent Braveman, who is the director of the department of rehabilitation services at the University of Texas.

Typically women have excelled in occupational therapy. There are also many women in health therapy fields part from OT, including physical therapy, art therapy, and music therapy. Where does that leave all of the men?

Government statistics show that men comprise only 6 percent of the current occupational therapy workforce. Among occupational therapy assistants, men comprise just 8.1 percent of the OT field.

Why is that?

OT Statistics

Occupational therapy is a very lucrative field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Occupational Therapists making a median average salary of $72,300, which an employment outlook showing faster than average growth through 2020. In fact, the growth rate for occupational therapists nearly matches that of other popular therapists, including physical therapists, at 33 percent. Few other occupations are as highly favored as OT with regard to employment outlook in the coming years. This might be because many people are not quite sure what occupational therapy is, particularly when compared with physical therapy. Still others believe that occupational therapy is not as exciting a career as physical therapy.

Occupational therapy concerns itself more with the activities of daily living, suggesting that occupational therapists may need to become more involved with personal issues including bathing, dressing and other lifestyle habits. This may require some intimacy and caring for patients, at a level of care that some males may not be "comfortable" with.

However, occupational therapy also allows the therapist to focus therapeutic techniques on the entire person, rather than focusing on one particular element of care. This whole body approach to healthcare often draws in a particular type of caregiver.

Health therapists that truly appreciate the type of care that OT requires enjoy providing total healthcare to their patients. Much of what occupational therapists provide is similar to the type of care that a personal physician might provide, on a different level.

Type of Practice

Occupational therapists do have the ability to focus or specialize in a type of practice. Some occupational therapists choose to focus or specialize on working with school age children, while others specialize in helping patients recover from injuries sustained from work. Occupational therapists may also work in any type of environment of their choosing. Some will choose to work in a hospital, others in schools, private practice, rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, nursing homes, with the disabled, in career centers, while still others may have a private practice.

It is not uncommon for occupational therapists to work with other types of health therapists, or to consult. Many occupational therapists find the best way to build their practice is by networking with a group of healthcare practitioners that can provide them with referrals.

Occupational therapy is a wonderful field for both men and women, providing unique challenges and opportunities for advancement. If you are the type of person interested in total body health, then occupational therapy might be exactly the type of health therapy career you are looking for.

Consider exploring this career in more detail as you explore the realm of health therapy further.

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