Occupational therapy is a field of study that prepares students to work with patients suffering from injuries, disabilities, or illnesses and need assistance relearning skills to complete daily activities. An online certificate in occupational therapy will prepare graduates to work as assistants or aides in the field. To become an actual therapist, you would need to complete a master’s program in occupational therapy. Classes commonly include medical terminology, psychology, therapeutic methods, assistive technology, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, and geriatric practice, to name a few. Jobs may be available with hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, home health agencies, and other health care facilities.
Types of Occupational Therapy Certificates
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy certificate programs online will help prepare you with the knowledge and skills you need to work with therapists, assisting patients in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, to name a few options. Students will gain an understanding of medical terminology, clinical practice, therapeutic methods, psychology, disabilities, therapeutic technology, and communication for health professionals. If you are interested in attending this type of certificate program, please keep the following common criteria in mind:
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Transcript or GED test scores
- Application form and fee
Vocational certificates in occupational therapy assisting can take one to two years to complete, depending on the number of courses included in the program. Possible transfer credits, any breaks taken, and your level of enrollment throughout the course of the program will also influence time to completion. Whether you already work in the health care industry or are completely new to it, an occupational therapy certificate program can prepare you for a career in a growing field. While online students may not have the face-to-face interaction that on-campus students do, the virtual learning platform utilizes chat, discussion boards, streaming video, and virtual meeting technology to help engage students in the educational experience. In addition, clinical practice courses help students gain real world experience, but can be arranged remotely.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Graduates who earn a certificate in occupational therapy or physical therapy are prepared to work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and rehab facilities. In addition to completing an accredited program, they will need to gain their licensure. This is offered through the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy and requires the passage of an exam. Typically continuing education courses will also be a part of maintaining licensure. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports very strong job prospects for those trained in this field. In fact, the demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase by 43% from 2010 to 2020. This is nearly triple the 14% growth expected for jobs overall during this projection period.
In 2012, the average annual wage reported to the BLS for occupational therapy assistants was $53,090. Those who worked for home health care services earned the highest salaries at a mean of $60,820. However, the majority of positions were found with health practitioners’ offices. Please also keep in mind, these are only estimates. Actual pay and job openings will depend on a number of factors such as level of experience, geographical location, and the specific employer.