Some children require special health and medicinal care for proper development and growth. The child’s ability can be hampered due to several reasons like birth defects, injuries, physical impairment, etc., which stop him to progress normally. Raising a child with special needs is a tough task to perform. The pediatric occupational therapist is the professional who takes care of the needs and helps these children lead a normal life.
The therapy is designed in such a way that it can help the child develop the skills required for growing into an independent adult. It is important to provide the therapy as soon as possible because as the child ages, the problem becomes more complex.
How to Become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist?
Here is the stepwise procedure to become a pediatric occupational therapist.
i. Earn a Bachelor Degree
The very first step towards becoming a pediatric occupational therapist is to earn a bachelor degree. The aspirants can choose from a number of undergraduate programs and can select any majors like anatomy, biology, sociology, psychology, kinesiology, liberal arts, etc.
To get enrolled in the master’s program, it is further required to fulfill the admission requirements including completing minimum supervised experience, and cumulative GPA of more than 2.7 points.
ii. Earn a Master’s Degree
After completing the bachelor degree and fulfilling the admission criteria, the student can get enrolled in the master’s degree program. The coursework is bifurcated into the class study and fieldwork, completion of which is necessary to get the certificate. In the class study, the student learns about therapeutic measurements, assistive technologies, functional anatomy for rehabilitation, etc. Whereas, in fieldwork session, there are two levels- one of which is designed to promote competence, clinical reasoning, professionalism, etc., and the other level is about working in clinical settings to gain experience, preferably pediatric setting.
iii. Gain a License
Once you complete the course, you can sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to get the certificate. After passing the exam successfully, the aspirants become eligible to get the job and assume the OTR designation.
iv. Maintain OTR Certification
The OTR certificate is valid for 3 years only, after which, students are supposed to renew it. For license renewal, s/he has to pay the fee and complete the minimum professional development units during the three-year period.
The master’s program completes in 2 to 3 years. Whereas, the doctoral program completes in 3 years. The students can also complete dual degree programs offered by some institutes, in which, they get both bachelor’s and master’s degree.
Pediatric Occupational Therapist Job Description
Skills Required for Becoming a Pediatric OT
- As therapists need to communicate with the patients and their family members, they are expected to have good communication skills to explain patients the methods for quick-healing.
- The therapist must be flexible and must adapt to different environment and settings. They must be able to use and create different therapies according to the need of the patients, as a single plan might not work for every kid.
- These medical professional must have patience so that they can provide quality services to the children and must have good handwriting so that they can explain the designed therapy clearly.
- Along with these, the professionals must have good interpersonal skills and should be concerned about the people they are serving.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Now the question is – what does a pediatric occupational therapist do? The therapists, who specialize in this field, perform several tasks according to the condition of the disabled child or the disorder s/he is going through. Following are the pediatric occupational therapist jobs:
- Helping the children with sensory processing disorders so that they can perform and manage day-to-day activities like dressing and bathing easily.
- Disorders like Dyspraxia can affect the gross and motor movement of the child. The therapists are responsible for providing the necessary treatment to maximize the independence of the child.
- Some of the children face difficulty with movements. These children generally suffer from cerebral palsy, in which, the brain grows abnormally. The therapists design such techniques which help children develop abilities to cope-up with the difficulties and lead an independent life.
- Children who are unable to communicate or interact properly with others can also get help from pediatric OT.
- Apart from these, there are countless responsibilities of a pediatric OT like improving visual perception skills, curing learning disabilities, providing body awareness, fulfilling complex health needs, etc.
Work Settings for a Pediatric Occupational Therapist
The pediatric OT can work in several settings, including:
- Home Healthcare Services
- Schools (Elementary and Secondary)
- Hospitals (State, Private, Local)
- Nursing Care Facilities
- Other offices of speech, physical & occupational therapists, audiologists, etc.
Pediatric Occupational Therapist Salary
The pediatric occupational therapist managed to earn an average of $60,673 annually, as per payscale.com (as of October 28, 2016). The total salary of these therapists varies between $50,526 and $94,983, which includes profit sharing and bonus.
According to indeed.com, the pediatric occupational therapists earned $86,000 on an average (as of Nov 3, 2016). The average wages of the related job titles in the United States are:
|Related Job Title||Salary|
|Occupational Therapist Pediatric Outpatient||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Pediatric||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Occupational Therapy||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Hand||$92,000|
|Occupational Therapist Rehab||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist School||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Psych||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Acute||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Home Health||$94,000|
|Occupational Therapist Outpatient||$86,000|
|Occupational Therapist Outpatient Cpt||$78,000|
|Pediatric Occupational Therapist OT||$90,000|
|Early Intervention Physical Therapist||$72,000|
|Occupational Therapist Skilled||$86,000|
Information Source: indeed.com (as of Nov 3, 2016)
The above table reveals that with $94,000, Occupational Therapist Home Health earned the highest salary. Pediatric Occupational Therapist OT made $90,000. Most of the professionals with related titles were paid $86,000.
According to the BLS, job opportunities for occupational therapists are projected to grow by 27% from 2014 to 2024. This growth is greater than the national average for all the occupations taken together. There will always be a need for these therapists in different settings, and it is estimated that this will grow at faster pace.