Top Online Physical Therapy Degrees & Occupational Therapist Training Programs
Physical therapists treat patients with injuries, diseases or age-related problems that impair their physical well–being. Occupational therapists help similar patients recover or improve their everyday living and working abilities. Both fields are expected to grow significantly this decade.
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Explore Physical and Occupational Therapy Degrees and Careers
Both physical and occupational therapy are education-intensive careers; you must earn a Master of Science (MS) in Physical Therapy or a Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy to practice the respective professions. However, occupational or physical therapy doctorate degrees are now typically needed to acquire jobs in these fields, especially for physical therapists.
Physical and Occupational Therapist Job Descriptions
Physical therapist and occupational therapist training prepares you for working directly with patients who are recovering from illness and accidents or who have lost mobility and movement due to age and degenerative medical conditions.
Physical therapists use a variety of different therapeutic exercise treatments – sometimes referred to as “modalities” – designed to help patients manage their pain and regain some or all of their lost movement and abilities. Patients who see physical therapists may also have had amputations or illnesses and conditions such as strokes, arthritis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease.
Occupational therapists work with patients to recover the ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and the clinics of physical, occupational and speech therapists. Schools and nursing homes now also routinely hire occupational therapists, who work both one-on-one and with small groups.
Job and Salary Outlook for Physical and Occupational Therapists
Both physical and occupational therapist positions are supposed to increase rapidly this decade, with the number of physical therapists growing by 36% and the number of occupational therapists growing by 29%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median pay for a physical therapist in 2014 was $82,390, while occupational therapists made a median salary of $78,810, according to the BLS.
Degrees and Certificates for Physical and Occupational Therapists
Most physical therapists have a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Some programs award a Master of Physical Therapy degree, although that is a relatively rare. Most programs require degree candidates to have first earned a bachelor’s degree, often in areas such as physiology or biology. Doctoral programs typically include coursework in biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience and pharmacology.
Most occupational therapists must earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy in order to secure a job in the field. Some allied health colleges and universities also offer doctorates in occupational therapy. Typically, a master’s degree in occupational therapy will take two years to complete.