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Occupational Therapist Salary in the US 2023

Occupational Therapist Salary in the US

Occupational therapy is a demanding yet fulfilling profession. Occupational therapists (OTs) assist patients who are wounded, ill, or incapacitated in developing, regaining, or improving the abilities necessary for daily living. People who work in this area often make a good living while doing what they love. In the United States, occupational therapists (OTs) made an average yearly pay of $84,950 as of 2019. Find out the occupational therapist salary in the US by reading on.

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occupational therapist salary in the US
occupational therapist salary in the US

What do Occupational Therapists do?

People of all ages with physical and cognitive challenges and peculiarities are treated by occupational therapists. They start by speaking with the patient, their teachers, their family, or other caregivers to comprehend their needs. To set goals and create a therapy plan, they then evaluate the patient’s physical, sensory, emotional, and cognitive abilities. Together, the patient and the OT work to acquire and improve abilities, and they continuously assess the patient’s development.

Practitioners of occupational therapy may be responsible for:

  • Assisting patients in discovering new ADL techniques
  • Making patient-specific solutions that encourage independence and recovery
  • Assisting patients with daily routine development, memory techniques, and problem-solving
  • Demonstrating how to apply assistive technology to patients
  • Patients how to accomplish chores pain-free
  • Working with patients who have cognitive and developmental disorders such autism, Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy
  • Assisting people with physical impairments brought on by aging or trauma, such as amputations, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or strokes
  • OTs create unique treatment plans for each patient based on their needs. For instance, occupational therapy supports those with autism spectrum condition in bettering their motor, social, and response to stimuli skills.

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occupational therapist salary
occupational therapist salary

What Qualifications Are Required for Occupational Therapy?

You will gain practical knowledge of assessment and treatment techniques in OT school. There are some personal and professional skills you may acquire though before you start. The finest occupational therapists are good communicators who understand how to work well in teams. They are innovative problem-solvers who create solutions that are unique to each client. They exhibit flexibility and patience while having empathy for their customers.

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Occupational Therapy Career Pathways in the US

You must complete both an undergraduate and graduate degree program, as well as the necessary licensing examinations, to become an occupational therapist. Six to seven years in school are what you may anticipate, divided into four years for an undergraduate degree and two to three years for a graduate degree (if you are attending school full-time). The steps to becoming an occupational therapist are listed below.


It’s recommended to obtain your OT bachelor’s degree in a field that is relevant to occupational therapy, such as biology, health science, or psychology, if you intend to pursue this professional path. Before enrolling to graduate school, you might need to complete prerequisite courses if you received your bachelor’s in an unrelated discipline.

You just need to complete your associate’s degree in occupational therapy if you want to work as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) rather than an OT.


Obtaining a graduate degree from an approved university is the next stage. A Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree are also options. The curriculum for both the MOT and the OTD will contain the fieldwork hours you need to take the licensing exam in addition to the needed coursework.

It is advisable to pursue an OTD rather than a MOT if you are interested in both clinical practice and advocacy and leadership responsibilities. An OTD normally takes three years to complete but a MOT may only take two years if you are enrolled in school full-time. Both degrees are entry-level.

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To be authorized to practice occupational therapy in the United States, you must pass the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) test after finishing either a MOT or an OTD.

It’s crucial to check with the occupational therapy regulatory body in your state as state licensure requirements can differ.


Depending on the curriculum and school you select, it should take two to three years to obtain a graduate degree in occupational therapy if you already hold a bachelor’s degree. You should budget between 30 and 90 days for preparation and the NBCOT exam.

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Occupational Therapy Job Prospects and Opportunities in the US

On the list of the Top Healthcare Jobs for 2022, occupational therapy is ranked #11, according to U.S. News & World Report. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational therapists’ median annual compensation was $86,280 in 2020, and employment of occupational therapists is anticipated to increase by 17 percent between 2020 and 2030. During that time, an estimated 23,000 positions are anticipated to become available.

Occupational therapists work in rehabilitation facilities where they may collaborate with physical therapists, audiologists, and speech therapists in a 25 percent to 29 percent ratio. The remaining 46% are employed in settings such as schools, skilled nursing institutions, home healthcare services, and other places. These figures show that there is a rising need for occupational therapists and that this profession provides competitive pay in a variety of settings.

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Occupational Therapist Salary in the US

As of December 27, 2022, the average occupational therapist pay in the United States is $95,047, although the normal range is between $87,064 and $103,542. Salary ranges can vary significantly depending on a variety of crucial aspects, including schooling, credentials, supplementary talents, and the length of time you’ve been working in a given field.

occupational therapist salary
occupational therapist salary

Top 3 States with the Best Paying Occupational Therapy Jobs in the U.S.

We’ve discovered three states where occupational therapist salary in the US is higher than the national average. Tennessee is at the top of the list, followed closely by Hawaii and Massachusetts in second and third. By 2.4%, Massachusetts exceeds the national average, while Tennessee continues this pattern by exceeding the national average by a further $4,223 (4.4%).

The chances for financial growth by moving to a new area as an occupational therapist require some caution because only a small number of states pay higher than the national average.

Frequently Asked Questions

What area of Occupational Therapy is the most Lucrative?

The BLS reports that OTs who work in home healthcare make the maximum money. Home health care OTs made an average salary of $102,640 per year in 2021. OTs that provide home healthcare often do it in the homes of their patients. Nursing homes have the second-highest paying OT positions.

Who earns more money, PT or OT?

Occupational therapists concentrate on assisting patients in mastering daily life skills. After an injury or sickness, physical therapists concentrate on assisting patients in regaining range of motion and reducing discomfort. An OT makes, on average, $83,200 a year. A PT makes an average yearly pay of $86,850.

In the US, are Occupational Therapists in demand?

From 2021 to 2031, occupational therapist employment is expected to expand by 14%, substantially faster than the average for all occupations.

Is OT preferable than Nursing?

Occupational therapy doesn't provide as many job options as nursing, but it also pays better (in most cases). The freedom to work in various positions and environments is one of the most amazing aspects of being a nurse. Direct patient care or indirect patient care can be used to distinguish between these positions.



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