Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase 33 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb.
The need for occupational therapists will increase as the large baby-boom population ages and people remain active later in life. Specifically, occupational therapists help senior citizens maintain their independence by recommending home modifications and strategies that make daily activities easier.
Occupational therapists also play a large role in the treatment of many conditions commonly associated with aging, such as osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Patients will continue to seek noninvasive outpatient treatment for long-term disabilities and illnesses, either in their homes or in residential care environments. In addition, medical advances now enable more patients with critical problems to survive—patients who ultimately may need extensive therapy.
Job opportunities should be good for licensed occupational therapists in all setting, particularly in acute hospital, rehabilitation, and orthopedic settings because the elderly receive most of their treatment in these settings. Occupational therapists with specialized knowledge in a treatment area also will have increased job prospects.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition