The practice of occupational therapy means the therapeutic use of everyday life activities (occupations) with individuals or groups for the purpose of participation in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community and other settings. Occupational therapy services are provided to those who have or are at risk of developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or other participation restriction. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory and other related aspects of performance in a variety of contexts to support engagement in everyday life activities that affect health, wellbeing, and quality of life (AOTA, 2004).
The need for occupational therapists in the United States is urgent. Current U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates the nation wide shortage of Occupational Therapy personnel through 2020 to be between 34-37%. Because the demand for occupational therapy services out distances the supply of qualified personnel in Occupational Therapy, the employment picture is excellent. New CSUDH Occupational Therapy graduates typically have in excess of four employment offers at graduation and frequently a sign-on bonus is included as an employment incentive. Career opportunities exist in many areas of practice. The most popular practice areas are: Pediatrics in the Schools System, Acute and Long term Rehabilitation, Community Mental Health and In-Patient Behavior Health, Health Promotion and Illness Prevention and Geriatric Rehabilitation. Salary range varies with the type of practice setting. New graduates from the CSUDH Program enter practice at an annual salary of approximately $60,000-$80,000 with excellent benefits and working conditions.