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How much do occupational therapists make?
The Bureau of Labor Standards estimates the median annual wages of occupational therapists at $70,680 a year or $33.98 an hour as of May 2009.
The median wages for the middle 50 percent of occupational therapists is $69.630 a year or $33.48 an hour. The median wages for the bottom ten percent of occupational therapists is $45,340 a year or $21.80 an hour, and the median wages for bottom 25 percent is $57,230 or $27.51 an hour. The median wage for the top ten percent of occupational therapists is $100,430 a year or $48.28 an hour, and the median wages for top 25 percent is $84,150 a year or $40.46 a hour.
The type of industry and the geographical location are two major factors that influence occupational therapist salary levels.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Brian Kelley
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Wage Comparison by Industry
The biggest employers of occupational therapists are general medical and surgical hospitals, elementary and secondary school, nursing care facilities, and home health care services. Twenty-nine percent of occupational therapists find employment in ambulatory healthcare services, making this sector the largest employer.
The highest pay for occupational therapists is in home health care services, with an annual mean wage of $81,360 and an hourly mean wage of $39.12. The other top paying industries for occupational therapists include employment services, offering average annual wages of $80,490 and mean hourly wages of $38.70, offices of physicians offering median annual wages of $78,660 and mean hourly wages of $37.82, and nursing care facilities offering median annual wages of $75,710 and mean hourly wages of $36.40.
Some occupational therapists are also self-employed, treating clients referred by other health professionals and providing contract or consulting services to nursing care facilities, schools, and home healthcare agencies. Such freelancers earn pay on a per visit basis, and very often claim reimbursement from the patient’s insurance.
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Wage Comparison by Location
An occupational therapist's salary also depends on the location. The highest concentration of occupation therapists is in Pennsylvania, but the therapists there earn only $66,500 a year or $31.97 an hour on the average.
Occupational therapists earn the most in California, with mean annual wages of $82,610 and mean hourly wages of $39.72. Other top paying states include Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland, and Texas. El Paso, Texas is the highest paying metropolitan area for occupational therapists, with annual mean wages of $96,470 and average hourly wages of $46.38. Other high pay metropolitan areas are San Francisco, San Mateo, and Redwood City California, Laredo Texas, Las Vegas and Paradise Nevada, and Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura California.
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Occupational therapists held about 97,840 jobs as of May 2009. Future job prospects remain bright owing to the increasing number of individuals with disabilities or limited functions, and the increasing elderly population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the profession to grow by 26 percent through year 2018, which is faster than average for most other occupations.
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Therapists.” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm. Retrieved 02 January 2011.
- PayScale.com. "Occupational Therapy Careers." http://blogs.payscale.com/salarystories/2007/07/job-description.html. Retrieved 02 January 2011.