In the United States, the average pay for an occupational therapist stands at $81,690 per year. Salaries range from C$46,616 ($34,470 USD) to C$88,782 ($65,650 USD) in Canada, £21,500 ($28,630 USD) to £41,000 ($51,164 USD) in the United Kingdom, and AU$47,363 ($35,264 USD) to AU$83,491 ($62,163 USD) in Australia. In Switzerland, salaries run between CHF80,000 ($78,849 USD) and CHF 87,000 ($85,748 USD) per year. Occupational therapists and physiologists in Norway earn, on average, NOK447,600 per year ($52,123 USD). Read below how the location of practice and experience shape the occupational therapist salary.
Occupational Therapist Salary Influencers
The compensation of occupational therapists is influenced by factors such as country of practice and whether the employer operates in the private or public sector. Typically, pay will rise as occupational therapists move from entry-level positions to those with more responsibility, seniority or supervisory functions.
Occupational therapists serve in a number of settings. Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies rely on these professionals to treat patients whose conditions have limited their mobility or function. Other types of employers include schools and clinics. As a rule of thumb, only a small percentage of occupational therapists are self-employed.
Occupational therapists work in the private and public sector. Those who work for for-profit interests may earn more than those whose employers rely on taxpayers or donors for funding. Also, in some countries, occupational therapists may work in a universal health care system.
2. Geographical Area
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Occupational Therapist Salary in the US
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says occupational therapists average salaries of $81,690 per year. One in ten make more than $116,030 per year, while a quarter earn above $96,590. According to the BLS, average salaries in “Home Health Care Services” and “Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Centers)” stood at $91,860 and $88,760 respectively.
Occupational Therapist Salary in Canada
PayScale reports that the average pay for an occupational therapist in Canada is $35.32 per hour. On an annual basis, the average is C$73,466. Earnings range between C$46,616 and C$88,782 per year.
Occupational Therapist Salary in the UK
On average, occupational therapists start between £21,500 and £25,000 per year. Those in the experienced category make between £26,000 and £34,800 per year. Highly experienced occupational therapists earn between £35,000 and £41,000 per year.
In the National Health Service, occupational therapists start at “Band 5.” Salaries in this range run between £21,909 and £28,462 annually. Specialists and those in senior positions can reach “Band 6” or “Band 7.” At these levels, pay starts at £26,302 and £31,838 respectively. Occupational therapists who become consultants can reach £40,028 or higher per year.
Occupational Therapist Salary in Australia
According to PayScale, occupational therapists in Australia make between AU$47,363 and AU$83,491. The average annual salary stands at AU$59,020.
Occupational Therapist Salary in Switzerland
Occupational therapists in Switzerland average CHF83,500 annually, or CHF6,959 per month. Minimum pay is CHF80,000 per year, or CHF 6,667 monthly. At the maximum level, the pay is CHF7,250 monthly, or CHF87,000 per year.
Occupational Therapist Salary in Norway
According to Statistics Norway, the average pay for occupational therapists in the private health and social services sector is NOK37,300 per month. On an annual basis, the pay is NOK447,600. Physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the health enterprises industry earn NOK38,100 per month, or NOK457,200 per year.
Aspiring occupational therapists obtain experience through supervised practice. This on-the-job training is generally required to complete degree programs and obtain licensure. For example, in the United States, students in master’s or doctorate programs must perform 24 weeks of fieldwork. Canadian occupational therapists must work 1,000 hours in the field to be eligible to practice. Occupational therapists may enter the field by starting as or volunteering in support roles or other positions in occupational settings.
Occupational therapy is generally a full-time occupation, with typical work weeks lasting between 35 and 40 hours per week. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 25 percent of occupational therapists work part-time. Occupational therapists log traditional work hours, usually 9 am to 5 pm, and during weekdays. On some occasions, therapists will schedule evening or weekend visits especially at homes. Typically, patients or clients are seen and treated by appointments.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
Employers and agencies afford incentives for occupational therapists to practice in certain areas. Many offer hiring or signing bonuses to new hires, with the effect of raising entry level salaries. Graduates of occupational therapy programs may obtain incentives such as student loan forgiveness for working for public agencies in underserved areas.
In Australia, Norway and Switzerland, health sector employees are entitled to paid annual leave or vacation pay. Swiss employers must afford four weeks off a year for employees. Also, in Switzerland, salaried occupational therapists participate in a three-pillar retirement system. A mix of employee and employer contributions forms the first two levels, providing up to 60 percent of total salary for retirement. In the third, employer contributions are voluntary. Government-mandated benefits for Norwegian occupational therapists include occupational pension and insurance.
In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of these professionals to rise by 27 percent, or 30,400, by 2024. While the Australian government rates job growth as very strong through November 2020, job openings in this profession through November 2019 should number between 5,001 and 10,000. Canadian Business magazine reports that, between 2009 and 2015, employment of occupational therapists in Canada increased by 32 percent. According to a January 2015 report by The Guardian magazine, approximately eight percent of occupational therapy positions in the United Kingdom and 43 percent in London were vacant.
A variety of health conditions such as autism, diabetes, arthritis and strokes will drive demand for occupational therapists. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1 in 68 children have autism. These professionals will have opportunities to treat an increasingly elderly population in many countries. For example, Statistics Norway reports the life expectancy for men jumped from 77.7 years old in 2015 to 80.4 years old in 2015; for women, life expectancy in 2015 is 84.1 years, compared with 82.5 years in 2015. In Switzerland, approximately 18 percent of the population was at least age 65 years old as of 2015.
Entrants into occupational therapy should find ample job opportunities to fulfill needs of patients trying to learn or regain essential body functions. Longer life spans and the prevalence of various physical or medical conditions will sustain demand for these professionals. You can also learn about the salary of a physical therapist if you are interested in this field. The compensation for occupational therapists will turn on experience, location and willingness to work in rural or under served areas.
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