Physical And Occupational Therapy: Careers That Give Back


Physical and occupational therapists enjoy rich careers in which they get to give back, helping others grow and strengthen in a range of ways, from developing gross motor skills used for walking, running, and lifting, to mastering daily tasks such as writing, eating, or learning to use a computer.

Some people come to physical and occupational therapists to recover from an accident or injury while others have sought the care of people in this field due to a disability they’ve had since birth. In either case, working with the patients is a mutually beneficial and enriching experience.

Qualifications For OT And PT Careers

To be an occupational therapist, you typically need a Masters degree in the field, while to be a PT you need to receive the title of Doctor of Physical Therapy through a qualified program. While these programs take some time to complete, now is an excellent time to pursue them as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the outlook for these positions is strong, with both fields growing much faster than average.

The growth in both of these fields is related to advancements in all other areas of medicine. From premature infants who wouldn’t have survived birth and early infancy in the past to advancements in trauma medicine that saves lives after accidents or geriatric medicine helping us all to live longer – many people treated by these other fields end up requiring the assistance of physical and occupational therapists.

An Average Workday

OTs and PTs perform a range of tasks and may work in many different settings. Some provide care in hospitals, while others work in schools, independent practices, or client’s homes. PTs often work alongside or integrate aspects of massage therapy into their work, helping clients loosen tense muscles and heal underlying injuries. Both fields require extensive knowledge of human anatomy, particularly musculature, and massage work ahead of other PT exercises can warm up the muscles and increase motion and flexibility.

Compared to PTs, OTs do work that tends to have more specific goals. Often they work with patients to help them relearn vocational skills after a stroke or help them build strength to perform activities of daily living independently, such as bathing or preparing food.

You can see the work of OTs and PTs at work in the life of Tracy Morgan, a famous comedian who was badly hurt in a 2014 car accident. Morgan has received extensive PT and OT to help him adjust to using a wheelchair and recover many daily living skills lost due to head trauma.

Finally, if you’re considering work as an OT or PT, you’ll be happy to know that individuals in these fields love their jobs. Most report great satisfaction in having an active job that keeps them away from their desks and allows them to help others. With such a high level of job satisfaction and significant field growth predicted in coming years, these are ideal careers for determined and committed individuals.