How Long Does it Take to Become an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational therapy is a helping profession that utilizes empathy, problem-solving abilities, and in-depth knowledge of human behaviour to assist patients in regaining their independence and enhancing their quality of life.

The job outlook for occupational therapists is bright, with a projected 14 percent increase in demand between 2021 and 2031.

Over the next decade, the demand for occupational therapists will average 10,100 new jobs per year.

Many vacancies will arise because people leave their current fields for other opportunities or retire.

Although becoming an occupational therapist is lengthy and challenging, the rewards are well worth the effort.

Get ready to embark on a fulfilling journey that will positively impact the lives of others and provide you with a lifelong sense of purpose.

Who is an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational therapists are medical experts who focus on occupational science and treatment.

As an occupational therapist, you’ll work with people who have trouble performing routine tasks due to impairments caused by sickness, injury, ageing, or other chronic conditions.

Occupational therapy aims to get people back to doing what they enjoy. The term “occupational therapy” was coined to describe the practice of helping people with these tasks.

Is Being An Occupational Therapist A Good Career Path?

Yes. It is. Working as an Occupational Therapist is a beautiful option because of the variety of job settings available, the high compensation, and the adaptability of the schedule.

There will be challenges, but you can help others and make a difference.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a bright future for occupational therapists, with employment increasing by 18% between 2018 and 2028.

Occupational therapists are in high demand because of the aging population and the wide range of venues in which they are used, including hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation facilities.


Occupational therapists can anticipate a faster-than-average job growth rate than the average professional over the next decade.

They can expect to make a comfortable living, and their earnings can grow with time, expertise, and credentials.

How To Become an Occupational Therapist

1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree:

Becoming an occupational therapist requires formal training, hands-on experience, and official certification.

A bachelor’s degree in biology, psychology, or kinesiology will get you started in this career.

It takes about four years to finish this undergraduate program, give or take, depending on the school and the student’s course load.

2. Obtain a Master’s Degree:

A master’s degree in occupational therapy is required after completing a bachelor’s degree. This post-secondary education typically requires an additional two to three years to complete.

It’s worth noting that some schools offer accelerated degree programs that let students get both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years.

Becoming an occupational therapist requires extensive study and preparation.

Occupational therapy master’s degree curriculums include various topics, from human anatomy and physiology to therapeutic methods and clinical research.

Students in these courses learn how to evaluate client needs, create individualized treatment plans, and implement those plans.

3. Obtain a License:

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam is normally required to obtain a license in most states.

This comprehensive exam assesses the knowledge and competency of aspiring occupational therapists and is a crucial step toward obtaining licensure.

You need to apply for the NBCOT exam and present documentation of your education and fieldwork experience before you can take the test.

The state where you intend to work may have additional requirements or licensing fees, so staying current on the latest information is essential.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational therapy programs can range from a few months to several years, depending on criteria such as the student’s commitment level and whether or not they choose to study full- or part-time.

A master’s degree program can be completed in two to three years, while an average bachelor’s degree takes four years.

It’s crucial to factor in the time commitment to becoming an occupational therapist while plotting out your educational path.

An additional two to three years may be required of those who want to get a doctorate in occupational therapy.

Although a Ph.D. degree is not required to work as an occupational therapist, doing so might lead to better career prospects in research and education.

Factors That Can Affect the Duration to Become an Occupational Therapist

The time it takes to earn your degree can also be affected by the accessibility of practicum and internship opportunities.

Fieldwork placements in some programs may be limited, causing delays or forcing students to look for alternatives outside their school.

Finally, the time it takes to become an occupational therapist might be affected by your circumstances and commitments, such as financial obligations or family duties.

Considering these things and seeking academic counselors for help as you plan your educational path is crucial.

How To Speed Up The Duration To Become An Occupational Therapist

If you have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline but would like to work as an occupational therapist, you can do so through accelerated or bridge programs.

These courses are structured to help those without a traditional occupational therapy background get the training they need to practice legally.

It is possible to earn a master’s degree in as little as 12-18 months through accelerated programs that compress the required coursework and clinical experiences.

However, those who have a bachelor’s degree in a similar profession but want to earn a master’s in occupational therapy can benefit from bridge programs.

Students can earn their master’s degree faster through one of these programs since they build on their prior learning and work experience.

How Much Does An Occupational Therapist Earn?

As of July 2023, ZipRecruiter reports that an Occupational Therapist in the United States can expect an average monthly salary of $7,946.

The salary of an occupational therapist may differ from one area to another and from one practice setting to another. Obtaining more specialized or advanced training might also increase one’s salary.

Occupational therapy is a satisfying profession and an excellent way to make a difference in people’s lives and the world at large.

If you enjoy helping others, finding solutions to problems, and having an in-depth knowledge of human nature, you might consider becoming an occupational therapist.

FAQs on How Long Does it Take to Become an Occupational Therapist

Is it hard to learn occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy college is challenging, yes. Nevertheless, so are programs leading to careers in physical therapy, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant work, etc. It’s only fair that healthcare degrees are rigorous.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Occupational Therapist in the UK?

An occupational therapy degree can be earned in as little as three years of full-time study or as much as six years of part-time study. A Master’s degree can be earned in one to two years of full-time study at the graduate level.

What do occupational therapists do?

Occupational therapists focus on patients with impairments due to disease, injury, or old age. Clients receive assistance acquiring and maintaining the abilities necessary for independent living and gainful employment.

Why is it called occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy aims to get people back to doing the things they enjoy in life. The term “occupational therapy” was coined to describe the practice of helping people with these tasks.


Becoming an occupational therapist requires a significant time investment in education, clinical experiences, and licensure.

It typically starts with obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field, followed by a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

The duration of these programs can vary, with bachelor’s degrees taking around four years and master’s degrees taking an additional two to three years.

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Paschal Uchechukwu
Paschal Uchechukwu

Paschal Uchechukwu Christain is a professional and passionate SEO writer on Education, including homeschool, college tips, high school, and travel tips.

He has been writing articles for over 5 years. He is the Chief Content Officer at School & Travel.

Paschal Uchechukwu Christain holds a degree in Computer Science from a reputable institution. Also, he is passionate about helping people get access to online money-making opportunities.

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