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MCPHS Occupational Therapy student with young patient.

Occupational Therapist Ranked #4 Best Job in the U.S. for 2018 (Glassdoor)

  • Each year, Glassdoor.com releases its list of the 50 Best Jobs in the U.S., and this year, occupational therapist is one of the top five jobs.

    That’s not surprising to faculty in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), which launched a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in September 2016 on the University’s Manchester, NH, campus.

    Faculty point to the growth of the industry and the demand for occupational therapists, as well as the overall job satisfaction enjoyed by those in the field, as some of the top reasons to consider pursuing the career.

    We sat down with Douglas Simmons, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, professor and director of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program, and Denise Finch, assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, to get their insight.

    Glassdoor recently released its fourth annual report on the best jobs in America. This year, occupational therapist ranks as #4 on the list. Surprised?

    No! Occupational therapy has been moving up in several of these rankings. With OT’s focus on helping people participate in the things most important to them, containing cost, and health promotion, more people of all ages are understanding the value of OT, seeking out OT services, and experiencing OT.

    The ranking from Glassdoor focused on a range of factors, including job satisfaction, salary, and job availability. What are you seeing right now in the OT field?

    One of our students in our current class stated that one reason he wanted to become an OT was that OTs seemed “happy.” I think when you are in a profession that works with individuals in their most vulnerable or challenging times (such as a child with a disability who participates in art class for the first time, or a teenager with depression who joins a cooking group, or the older adult trying to stay in his or her own home), and you succeed in helping them, you appreciate life and the small things you can do each day. This leads to job satisfaction. There is also a high demand for OT, especially with an aging baby boomer population wanting to stay active and stay in their homes, and with the increasing numbers of children needing services.

    What makes the occupational therapy field so exciting right now?

    The advancement in technology that helps people access environments and participate in society is one of the factors that make the field so exciting right now. For example, we recently had the inventors of the Luke Arm come to class. The Luke Arm device will change the world for so many people. We also invited another speaker to talk about using a 3-D printer to create a device that allows a child to write and play. It is just an exciting time to be an occupational therapist. These groundbreaking advances allow OTs to use their creative problem-solving skills with clients to make their lives better.

    What does it mean to you to see the role of the occupational therapist being recognized as one of the best jobs in America? How do rankings like these help promote the field?

    Well, it is definitely a media-based society, and exposure is everything! This visibility makes more people ask: What is occupational therapy and what do occupational therapists do? Rankings like these promote the field and pull in people from other fields, which is very important.

    How closely do you work with students and educators in other fields?

    We are very happy to have students with public health undergraduate degrees in our program because they help push us to think about population health needs as well as individual needs. This will drive our profession into broader practice areas.

    What’s your biggest piece of advice for someone who’s considering a future as an OT? How do they make that dream a reality?

    Look at your community hospitals, child clinics, therapy centers, and schools. See if they have an OT who will allow you to shadow them and ask questions. Also, be sure to check out information on the American Occupational Therapy Association website, which includes great information on what OT is and what we do. The fact sheets about working with children, teenagers, and adults that might have autism, low vision, work injuries, concussions, neurological disorders, or health and wellness issues are particularly helpful. And, of course, we invite you to schedule a visit to the MCPHS campus and talk to students currently in the OT program.

    Interested in a future as an OT? The School of Rehabilitation Sciences at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences prepares students for meaningful careers in occupational therapy. Earn a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy on our Manchester campus in just two years of full-time study.