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How to Become an Occupational Therapist in Canada

Occupational Therapist Job in Canada is both interesting and highly rewarding.

All you need to know about occupational therapist job is discussed in this article, giving you in-dept knowledge as regards this noble profession.

However, the first place to start is understanding what Occupational therapy is. By definition Occupational therapy (OT) is a profession in the healthcare sector.

It is basically the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful life activities, and occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities.

Occupational therapy is an allied health profession, practice by those who qualify as occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants (OTA).

In addition, it is a health care system that helps to solve the problems that interfere with an individual’s ability to do the normal everyday things that are important to them, things like:

  • Self-care:
    • Getting dressed
    • Eating
    • Moving around the house
  • Being productive:
    • Going to work or school
    • Participating in the community
  • Leisure activities:
    • Sports
    • Gardening
    • Social activities.

Occupational therapy has the capacity to prevent a problem or help cushion its effects.

In this article

Who are Occupational therapists and where do they work?

Occupational therapists are health professionals who primarily provide occupational therapy services. Therefore, Occupational therapists, also referred to as OTs, assesses a person’s circumstance by evaluating evidence-based approaches and applying specialized knowledge and skills to proscribe a course of preventive or corrective action to help them lead a more productive and satisfying live.

Where can Occupational therapists work?

Occupational therapist finds employment in diverse sectors and areas, some of which include the following:

Home and Community: This refers to community mental health centres, clinics, home care, community action groups, private practices, workers compensation boards, health boards, halfway houses, home groups and vocational programs.

Health Institutions: such as; Hospitals, care facilities, rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, mental health centres, correctional institutions, recreation centres, schools, universities and colleges, research centers.

Industry and business: Corporations, insurance companies, rehabilitation companies and architectural firms.

Government: OT’s can find employment at all levels of government participating in the areas of health promotion, accessibility, vocational/health planning, disability prevention/management and international rehabilitation program development.

How to Become an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapy is a regulated health profession; therefore, intending therapists must meet the registration requirements of any of the provincial regulatory body in Canada.

Additionally, to be an occupational therapist you must be educated at a higher institution and completed a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised fieldwork experience or on-the-job training.

Likewise, the accreditation standards put in place by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) only accepts a master’s degree in occupational therapy as the least academic criteria for the entry-level OT in Canada.

To decide on any of the occupational therapy education programs CAOT advise that you get in touch with the university for admission requirements, course descriptions and curriculum.

Also, candidates applying to all other province aside from Quebec must successfully complete the
National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam(NOTCE), as a registration requirement.

In addition, in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, occupational therapy career is currently not a regulatory health profession. Therefore, you do not need to complete the NOTCE before you can practice in the provinces.

Occupational therapist assistant (OTA)

Occupational therapy assistant or support personnels are professionals with job-related competencies and skills that can support occupational therapists in the discharge of their services.

Therefore, the job of the occupational therapist assistant is supervised by the occupational therapist.  Nevertheless, the Occupational therapist assistant is not a regulated profession; therefore the educational requirements are quite generalized. Thus, there is no entry exam like the NOTCE.

Similarly, many accredited Occupational therapist assistant programs, are available in colleges across Canada. Furthermore, information on the programs for occupational therapist assistants are available in the link: Accredited educational programs for occupational therapist assistants

Education Requirement to Become an OT

To become an occupational therapist in Canada, you must have at minimum a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy awarded by an accredited institution. You may likewise enter the profession with a doctoral degree.

However, to be admitted into an occupational therapy program, you typically must have a bachelor’s degree and coursework, including biology and physiology.

Moreover, a lot of programs require a candidate to have volunteering experience or work experience in occupational therapy.

OT Job Description

Firstly, the job of Occupational therapists is to help people experiencing difficulties in their everyday activities. Thus, they assist people who have disability in their body, those experiencing change in functioning or have barriers relating to their social or physical environment.

Consequently, Occupational therapists are often employed in community programs and private practices or provide services for medical or legal evaluations. Those in private practice also offer consulting services to government bodies

Similarly, Occupational therapists are regulated by their provincial regulatory body in Canada, with the duties of governing the activities of occupational therapy in that province.

In addition, the occupational therapist ultimate duty is to the occupational therapy practice, which entails; client care, education, research, administration and consultation.

Duties of an Occupational Therapist

  • Firstly, evaluate an individual’s ability to function in areas as self-care, work, study and leisure.
  • Secondly, decides on the best possible action for a person’s discharge, work, home or school management, change of programs, or return to the community.
  • Thirdly, assist in the socio adjustment and implementation of intervention programs
  • Fourthly, help clients manage stress by administering self-management skills
  • Also, assess individual’s vocational capabilities and help them to create new work related skills
  • In addition, create and manage health promotion activities and disability prevention strategies.
  • Furthermore, design self-help actions to train or retrain clients in their daily living activities
  • Lastly, check on the progress of clients and adjust program if necessary.

Potential Employers

Occupational therapists often are employed by organizations that are in the business of helping people develop, regain, and also, improve skills necessary for daily living, work and other activities. Thus, Occupational therapists work with such organizations as:

  • Community agencies
  • Hospitals,
  • Continuing care facilities,
  • Rehabilitation centres and clinics
  • Elementary and high schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Municipal, regional or federal government agencies
  • Insurance agencies
  • Professional organizations
  • Self-employment

How Much Salary do Occupational Therapists Earn?

What occupational therapists can earn varies and this depends on several factors like the level of education, level of work experience, place or organization of employment, track record, skill level and many more.

What is the salary of an Occupational Therapist in Alberta?

  • Alberta Wage and Salary Survey statistics in 2011 reveals that Albertans who work in the Occupational Therapy career earn an average wage between C$32.99/hour and C$48.00/hour.

 How much does an occupational therapist earn in Canada

  • Service Canada reveals that the average income of workers in the Occupational Therapy career in Canada is C$50,057/year.

How much does an Occupational Therapist earn in the United States

  • Statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, says the average salary of OT’s is $72,320/year.

Furthermore, the least 10% of salaries for Occupational Therapists are less than $48,920/year. Meanwhile; the top 10% are above $102,520/year.

Necessary Skills required to Enter the Occupational Therapy Career

To be an effective occupational therapist, you must have some good set of characteristics and skills; these are skills, which will help you to be competent and efficient at doing your job.

In addition, are personality traits, by which you can maintain a good attitude and disposition towards your work.

Thus, these skills are meant to help you endure the ups and downs that may occur in the course of your career as an occupational therapist.

Some of these skills and traits will include:

  • Good communicate skills
  • Being an attentive listener to both patients and team members
  • Excellent relational skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Ability to be Patient with people who are sick, disabled or injured
  • Have a compassionate and empathetic character
  • Able to work alone or with little supervision
  • Very trustworthy

Other related Careers to Occupational Therapy

The following careers are closely related to Occupational Therapist, because they technically employ similar skills, level of competencies, duties and also responsibilities.

  • Osteopathic Physician
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Recreation Therapist
  • Registered Nurse

Scholarships for Studying a Degree in Occupational Therapy

Students who study one of the major university courses awarding degree in occupational therapy can get scholarships in Canada and the United States. Therefore, scholarships can be found in the following programs:

  • Exercise Science
  • Kinesiology
  • Psychology

Becoming an Occupational Therapist: Applicable Majors

In other to qualify as an occupational therapist, you must study one of the under listed majors in the university, here is a good starting point to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

  • Exercise Science
  • Kinesiology
  • Psychology

Which universities in Canada offer courses leading to a degree in Occupational therapy?

Programs listed by these universities are accredited by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT).

Nevertheless, please make sure to contact the individual universities directly at the address: Universities in Canada that offer an occupational therapist program  for further detailed information and instructions regarding the entrance requirements, admission policies and program syllabus.

  • Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy University Programs ACOTUP
  • University of British Columbia
  • Uni Alberta
  • University of Manitoba
  • Uni Toronto
  • Western Ontario university
  • McMaster University
  • Queen’s University
  • Université d’Ottawa
  • Université de Montréal
  • McGill University
  • Université Laval
  • Sherbrooke Université
  • Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
  • Dalhousie University