Occupational Therapy supports individuals by focusing on everyday interventions that help them achieve their goals. As an Occupational Therapist (OT), you can support people of all ages by assisting them with activities in their everyday lives.
Depending on whether you choose a school-based or an outpatient OT profession, the services and supports you provide will vary.
School-Based vs Outpatient OT: How To Become an OT
To become an Occupational Therapist, you will need to obtain a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and complete the required fieldwork.
You’ll then need to pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam and apply for a license. This allows you to practice in either a classroom, where you’ll work with children throughout the school day, or as an outpatient provider.
School-Based vs Outpatient OT: Which Is Best for Me?
Once you have your Occupational Therapy license, you can begin to map your career path. You may have the opportunity to work as a school-based OT or an outpatient OT:
School-Based Occupational Therapy
School-based OTs work with children of all ages to help them develop physical, cognitive, and sensory skills that allow them to become more self-sufficient and obtain academic-based goals. A child may need Occupational Therapy for a number of reasons, including academic or social-emotional support, as they navigate their education.
As a school-based OT, you can help children develop essential skills, with fun and engaging activities throughout their school day and in their classroom. They may need assistance keeping their desk space organized or regulating the transition from subject to subject.
You will need to collaborate with the student’s school and participate in IEP (Independent Education Program) development and execution. The goal of a school-based OT is to work with children and their schools to help them be as successful and as independent as possible, while supporting their educational program. A school-based therapy work schedule coincides with the school calendar.
Outpatient Occupational Therapy
As an outpatient OT, you may work with children and adults of all ages to address their overall well-being and help them become more self-sufficient as they navigate their day-to-day lives. This can include hand strength, rehabilitation, fine motor skills, sensory development, and more.
Outpatient OTs can also work with individuals as they reacclimate to their roles following an injury. Focusing on activities of daily living (ADLs) and making it possible to function in an independent fashion is always important. These services will occur in a clinic, where patients will work with the OT to use equipment and develop effective interventions.
Build Your School-Based OT Career Alongside PTS
Before applying for an OT position, it’s important to understand your career goals. For example, ask yourself if you’d like to work with children or adults and in what setting you’d prefer to work in.
If you’re interested in developing a school-based profession, you can work with an agency, like Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS). At PTS, we place OTs in our partnering school districts to work directly with students throughout the school day.
Placements are determined by your preferences and once you have your placement, we go with you. This allows us to provide continued support by facilitating communication and collaboration between you and other providers, parents, or administrators.
If you are interested in providing OT services in a school-based setting, apply to work alongside PTS today.