Occupational therapists help people whose capabilities have been impaired by illness, injury, developmental disorders, emotional or psychological disorders or the aging process.
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People in this occupation:
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 1,000
N/A - Data not available
Occupational therapists may specialize in working with specific populations such as children or adults, or persons with distinct problems such as dementia, traumatic brain injury and chronic pain. They may also provide special interventions such as return-to-work programs.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, day programs, home-care programs, schools and industry. They also work in settings where clients live or work or in community settings (where clients participate in leisure activities).
Employees generally work 40 hours per week during standard office hours, however, evening, weekend and shift work may also be required.
Work in this field can be both physically and emotionally demanding since it involves helping people through rehabilitation. Therapists may have to do considerable lifting, carrying, walking, standing and crouching. In some practices, therapists may also have to use a computer for extended periods of time during report preparation.
Source: 2016 Census
Beginning in 2010, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) only grants accreditation to graduates with a master's degree in occupational therapy.
Registration to practice in B.C. requires:
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is currently the only institution in the province that offers a college-approved program in occupational therapy. For more information, visit the UBC School of Rehabilitation Sciences website at www.rehab.ubc.ca.
Occupational therapists must be registered members of the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC) to legally practise in the province. The COTBC is the regulatory body that sets entry to practice requirements (establishing education qualifications; fieldwork requirements; entry level competencies and registration requirements); setting standards for practice and ethical conduct; and implementing quality assurance programs such as continuing competence standards to assure continued safe, quality practice.
Occupational therapists who are certified for that occupation by a regulator elsewhere in Canada can apply for the same certification from the regulator in B.C. Under the terms of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), most applicants who are transferring their credentials from elsewhere in Canada will not be required to complete additional training or testing. However, the B.C. regulator may ask applicants to provide further information such as a letter of good standing, references, or criminal record check.
For those who trained outside of Canada and never received certification from any Canadian jurisdiction, a full assessment is likely needed. Most occupational regulators have a process for assessment and recognize internationally trained applicants.
Contact the College of Occupational Therapists of BC for details on how to apply for certification in B.C.
For information about labour mobility in Canada, visit www.workersmobility.ca.
View a list of B.C. occupational regulators.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
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Job growth will be due to an aging population, increased life expectancy, technological advancements, greater social health awareness and a shift toward ambulatory care (for patients who do not need to stay in a health-care facility overnight). The majority of job openings will result from new job creation. Further, since women make up a high share of these workers, there are many openings from maternity leave.
Occupational therapists are in high demand throughout the province. At present, the number of new graduates is insufficient to meet demand. This shortage has provided expanded opportunities for new graduates to practise in areas that typically would have required a higher level of experience. More opportunities for on-the-job training and mentorship will also likely become available as a result of shortages.
Industry reports that the trend for workers moving to community practice (private practice) is expected to continue, as privatization and insurance coverage for occupational therapy services becomes more common.
Some practices have adopted technologies for consultations provincewide. The move to electronic health records requires computer skills and basic office software knowledge. Occupational therapists may also work more often on teams delivering services through tele-health technologies.
In hospital settings, most occupational therapists begin at an Occupational Therapist Grade I level. Advancement into managerial positions is possible with additional training and experience.
Opportunities to move into consultant positions or specializations within occupational therapy (i.e., quality assurance and research) are increasingly becoming available. Occupational therapists may also become teachers in their field.