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Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help people experiencing challenges (due to injury, illness, disability or mental health, a change in function, or barriers in the social and physical environment) take part in everyday activities. They have a holistic approach toward improving their clients’ quality of life.

  • Avg. Salary $84,994.00
  • Avg. Wage $43.93
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 2,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Rehabilitation Therapist, Therapist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Occupational Therapists (3143) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Occupational Therapists (D043) 
  • 2011 NOC: Occupational therapists (3143) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

23%
23%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Occupational Therapist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Occupational Therapists
SOCIAL

Interest in consulting with members on interdisciplinary teams to establish personalized care plans, and to advise on health promotion programs

INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to develop intervention programs to address client needs related to self-care, work and leisure activities

METHODICAL

Interest in manipulating and maintaining equipment used in programs involving manual and creative arts, industrial and vocational skills, and recreational activities

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Occupational therapists (OTs) work with individuals, groups, communities and systems. They develop the means and create opportunities to understand, engage in and improve clients’ function in all aspects of life. In general, this involves:

  • finding each client’s level of function (such as self-care, work, study, volunteerism and leisure)
  • setting and prioritizing goals based on client evaluation
  • creating intervention plans to help clients take part in activities
  • following client progress, gauging outcomes and adjusting plans as needed
  • making suggestions (as an independent consultant or with a multidisciplinary professional team) for:
    • client discharge
    • home or school management
    • transfer to alternate programs
    • integration into the community
    • return to work
    • policy or procedure changes
    • changes to the social or physical environment.
  • any form of exercise that helps improve day-to-day functioning.

Intervention plans may include:

  • changing physical and social environments to improve clients’ access to activities and make it easier for them to take part
  • using meaningful activities to help clients restore or maintain function and prevent disability
  • using environmental changes, equipment and assistive technology to support clients to take part in occupations
  • doing vocational testing and retraining to develop or improve work-related skills
  • helping clients to learn or re-learn day-to-day life skills
  • providing strategies to promote health and prevent disability (such as mindfulness, chronic disease management, ergonomics, pain management)
  • arranging group interventions that:
    • ease social adjustment
    • alleviate stress
    • promote client well-being

          through self-management techniques and by providing choices.

  • helping clients choose leisure activities based on interest and functioning level.

OTs may:

  • help clients learn new ways to perform daily chores, manage their finances and shop for groceries
  • help clients learn skills to cope with anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, stress, decreased energy or normal aging
  • work with parents, teachers and others to help children achieve success at home, in school and in the community
  • adapt environments in schools, homes, workplaces and communities to assist people in their everyday life (such as by changing the layout of a home to make it more accessible or help prevent further injury)
  • help clients regain the use of an injured body part or improve strength, endurance, movement and self-confidence
  • use assistive technologies (such as mobility devices and safety equipment) so clients can take part in meaningful activities.

Some OTs specialize in working with a certain age group or clients who have a certain concern (such as arthritis, mental health problems or spinal cord injuries). OTs may have to supervise assistants.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Most occupational therapists work standard office hours. However, some positions require evening and weekend work. In clinical settings, they may do a lot of standing, bending and assisting patients.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Occupational therapists need to possess:

  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • the ability to be organized
  • good people skills
  • the ability to listen, speak and write well
  • the ability to work with little supervision
  • creativity
  • empathy
  • patience.

They should enjoy:

  • working with people
  • finding creative ways to deal with challenges
  • taking a step-by-step approach to their work.
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Occupational therapists (OTs) must complete an accredited occupational therapy program. The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists will grant academic accreditation only to OT programs that lead to a master’s degree in occupational therapy.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

University of Alberta

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists enable people who experience obstacles (due to impairment of body structure, a change in function, or barriers in the social and physical environment) to participate in the activities of everyday life.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Occupational Therapists Profession Regulation, only regulated members of the Alberta College of Occupational Therapists (ACOT) may call themselves occupational therapists. Regulated members provide health services listed in Schedule 15 of the Health Professions Act.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) an approved occupational therapy degree program, (2) 1,000 hours of supervised clinical practice, and (3) an approved certification examination. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACOT website or contact ACOT.

Working in Alberta

Occupational therapists registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered occupational therapists in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated occupational therapists, see Occupational Therapist Registration Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Alberta College of Occupational Therapists (ACOT)
300, 10436 - 81 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T6E 1X6
Phone number: 780-436-8381
Toll-free phone number (within Alberta): 1-800-561-5429
Fax number: 780-434-0658
Website: www.acot.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Occupational therapists (OTs) may work for:

  • community agencies
  • health care organizations (such as hospitals, continuing care facilities, rehabilitation centres and clinics)
  • schools or post-secondary schools
  • government or insurance agencies
  • the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB)
  • lawyers’ offices
  • professional organizations.

OTs in public or private practice may offer services such as medical or legal evaluations. Those who are self-employed often consult for various levels of government.

In Alberta, 83% of people employed as occupational therapists work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Alberta, the D043: Occupational Therapists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 74 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 14, 2016

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Occupational therapists

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.93 $39.42 $32.20 $33.33
Overall $41.03 $48.42 $43.93 $43.43
Top $45.93 $52.63 $49.61 $49.65

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

82%
82%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

23%
23%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

N/A

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
    • Recreation Leadership
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Alberta College of Occupational Therapists (ACOT) website: www.acot.ca

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) website: www.caot.ca

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

Society of Occupational Therapists (SAOT) website: www.saot.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 22, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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