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Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help people experiencing challenges due to injury, physical or mental illness, disability, a change in function, or barriers in the social and physical environment. Occupational therapists take a holistic approach to improving patients’ quality of life by helping them participate in everyday activities.

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

  • 3143: Occupational Therapists

2006 NOC-S

  • D043: Occupational Therapists

2011 NOC

  • 3143: Occupational therapists

2016 NOC

  • 3143: Occupational therapists

2021 NOC

  • 31203: Occupational therapists

2023 OaSIS

  • 31203.00: Occupational therapists
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Occupational therapists (OTs) work with individuals, groups, communities, educational, and health systems. They work collaboratively with clients to solve problems that interfere with taking part in daily activities. In general, this involves:

  • Understanding a client’s physical abilities such as strength, balance, coordination, and motor function
  • Understanding a client’s mental abilities (memory and coping skills), routines (daily activities), and the physical set-up of their home, work, or leisure environment
  • Promoting occupational participation in areas such as self-care, work, study, volunteering, and leisure activities
  • Setting and prioritizing goals based on their findings and the client’s wishes
  • Working with clients to develop a treatment plan
  • Implementing the plan with the client and their support systems
  • Following client progress, gauging outcomes, and adjusting plans as needed
  • Making suggestions, as an independent consultant or with a multidisciplinary professional team, for changes to social or physical environments when clients return to their home
  • Making suggestions for policy or procedure changes when clients return to work
  • Making suggestions to help clients reintegrate into their communities by engaging in community, home, or school programs

Intervention plans may include:

  • Changing or modifying the physical and social environments to improve clients’ access to and engagement in specific activities
  • Using meaningful activities to help clients improve, restore, or maintain function and prevent further disability
  • Using environmental changes, equipment, adaptive devices, and assistive technology to support clients to take part in occupations
  • Doing vocational testing and retraining to develop or improve work-related skills
  • Coaching clients to learn daily living activities such as feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, and toileting
  • Providing strategies, such as mindfulness, chronic disease management, ergonomics, and pain management, to promote health and wellness and prevent disability
  • Advising on individual psychological interventions to improve anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns
  • Arranging interventions that ease social adjustment, alleviate stress, promote client well-being, and teach daily life skills
  • Helping clients participate in leisure activities based on interest and functioning level

OTs may:

  • Help clients learn new ways to perform daily chores, manage finances, and shop for groceries
  • Help clients learn skills to cope with anxiety, substance use, stress, trauma, decreased energy, normal aging, and emotional regulation
  • Work with parents, teachers, and others to help children achieve success at home, at school, and in the community
  • Adapt environments in schools, homes, workplaces, and communities to help clients in their daily life, such as by making home layout more accessible or helping to prevent further injury
  • Help clients regain the use of an injured body part or improve strength, endurance, movement, and self-confidence
  • Recommend the use of assistive technologies, such as mobility devices and safety equipment, so clients can take part in meaningful activities
  • Perform assessments to determine driver readiness following an illness or injury
  • Assist with strategies regarding feeding, eating, and swallowing concerns

Some OTs specialize in working with certain age groups or with clients who have specific concerns such as arthritis, mental wellness, or spinal cord injuries. OTs may supervise assistants.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Occupational Therapists

2006 NOC: 3143

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Occupational therapists need:

  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organization skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills (verbal, listening, and written)
  • The ability to work with little supervision

They should enjoy:

  • Working with people
  • Finding creative ways to deal with challenges
  • Taking a step-by-step approach to their work

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Occupational therapists

2016 NOC: 3143

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 36 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 23, 2021 and May 27, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Analyse clients' capabilities and expectations related to life activities through observation, interviews and formal assessments
Tasks: Develop and implement treatment programs
Tasks: Maintain clinical and progress reports
Tasks: Evaluate treatment progress
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists enable clients to participate in the activities of everyday life. Their clients experience obstacles due to impairments of body structure, changes in function, mental or emotional challenges, or barriers in the social and physical environment.

 

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Health Professions Act [pdf], Health Professions Restricted Activity Regulation [pdf], and Occupational Therapists Profession Regulation [pdf], registration with the Alberta College of Occupational Therapists (ACOT) is mandatory. Only registered members may provide restricted activities specified in the Regulations. This includes those who:

  • Meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public
  • Teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession
  • Supervise registered members
  • Are students who provide services to the public
  • Use the titles and initials: registered occupational therapist, occupational therapist, or OT

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Occupational Therapist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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)
  • Home-care businesses
  • Professional organizations
  • Private clinics
  • Individuals and families in the community

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3143: Occupational therapists occupational group, 86.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3143: Occupational therapists occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.9% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 45 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Occupational therapists

2016 NOC: 3143
Average Wage
$45.49
Per Hour
Average Salary
$76,875.00
Per Year
Average Hours
32.8
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3143 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $33.33 $41.58 $34.90 $33.57
Overall $38.46 $52.05 $45.49 $46.72
Top $41.03 $52.36 $48.70 $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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
73%
73%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
63%
63%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
34%
34%
Vacancy Rate
8%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

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

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

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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