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Admission to a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program in the United States will usually require a bachelor’s degree and specific coursework. Those who want to pursue a career as an occupational therapist just may have chosen wisely as this field is expected to grow by 21 percent within the next decade. Therapist careers in physical health care are among the most lucrative career choices for the next five years at least, with median annual salaries reaching the $80,000 mark.
The demands for more health care therapists are also expected to increase as experts predict the baby boomer generation to slow down soon and require specialized therapeutic care. If you are considering a career as a therapist, the following are the top five careers to pursue in 2020.
1. Respiratory Therapists
The job of a respiratory therapist is to care for patients who have breathing problems. They are trained in evaluating and diagnosing patients with breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders. Respiratory therapists work alongside the patient’s primary physician to develop a treatment plan that is specific to the patient’s condition. Chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications are the main treatments that are prescribed by respiratory therapists.
Respiratory therapists have a median salary of $58,000, with the top earners in the field earning more than $80,000 annually. Employment for respiratory therapists is expected to increase by 23 percent in the next 10 years.
2. Occupational Therapy
Many people confuse occupational therapists with physical therapists. While their methods may appear similar, the treatment goals are different. Occupational therapists are trained to treat patients with impaired physical mobility to develop the strength and ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). The median salary for occupational therapists is $81,000, with some earning up to $120,000. The largest employers for occupational therapists are nursing care facilities.
3. Radiation Therapists
Working primarily with cancer patients, radiation therapists work alongside oncologists to administer the prescribed radiation treatments for patients. Admission to radiation therapy programs is easy compared to the other therapist careers on this list. The median pay for radiation therapist, however, is quite high at $80,000, with the top tier earners taking home around $123,000 annually. Employment growth in the field is predicted to increase by 25 percent in 10 years.
4. Speech Language Pathologists
As the title suggests, speech language pathologists or simply speech therapists specialize in the treatment and management of speech disorders in both children and adults. Speech therapists are also trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat swallowing disorders. These problems may be the result of a stroke, developmental problems, injury to the brain, hearing loss, autism, cleft palate or autism.
The median salary for speech therapists is around $74,000, with the top 10 percent earning more than $116,000 a year. The main employers of speech therapists are educational institutions.
5. Physical Therapists
Physical therapists (PTs) are trained to help those with limited mobility due to injury or medical condition to restore or improve their movement and manage pain. PTs play an important role in the rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic medical conditions or injuries. Like the other therapists on this list, PTs work alongside the primary physician of the patient in developing a treatment specific to the condition.
Physical therapists have a median salary of $85,000 with the top 10 percent earning $122,000 annually. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects an employment growth of 28 percent in this field within the next 10 years.