OT vs. PT: Career ROI

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy - featured image

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Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy are frequently used interchangeably, especially by students pursuing this career path. While both disciplines overlap in certain methodologies and purposes, it’s important to know their differences to determine the most appropriate program and work prospects for you!

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

How Do OT and PT Compare To Each Other?

How Do OT and PT Compare To Each Other - Image

Here’s a peek into the distinct differences, academically and professionally, between OT and PT:

Average Salary$93,180 yearly $97,720 annually
Job Growth (2022-2032)12% or  9,600 vacancies annually15% or 13,900 openings each year 
Job Duties● Create treatment programs to help patients get back to doing everyday tasks
● Observe and evaluate patients’ cognitive and fine motor skills
● Provide individualized treatment programs based on patients’ injuries or movement issues
● Encourage changes in lifestyle to improve healing outcomes
● Assist persons with physical disabilities in performing  regular activities
Places of WorkHospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, primary care offices, schools, community centers, shelters, free clinicsHospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, private offices, patients’ homes, nursing homes.
Who Benefits for the Professional Service● People with long-term impairments like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy
● People recuperating from trauma affecting their ability to function physically
Patients suffering from spinal cord or brain injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease

What is Occupational Therapy?

What is Occupational Therapy - Image

The objective of PT is to give patients back their ability to carry out daily duties which was limited by an injury or medical condition. As a result of an OT treatment or recovery program, patients can perform basic activities such as bathing, eating, and putting their clothes on.

Importantly, OT professionals are tasked to provide patients with treatment or therapy to ultimately get back on their feet and go back to work.

To do these, OT specialists use adaptive training, tools, and equipment to help people recover by doing physical activities. They also utilize techniques that enhance memory, concentration, and executive function.

OT Education and Career Paths

A Bachelor’s degree in OT comprises a one-year internship for practical experience that prepares them for a graduate degree or the profession itself. 

A Master’s in OT or Master of Science in OT degree is ideal for Occupational Therapy assistants (OTAs) who want to become full-fledged OTs. This post-bachelor’s OT program takes two years of full-time study.

To practice professionally, an OT should pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy or NBCOT. You must meet all other certification requirements as mandated by the OT regulating body in your.

If you’re a licensed OT seeking to climb to an executive or leadership position in occupational science, earn a Doctor of OT degree! Doctors of OT also qualify for teaching positions in the academe.

Physical Rehabilitation, Pediatric Occupational Therapy, Geriatrics, and Mental Health are popular areas of specialization for occupational therapists. Other job prospects include:

OT students collaborate closely with their patients and professional communities to improve development, prevent disability, and increase independence. They are trained to use therapeutically planned activities that support occupational performance so people can live autonomous and fulfilling lives.

An OT career is for you if:

An OT career is Not A Great Fit if:

What is Physical Therapy?

What is Physical Therapy - Image

Fundamentally, Physical Therapy seeks to improve a patient’s ability to move the body. It is an evidence-based field that focuses on mobility restoration, pain relief, and a reduced need for surgery and prescription medication. PT also helps avert the onset of mobility loss by promoting wellness and fitness activities.

PT Education and Career Paths

A Physical Therapy undergraduate program focuses on the basics of the physical body and bodily movement. Graduates learn about the fundamental principles of physical rehabilitation, preparing them for the demands of the workplace.

With a Master’s in PT program, students learn advanced-level techniques in physical therapy. An MPT is typically a two-year program during which students obtain clinical experience and hands-on training from a licensed PT. An MPT can be pursued by students with a background in  Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, and Kinesiology that are closely related to the PT discipline.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy or DPT program takes three years to finish, with a one-year clinical experience requirement. DPTs are qualified to create treatment plans for patients. They also train and supervise the work of would-be PTs.

To practice Physical Therapy professionally, the DPT is a must. You should also pass the licensing test as required by the state. Most US states require PTs to renew their license every two years as a way to stay on top of new PT advancements, practice updates, and new laws. 

Licensed PTs can choose to specialize! The possible career paths that PTs can aim for based on their educational attainment and level of training include:

Being a PT can be taxing! When dealing with patients, you will probably be on your feet a lot. In helping patients regaining their physical abilities, you frequently have to assist them physically during rehabilitative exercises. 

PTs can choose to work full-time, part-time, or freelance, based on their desired work environment. They are highly respected for their specialized training.

A PT career is for you if:

A PT Career Is Not A Great Fit if:

Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy - fact

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