Brief Description

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients of all ages through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for everyday activities and working.

The occupational therapist attempts to restore an individual’s independence and self-reliance by first evaluating the patient’s condition, capabilities, and needs. Once examined, occupational therapists can provide purposeful treatment and exercise targeted at improving patient’s abilities with everyday tasks.

Occupational therapists work hand-in-hand with a team that may include physical therapists, speech therapists, vocational (job) rehabilitation, and recreational therapists to help individuals achieve an independent, productive and satisfying life.

What are some general things occupational therapists do?

  • Assist kids learn childhood skills
  • Assist patients recovering after injury
  • Assist patients aging safely at home
  • Assist patients in functioning in a community
  • Assist patients transitioning back to work
  • Assist patients in regaining independence after injury
  • Change lives!

What do occupational therapists focus on in therapy?

  • Fine motor skills (ex: writing, buttoning a shirt, using utensils)
  • ADLs (activities of daily living – ex: dressing, bathing, cooking, eating) and performing these without pain
  • Employment skills
  • Arm and hand treatments to improve function
  • Self-care training
  • Designing, fabricating, and applying arm and hand splints
  • Changing home or work spaces for patients who must compensate for their condition

Work Settings

  • Hospital
  • Clinics
  • Skilled Nursing Facility
  • Nursing Home
  • Home Health
  • School System

How do I become an occupational therapist?

In order to become an occupational therapist, students must complete high school, get a bachelor’s degree from a college, and then go onto occupational therapy school

  • High school
    • While in high school, although you only need to graduate, classes that may be related to a future in healthcare can include biology, health science, physics, and psychology
    • Students are encouraged to do volunteer work in the healthcare field to start exploring interests in occupational therapy
  • Undergraduate
    • After high school, a 4-year bachelor’s degree is required to apply for occupational therapy school. Areas of focus (majors) related to occupational therapy include:
      • Biology
      • Kinesiology
      • Psychology
      • Sociology
      • Health and Physical Education
    • During time in college, students must also get experience observing, shadowing, volunteering, or working with an occupational therapist directly (different occupational therapy schools/programs have different requirements of experience hours)
    • In addition, students should also build their resume
    • Much like the ACT and SAT exams completed in high school, many occupational therapy schools require college students to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), with different schools requiring different scores.
  • Occupational therapy school
    • 2 or 3 years long (depending on the school)
    • Classes focus on anatomy, human movement, health and illness, and professionalism
    • In addition to classes, students must get hands-on experience with patients through clinicals
    • Once student’s graduate from occupational therapy school, they will have a Master’s degree or a Doctorate degree in occupational therapy (depends on the school)
  • Licensure
    • Upon finishing occupational therapy school, students must get their license to practice, and this is done by passing the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) exam

Schools in Louisiana with Occupational Therapy programs & requirements:

  • LSU Health Sciences Center – New Orleans (Master of Occupational Therapy)
    • Bachelor’s degree with minimum cumulative GPAs of 2.8 for degree and 3.0 for pre-requisite courses
    • Completion of all pre-requisite classes with a “C” or better
    • GRE (Graduate Record Exam) minimum scores:
      • 150 on verbal section
      • 141 on quantitative section
      • 3.5 on analytical writing
    • 20 documented occupational therapy observation hours
    • Website: 
  • LSU Health Sciences Center – Shreveport (Doctor of Occupational Therapy)

Work schedule

  • Full time: 40 hours/week
  • Part time: < 40 hours/week
  • Weekend work may be required depending on setting


Average salary in Louisiana: $88,700 

Job outlook

The job outlook for occupational therapists is much faster than average, with a 17% projected increase from 2020-2030.

Video of an Occupational Therapist:

Professional information:

Louisiana Occupational Therapy Association
P.O.Box 14806
Baton Rouge, LA 70898
(225) 291-2806