How to Become an Occupational Therapist in Ontario

Are you among the people interested in knowing How To Become An Occupational Therapist In Ontario? Don’t worry, this article is a perfect guide for you.

Occupational Therapists, often called OTs, work with individuals to help them get back to living their best life possible.

The occupational therapists in Ontario are problem solvers that help people overcome obstacles mostly related to or originating from what they do.

This can be anything from helping someone with a physical ailment do a hobby they love, to conducting an in-home assessment to create a safe living environment.

This article will inform you more about occupational therapists and guide you on how to become an occupational therapist in Ontario.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a type of health care that helps to solve the problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them.

Everyday things like:

  • Self-care – getting dressed, eating, moving around the house,
  • Being productive – going to work or school, participating in the community, and
  • Leisure activities – sports, gardening, social activities.

Occupational therapy can also prevent a problem or minimize its effects.

Overview of how to become an occupational therapist in Ontario

Occupational Therapists enable people to become more productive and overcome obstacles when experiencing issues participating in everyday activities.

A person who has suffered a stroke, for example, may benefit from having an Occupational Therapist teach them how to perform tasks that have become difficult.

An occupational therapist in Ontario helps their patients do things that are important to them throughout the day, including:

  • Getting dressed
  • Eating
  • Moving around the house
  • Doing school work such as writing and drawing
  • Going to work and finding ways to develop new employable skills
  • Participating in leisure activities such as sports, gardening, social activities, etc.

Occupational Therapists create and implement individual programs and strategies that meet each person’s specific needs.

For example, if a person has lost the ability to play tennis due to a disability or injury, an Occupational Therapist will design specific exercises that help the patient work around their physical limitations. With this, they can continue to enjoy the sport.

How To Become An Occupational Therapist In Ontario

Follow these steps to become an occupational therapist in Ontario:

1. Complete a bachelor’s degree

Aspiring occupational therapists first obtain a bachelor’s degree before starting more specialized training.

Helpful courses to study include biology, physiology, mental and physical health theory, practice, pediatrics, anatomy, and geriatrics.

Although it is not a specific requirement, applicants with a background in the health sciences may have an advantage in applying for admission to a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

2. Complete a master’s degree

Most occupational therapists have a minimum of a master’s degree in occupational therapy. If students have completed an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy, they can usually complete a one-year master’s degree program at some colleges and universities.

Some universities also offer a bridge program from a bachelor’s to a master’s degree to allow students to complete the degrees in a shorter timeframe.

Occupational therapy students take courses in behavioral neuroscience, kinesiology, and functional anatomy. They also learn about research in the field and the practice of occupational therapy.

3. Gain clinical experience from fieldwork

Either after obtaining a master’s degree or during school, students must gain clinical experience in different healthcare settings. Students can do their fieldwork in mental health, geriatrics, physical disabilities, or pediatrics.

4. Pass the board examination

Licensed occupational therapists need to pass the examination with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy before they are allowed to work as occupational therapists. The exam questions aim to evaluate a candidate’s ability to make conclusions about a patient’s needs, gather information about their occupational performance, choose the appropriate therapy and manage and direct occupational therapy services.

5. Obtain your license

All states require occupational therapists to become licensed before they can start practicing. Occupational therapists need to graduate from an accredited program to meet the qualification requirements for licensure.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) accredits most post-graduate degrees in occupational therapy in most states. Candidates need to ensure they meet the licensing requirements for the state in which they want to practice.

6. Pursue continuing education to remain licensed

Occupational therapists need to do continuing education units (CEUs) to keep their licensure. The CEUs are credits professionals earn by taking regular classes after becoming licensed. The CEU requirements for each state differ.

Most CEUs can now be done online. AOTA offers CEUs and also maintains a database of approved continuing education providers.

7. Choose an area of specialization

Once occupational therapists become licensed, they can remain generalists. However, occupational therapists can also choose to continue their education to complete specialized training in driving and community mobility, school systems, low vision, feeding and eating, and swallowing.

8. Consider completing an advanced degree

Some occupational therapists complete a doctoral degree in occupational therapy. Occupational therapists interested in advanced clinical practice or becoming a manager or leaders may choose to complete a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy. Those who are interested in occupational therapy research can pursue a Ph.D.

Salaries Of Occupational Therapists in Ontario

Occupational therapists in Ontario (NOC 3143) usually earn between $35.00/hour and $50.00/hour. Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours with the need to work flexibly over seven days. As an occupational therapist, you’ll be paid on the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system, typically starting on band 5.

Salaries may vary depending on factors such as location, the number of years of experience the position requires, and the candidate’s qualifications. You’ll also have access to our generous pension scheme and health service discounts, as well as 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.

Skills Required To Be An Occupational Therapist In Ontario

As with any role, there any many personal characteristics that someone needs to possess to be a good occupational therapist. This career is a public-facing role so you’ll be interacting with different people every day. Therefore, your interpersonal skills need to be excellent. Being capable of quickly building a rapport with many different people, is an essential trait for an occupational therapist to have.

As with most other areas of healthcare, you need to be patient, empathetic, and enthusiastic. You are the difference between someone taking their first steps after major surgery and remaining in their hospital bed. Positivity is crucial to encourage someone to take the steps they need to discharge and recover.

As an occupational therapist, you need to be able to think on your feet. If someone is not responding to treatment, the ability to quickly change what you are doing is necessary. You also need to be able to work well as part of a team, as you are working closely with other disciplines within healthcare.

Occupational therapists need to have a good amount of flexibility when dealing with the high and the low points of a patient’s recovery. Your day may change at the last minute, if there is a demand with a patient, having the flexibility to do so, is essential.

Occupational therapists need to have an excellent level of communication. This includes strong written and verbal communication, to effectively understand the needs of their patients, and then explain the treatment process. Additionally, they need to be able to document treatment plans and progress whilst collaborating with other healthcare professionals.

Where Occupational Therapist In Ontario Work

Occupational Therapists work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Homes: Provided by private organizations and the Ontario government.
  • Communities: Clinics, health boards, group homes, halfway houses, and worker compensation boards.
  • Institutions: Hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, correctional institutions, schools, universities, and colleges.
  • Businesses: Rehabilitation companies, insurance companies, and other corporations.
  • Government: Working with all levels of government to promote disability prevention, accessibility, international rehabilitation program development, and health planning.

Becoming An Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA)

Occupational therapy support personnel, or assistants, are individuals who have the job-related competencies to support occupational therapists in delivering occupational therapy services. The work of an occupational therapist assistant is supervised by an occupational therapist.

Occupational therapist assistants are not a regulated profession and, as such, the educational requirements are more generalized and there is no entrance exam like the NOTCE. Occupational therapist assistant programs, many of which are accredited, exist at colleges across Canada.

Requirements Needed To Be An Occupational Therapist In Ontario

To become an occupational therapist in Canada, there are several requirements needed:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Bachelors of Science or university degree with coursework including biology and physiology.
  • Master’s Degree: A professional Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from an accredited institution; is the minimum entry requirement for this profession. 14 universities offer Occupational Therapy programs (Master’s Degree), across Canada. Some OTs enter into the profession with a doctoral degree in the field. However, this is not a requirement.
  • Field Experience: A minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised fieldwork experience.
  • Certification Exam: Completing the National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE) from the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT).
  • Council Membership: Become a member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO). Each province has a council that is responsible for the regulation of Occupational Therapy.

FAQs about how to become an occupational therapist in Ontario

Below are the top questions about how to become an occupational therapist in Ontario with the perfect answers;

  • What qualifications do you need to be an occupational therapist?

To become an occupational therapist in Ontario, you’ll need a degree in occupational therapy, which usually takes three years full-time or up to six years part-time. In postgraduate studies, it’s possible to gain a Masters’s degree in one to two years.

  • How much does an OT make in Ontario?

Occupational therapists in Ontario (NOC 3143) usually earn between $35.00/hour and $50.00/hour.

  • Is OT a good career?

Being an occupational therapist is an incredibly rewarding role, working with clients and their families to make life easier. Supporting an individual’s independent living can also ease the pressure felt by their support network.

  • What is the highest-paid occupational therapist?

How Much Does an Occupational Therapist in Ontario Make? Occupational Therapists made a median salary of $87,980 in 2021. The best-paid 25 percent made $105,570 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $72,790.

  • How long does it take to become an occupational therapist?

Becoming a licensed occupational therapist typically takes up to five to six years. Candidates must first obtain a bachelor’s degree before completing a master’s degree and conducting fieldwork to gain experience.

There are also licensing requirements to meet and an examination to pass before you can be a licensed occupational therapist.

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