Other OT-Related Information Any OTs or recent grads willing to talk about the OT profession?

Oct 29, 2020
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Hey guys,

I'm 23 and about to begin grad school this summer. The program is $36,000 and I also have $2k in loans from undergrad.

I was really happy to get accepted, but lately I’ve read more about people's experiences as OTs that are making me rethink my decision on becoming an OT. Some cons I am seeing are reimbursement, seeing a greater number of patients with a decrease in pay, PRN jobs vs full time, and the ability to change areas of practice but not many opportunities to increase salary. I am someone who values stability and likes being in control so this is a lot for me to think about.

I'm nervous about choosing OT for the first time. I agree with the OT ideals and loved my shadowing experiences. I feel lost and overwhelmed because I’ve worked towards OT school for 3 years and I’ve already graduated college and not explored different careers.

Are there any OTs or recent grads on here that are willing to PM, share their experiences, or give advice?
 
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Apr 1, 2020
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Hi! so I will be starting OT school in May and have been seeing ALOT of the negative stuff on my Instagram from OT's that I follow. It has been very discouraging . Although yes! Most OT schools are pretty expensive. I think it's important to just sit down and think why you are doing this. Why OT. Getting this degree is a investment so I don't really think about the debt as much. I just thought that'd be something to add because that's how I feel.
 
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Jun 28, 2020
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I totally relate to this. I've also seen a lot of negativity on insta and the OT's that I talk to. However, I have about 27k in undergrad loans and programs I am looking at are 80k+

You are not alone in your doubts, I graduated in 2018 and have been working for 2 years towards this goal, and now that I am here I feel like I am stuck. I feel wishy washy backing out of something right when I get accepted into a program. So I understand the hesitation. It's a really big decision to make.
 
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Lanh D

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Thanks for the post! I definitely agreed with you guys about how OT is an investment!

To me, I believe this profession will make me happy, and I know it will be rewarding even if the pay might not be great. It's okay to change your profession if you feel like this profession aren't right for you. If you are willing to put in the time and explore other professions that will make you happier and feel more stable than go for it!

Good luck!
 
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Nov 3, 2020
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I am in the same position as you. I have not started in my OT program yet, but after being in this forum, I was starting to get extremely discouraged about going into this field because some people were saying some really negative things about it. I really started to question everything but then I kinda stopped and thought about why I am doing OT. In my observation experiences, I absolutely loved it and have met many successful OTs in the field. I think some people may enter the field thinking they’ll make a lot of money immediately and that isn’t always the case, but I think passion weighs more heavily salary. I also just think now is a hard time for any healthcare professional because of COVID so you’re not going to avoid some of the negatives by switching to PT or another related career.

It sounds like if you’re willing to be flexible, you can make OT work and have a great experience in the field. I started following this Facebook group recently that has a way more positive and helpful environment/discussion about OT that may ease your nerves!
Occupational Therapy New Grads and Students
 
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Oct 29, 2020
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Hi! so I will be starting OT school in May and have been seeing ALOT of the negative stuff on my Instagram from OT's that I follow. It has been very discouraging . Although yes! Most OT schools are pretty expensive. I think it's important to just sit down and think why you are doing this. Why OT. Getting this degree is a investment so I don't really think about the debt as much. I just thought that'd be something to add because that's how I feel.
Glad I am not alone and definitely helpful 👍 I will spend some time to do the same.
 
Oct 29, 2020
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I totally relate to this. I've also seen a lot of negativity on insta and the OT's that I talk to. However, I have about 27k in undergrad loans and programs I am looking at are 80k+

You are not alone in your doubts, I graduated in 2018 and have been working for 2 years towards this goal, and now that I am here I feel like I am stuck. I feel wishy washy backing out of something right when I get accepted into a program. So I understand the hesitation. It's a really big decision to make.
Ikr it's a lot of pressure to think of how it's going to be like after grad! Dedicating years to grad and then hesitating was not something I ever imagined having. What insta OTs do you follow haha. Haven't checked out OTs on insta before
 
Oct 29, 2020
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Thanks for the post! I definitely agreed with you guys about how OT is an investment!

To me, I believe this profession will make me happy, and I know it will be rewarding even if the pay might not be great. It's okay to change your profession if you feel like this profession aren't right for you. If you are willing to put in the time and explore other professions that will make you happier and feel more stable than go for it!

Good luck!
Thank you for your reply!! You're right, it will be my responsibility to take the time and look for alternate jobs if it's truly something I want. It's something that I've gotta own up to lol.

Good to know that you are certain on OT! I think I still need to investigate it some more before committing. Are you applying to OT school/in school/graduated?
 
Oct 29, 2020
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I am in the same position as you. I have not started in my OT program yet, but after being in this forum, I was starting to get extremely discouraged about going into this field because some people were saying some really negative things about it. I really started to question everything but then I kinda stopped and thought about why I am doing OT. In my observation experiences, I absolutely loved it and have met many successful OTs in the field. I think some people may enter the field thinking they’ll make a lot of money immediately and that isn’t always the case, but I think passion weighs more heavily salary. I also just think now is a hard time for any healthcare professional because of COVID so you’re not going to avoid some of the negatives by switching to PT or another related career.

It sounds like if you’re willing to be flexible, you can make OT work and have a great experience in the field. I started following this Facebook group recently that has a way more positive and helpful environment/discussion about OT that may ease your nerves!
Occupational Therapy New Grads and Students
Glad to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Same, I loved my shadowing experiences too. Yeah I think PT and SLP are also impacted by insurance and going through the same thing. I'm worried that maybe the ideals that we learn in OT school might not materialize in the real world, which is kind of disappointing.

While I didn't get into OT to become rich, I don't know how I'd feel about not seeing increases in salary. Like I've heard of people talk about an income ceiling - When some years pass and my salary increases by some but then I reach an income ceiling and make the same X amount for the rest of my career. If that makes sense. I don't know how I'd feel about that because I have the passion to excel and become better and better as an OT and it might be discouraging not seeing increases in salary/for external factors like insurance to dictate our pay. I know this is kind of heavy to think about and it's just that I don't know if that will bother me. I have a feeling that it might but I'm not sure.

Good point about flexibility in this career and ty for offering your perspective. I'll def check out the facebook link!
 
May 19, 2020
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Hey guys,

I'm 23 and about to begin grad school this summer. The program is $36,000 and I also have $2k in loans from undergrad.

I was really happy to get accepted, but lately I’ve read more about people's experiences as OTs that are making me rethink my decision on becoming an OT. Some cons I am seeing are reimbursement, seeing a greater number of patients with a decrease in pay, PRN jobs vs full time, and the ability to change areas of practice but not many opportunities to increase salary. I am someone who values stability and likes being in control so this is a lot for me to think about.

I'm nervous about choosing OT for the first time. I agree with the OT ideals and loved my shadowing experiences. I feel lost and overwhelmed because I’ve worked towards OT school for 3 years and I’ve already graduated college and not explored different careers.

Are there any OTs or recent grads on here that are willing to PM, share their experiences, or give advice?
From talking to the OTs and OTAs I've shadowed- it's definitely worth it. Money-wise they are definitely not struggling to make ends meet and have plenty of clients. However, I understand your hesitation- there's so much negativity out there about the job. I think it depends on the area you go into. I've noticed OTs that work in SNFs get very burnt out but hospitals and pediatrics they are completely fine and earn a solid salary. Also, a very niche area but an OT I shadowed in worker rehab is doing very well for himself. I guess what I'm saying is be careful about the area you go into and make sure the business you end up working for has a good reputation.
 
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Nov 3, 2020
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From talking to the OTs and OTAs I've shadowed- it's definitely worth it. Money-wise they are definitely not struggling to make ends meet and have plenty of clients. However, I understand your hesitation- there's so much negativity out there about the job. I think it depends on the area you go into. I've noticed OTs that work in SNFs get very burnt out but hospitals and pediatrics they are completely fine and earn a solid salary. Also, a very niche area but an OT I shadowed in worker rehab is doing very well for himself. I guess what I'm saying is be careful about the area you go into and make sure the business you end up working for has a good reputation.
I’m also curious what people’s salary is when they complain about it. Is it just lower than they were expect or is it really just low? Because if you do a google search of average OT salary, you might expect to make 80k+ per year. But if you get a job that pays you 60k or so a year, some people may view this as very disappointing even though it’s an extremely livable salary! I think if you’re dedicated to OT, that type of salary difference may not matter as much as a new graduate.
 
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Feb 16, 2021
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I’m also curious what people’s salary is when they complain about it. Is it just lower than they were expect or is it really just low? Because if you do a google search of average OT salary, you might expect to make 80k+ per year. But if you get a job that pays you 60k or so a year, some people may view this as very disappointing even though it’s an extremely livable salary! I think if you’re dedicated to OT, that type of salary difference may not matter as much as a new graduate.
If you break down 60k a year, after taxes thats going to be about 3/4 of that, depending on what state you line in, then add up monthly rent, food, gas, utilities, a couple grand a month in loan payments, consider the possibility that you might not get benefits (this unfortunately has become very common in the field) and will also have to pay for your own healthcare, liability insurance, retirement savings, and have some $ set aside for emergencies like your car breaking down or needing to travel to a family funeral, and there’s not much left for anything like buying a house, raising a family, getting new clothes or going out to eat or to a concert once in a while. 60k a year in a low cost of living area with benefits and no or very little debt could be quite livable for frugal people or those with a partner who makes more. Also important to consider that most people have to wait several months at best after graduating before they can start working bc of studying for the NBCOT and waiting for that license to arrive, which is time when you might be able to defer loan payment but the interest is still accruing (that’s not something I took into account and wish I had). Not trying to be negative- you’ve worked hard and deserve to celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but reality can be much different once you’re in it.
 
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student4life101

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Jun 28, 2015
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Hey guys,

I'm 23 and about to begin grad school this summer. The program is $36,000 and I also have $2k in loans from undergrad.

I was really happy to get accepted, but lately I’ve read more about people's experiences as OTs that are making me rethink my decision on becoming an OT. Some cons I am seeing are reimbursement, seeing a greater number of patients with a decrease in pay, PRN jobs vs full time, and the ability to change areas of practice but not many opportunities to increase salary. I am someone who values stability and likes being in control so this is a lot for me to think about.

I'm nervous about choosing OT for the first time. I agree with the OT ideals and loved my shadowing experiences. I feel lost and overwhelmed because I’ve worked towards OT school for 3 years and I’ve already graduated college and not explored different careers.

Are there any OTs or recent grads on here that are willing to PM, share their experiences, or give advice?
Hi! New grad here and job hunting, so not exactly working in a particular setting, yet. My program was about three times the cost of the one you are considering, but I live in a state that pays well for OTs. I think the big deal breakers are where you plan to live/work and wheather or not you like the role of OT. Now that I am actually job hunting and thinking about the directions my career can go, really there are so many possibilities with this degree, but it is about how you use your skills and the niche you want to fill with that OT role. What I learned in school is as an OT you need to be a go getter, not be afraid to advocate and say "Hey! an OT can help with that." There are so many OTs who run their own private practice or work in non-client facing roles after getting experience and they make a lot of money, not because they stayed inside a neat OT box, but because they carved out a niche for themselves. Pretty sure I am one of the last to get a job out of my cohort (by choice), and I feel like there are many jobs where I am in CA, with the lowest starting pay around 65-70k from what I see. If you're paying 80-100k tuition and also have a lot in undergrad loans, I would think long and hard and crunch some realistic numbers before attending an expensive program. Just my two cents, please take it for what it's worth.
 
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deleted939094

Hey guys,

I'm 23 and about to begin grad school this summer. The program is $36,000 and I also have $2k in loans from undergrad.

I was really happy to get accepted, but lately I’ve read more about people's experiences as OTs that are making me rethink my decision on becoming an OT. Some cons I am seeing are reimbursement, seeing a greater number of patients with a decrease in pay, PRN jobs vs full time, and the ability to change areas of practice but not many opportunities to increase salary. I am someone who values stability and likes being in control so this is a lot for me to think about.

I'm nervous about choosing OT for the first time. I agree with the OT ideals and loved my shadowing experiences. I feel lost and overwhelmed because I’ve worked towards OT school for 3 years and I’ve already graduated college and not explored different careers.

Are there any OTs or recent grads on here that are willing to PM, share their experiences, or give advice?
Hi - I'm a new(ish) grad, stayed in-state for OT school, worked throughout my program, no undergrad debt, got half off tuition. That is to say, I am in probably about the best position (financially) one can be in for grad school and life beyond. I am extremely frugal and I was able to graduate from OT school with no debt. Because of COVID, my final fieldwork and graduation were delayed and I was not able to begin searching for jobs until the end of 2020 (4 months later than expected). That said, I found work immediately as a PRN OT, and actually just got my dream job in my hometown (saturated area) doing exactly what I want to do for a good salary and full benefits. I feel tremendously grateful to be in this position, but I know this is not the reality for most people. I would very strongly caution anyone against taking on more than 1 year's salary worth of debt to go to OT school. Starting salaries are often lower than you think, and benefits can be hard to come by. Before you commit to OT school, especially if you will have to take on significant (> $50K) debt to do it, consider what you could do without any further schooling that would bring you in contact with the population you want to serve. Also consider ways you can serve that population without making it your career. I am happy with OT but I think that's largely because I had a pretty unvarnished view of what OT and OT school would be. If you're hooked on the whole "wow, I'm a great person because I work with X population" vibe, take a step back... OT is a job, and doing this job is no more noble than many other jobs done in exchange for a paycheck. That said, I feel really good about my return on investment and look forward to a long career in OT.
 
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Jan 25, 2021
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Hi - I'm a new(ish) grad, stayed in-state for OT school, worked throughout my program, no undergrad debt, got half off tuition. That is to say, I am in probably about the best position (financially) one can be in for grad school and life beyond. I am extremely frugal and I was able to graduate from OT school with no debt. Because of COVID, my final fieldwork and graduation were delayed and I was not able to begin searching for jobs until the end of 2020 (4 months later than expected). That said, I found work immediately as a PRN OT, and actually just got my dream job in my hometown (saturated area) doing exactly what I want to do for a good salary and full benefits. I feel tremendously grateful to be in this position, but I know this is not the reality for most people. I would very strongly caution anyone against taking on more than 1 year's salary worth of debt to go to OT school. Starting salaries are often lower than you think, and benefits can be hard to come by. Before you commit to OT school, especially if you will have to take on significant (> $50K) debt to do it, consider what you could do without any further schooling that would bring you in contact with the population you want to serve. Also consider ways you can serve that population without making it your career. I am happy with OT but I think that's largely because I had a pretty unvarnished view of what OT and OT school would be. If you're hooked on the whole "wow, I'm a great person because I work with X population" vibe, take a step back... OT is a job, and doing this job is no more noble than many other jobs done in exchange for a paycheck. That said, I feel really good about my return on investment and look forward to a long career in OT.
Thank you for sharing your perspective!

What kind of work did you do during grad school? Did you work full time?
 
D

deleted939094

I'm always happy to share my perspective... I'm glad it was helpful to you. I worked part time through undergrad as a caregiver both in private homes and in a memory care facility. I was fortunate that my family paid for my undergraduate education, so I was able to save almost everything I earned. I continued working at the memory care facility through my first year of OT school, doing both personal care and activities. I loved my job and worked about 20 hours a week. It was A LOT to keep up with school and all that work. I probably missed out on some social opportunities with my classmates because of it, but it has been amazing to graduate without OT school debt without needing to lean on my family for support.
 
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cb31

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I'm an OT and I make a little under 65k (not a lot I know 😭😭) and I have about eeeh 155k in debt and I pay about 350 a month for loans (on the pay as you earn payment plan... if I did 10yr plan my payments would have been like 1700 a month, yikes)... I don't agree with a lot of people about what you should and shouldn't do in terms of loans such as dont take more then one year's salary bc OT school is expensive af and if you are paying without family support it will most likely always be more than a year's salary assuming you didnt take a break and work/saved for a few years... to me it boils down to don't take more than u need. Chose the cheapest school (always) and try to work during school at least parttime (I only did work study. If I could go back that's the only thing I would change. I should have worked more to reduce how much loan money I needed)... but I don't regret taking out the loans, I don't regret taking a job that I always complain that I don't make much at, lol, bc at the end of the day I love my job (sometimes hate it tho... so much paperwork, lol). But overall I knew what I was getting into. I knew the debt to income ratio is often high. I knew that this field had I lot of paperwork. I knew that the mentorship isnt always there... nothing surprised me. I knew.... I didn't have OT on this glorious pedestal. It's a career that fit me and I am happy with it. Even tho I do complanin aaaalll the time about it tho. Lol. Point I am making is fully research the career before diving in and figure out what you want most out of a job... All careers have good and bad. You have to decide what's worth it for you.
 
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