occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
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DPT / OTD
Hey all..

I figured I would start a salary thread. I am a level 2 OT student preparing to enter the field (hopefully).

I have been playing around with BLS statistics for salaries and I have drawn up these graphs of the highest salary locations for OTs and for the "major markets" that BLS selected. I wish I could find a way to weight the data for cost of living factored in. I have organized the locations by most reliable stats according to BLS to least. That means the cities/locations furthest to the left are most accurate with regards to the figures and those to the right are less accurate. I believe it is fair to expect that you will enter the market at the 17-25% percentile of what clinicians make. You won't be making the OT median salary at the start for your location, that will likely be your midcareer salary, or maybe further. I think very few clinicians will ever reach the 90% percentile so I did not even include those stats.

Note: An average 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco is nearly $5000 a month. Or in other words nearly your entire starting OT salary, without even paying for your loans, food, and transit. Won't be moving there ;)
Anyone who wants me to crunch data for their specific location please let me know I will gladly do it!
 
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Bokonomy

2+ Year Member
Apr 1, 2015
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Occupational Therapy Student
I have to wonder if most of the highest paid areas are due to more SNFs there... After all, Florida is basically the retire home state. ;) Or perhaps there are more for-profit institutions in these areas?

I'm just wondering why that is. Because teachers in the southern Northeast get paid rather well, so I'd imagine school OT compensation is similar. However, the reasonable school OT salaries (if they are, I know some are contract) don't seem to compensate for three decreased salary in other areas.

I'd love to hear what others who are more informed of the job markets (particularly the Northeast) have to say.
 
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occupationalguy

occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
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DPT / OTD
I have to wonder if most of the highest paid areas are due to more SNFs there... After all, Florida is basically the retire home state. ;) Or perhaps there are more for-profit institutions in these areas?
Stats are available by setting, and location. The two can be crossed and I can crunch SNF in XYZ City, Oupatient in XYZ city, School in XYZ city. Etc.

Imho - do not count at all on starting salaries of 70. In mid market places it'd be more like 50-60k.

However, the reasonable school OT salaries (if they are, I know some are contract) don't seem to compensate for three decreased salary in other areas.
It's sadly a truism that school OT is the lowest paying setting for us. If you want to work in that setting be prepared for lower pay. It's a question of priorities in our society; look at the raw deal teachers get.
 

prodigiousflame

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Sep 23, 2010
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In socal the district near me starts their therapists off at 75k. Within 5 years they make +90k plus keep in mind benefits and summers off which can be used to pick up per diem hours to supplement their income if they want. So schools arent the lowest paid setting in my experience at least.

QUOTE="Bokonomy, post: 18057759, member: 682320"]I have to wonder if most of the highest paid areas are due to more SNFs there... After all, Florida is basically the retire home state. ;) Or perhaps there are more for-profit institutions in these areas?

I'm just wondering why that is. Because teachers in the southern Northeast get paid rather well, so I'd imagine school OT compensation is similar. However, the reasonable school OT salaries (if they are, I know some are contract) don't seem to compensate for three decreased salary in other areas.

I'd love to hear what others who are more informed of the job markets (particularly the Northeast) have to say.[/QUOTE]
 
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occupationalguy

occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
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DPT / OTD
I did some national market analysis. Take a peek. These are all organized by 25% percentile (1st year clinicians will likely start a little below this).
 
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spiralgalaxy

7+ Year Member
Nov 18, 2010
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Occupational Therapist
Thanks for the stats, occupationalguy! As an OT in the SF Bay Area, I can attest to the high rental costs eating up a grand portion of your take-home haha.. it's always good to consider what pay would be like in other areas.
 
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Feb 21, 2014
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Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Is there a reason you are assuming 17-25% for first year employees? Is this based on experience or research?

I guess I'm thinking that not all OTs come into the field right off with the same amount of previous work experience or clinical experience.
 
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occupationalguy

occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
242
204
Status
DPT / OTD
Is there a reason you are assuming 17-25% for first year employees? Is this based on experience or research?

I guess I'm thinking that not all OTs come into the field right off with the same amount of previous work experience or clinical experience.
I can only speak from what I see, but nearly all new graduates starting their first job (who I know) do not possess enough experience to negotiate for higher pay than 25% percentile. I do not think it is likely for a new grad to get the median salary of much more experienced clinicians. Why would your employer pay you the median salary for our field when you have less than the average amount of experience?
 
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Feb 21, 2014
26
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Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I can only speak from what I see, but nearly all new graduates starting their first job (who I know) do not possess enough experience to negotiate for higher pay than 25% percentile. I do not think it is likely for a new grad to get the median salary of much more experienced clinicians. Why would your employer pay you the median salary for our field when you have less than the average amount of experience?
There are a few reasons to hire a new grad over an experienced OT. For example, a new grad with a master's degree could have more research experience than an OT with a BS.. which could presumably bring more evidenced-based or research-focused approach to the therapy team. Some facilities may require OTs to participate in research (such as a teaching hospital). Also a new hire could have more experience with a population, within or apart from OT, over a seasoned OT.

I agree that the majority of new OTs should not be disheartened by an offer less than the median salary. But there are ways to build your resume in other ways.

Personally, I will graduate with a previous MS degree (in health care) that I don't expected to be compensated for, but believe will help me interview for more than the typical starting OT settings. I'm also graduating with CLT certification because I enjoy wound care care and hope to have a better chance at landing lymphedema/out-pateint/wound care openings. I plan to ask the for the median salary based on the bureau of labor statistics rating for my area and negotiate down from there. It may not work, but I'll just have to wait and see.
 
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occupationalguy

occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
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DPT / OTD
I decided to add OT salary by SETTING here for all of you from top setting pay to LAST:



 
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occupationalguy

occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
242
204
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DPT / OTD
There are a few reasons to hire a new grad over an experienced OT. For example, a new grad with a master's degree could have more research experience than an OT with a BS.. which could presumably bring more evidenced-based or research-focused approach to the therapy team. Some facilities may require OTs to participate in research (such as a teaching hospital). Also a new hire could have more experience with a population, within or apart from OT, over a seasoned OT.

I absolutely agree with you. One qualifier: I think when we talk about salaries it is important to focus on generalizations vs. specific outliers. These are statistics from the government BLS: with error rates factored in. Stats repeatedly support the position explained by AOTA: a this time data does not support the notion that higher degree equals higher starting salaries.

Do you have any evidence of practitioners starting off at the median salary for OTs? That would be amazing if so, I would move to that city immediately if I know where that happens. In general statistics tell us that median salary is the career median as well. Entry level practitioners do not typically start off at median salary. They usually start off somewhere around or below the 25% percentile of earners in our field. Sure, you might earn a TAD more for higher education, but the data doesn't seem to support this sadly according to AOTA.

Statistics support the fact that the highest paid setting is education and research and development, followed by SNF and Home health. Most practitioners will be in the field, not engaged in research. In general, hiring managers in most settings won't be sought for research. Major hospitals, SNF, and home health settings don't typically prioritize research: they're focused on your ability to treat your patients, your clinical knowledge base, and not least your ability to bring in profit margin for your company. It's the sad reality: most of these fields don't much care if you have an OTD vs a a MS: you can bill just the same.

Most places won't pay you more for a PhD- but a university would. So I agree with you, there are ways for you to make it work. Imho an OTD at this time is ill advised for entry level practitioners due to the reasons stated above.
 
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occupationalguy

occupationalguy

2+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2016
242
204
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DPT / OTD
Final Salary Post: Salaries in NYC. A starting clinician in a typical setting in NYC can expect to make 70-75k at her or his first job. At 30% of your income you would have $1300 for a studio in NYC. Doesn't seem possible. This might dash my dreams of living in NYC.

https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150409/upper-west-side/want-rent-manhattan-studio-youll-need-earn-107k


Since most landlords require a yearly salary that's roughly 40 times the monthly rent, that means a tenant in the average Manhattan studio would need to earn about $107,640 a year. Guarantors who co-sign leases — usually family members — are often required to make 80 times the monthly rent, which would be $215,280 a year.



 
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Apr 20, 2016
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Stats are available by setting, and location. The two can be crossed and I can crunch SNF in XYZ City, Oupatient in XYZ city, School in XYZ city. Etc.
Hi! Can I get please get info for
Sacramento, San Diego, LA, San Jose, Berkely in SNF, outpatient, school, and inpatient!

Thank yo so much for taking the time to do this!