Occupational Therapist Salary

Occupational therapy is a tough but rewarding profession, and few people choose this field for the money. Most occupational therapists are passionate about helping people lead better lives, and are intrinsically motivated by their work and their patients. Still, your education was not cheap, and it is only fair for you be to adequately compensated for your skills and hard work. As of 2018, the median salary for occupational therapists is around $83,000, but this can vary widely. Here are some of the variables that go into determining the salary of an occupational therapist.


Like most careers, occupational therapy pays more for those with a great deal of experience. In fact, your starting salary may be less than $70,000, while those at the top of the field could make more than $100,000. Experience matters more than education, with masters-level occupational therapists not seeing a significant salary increase over bachelors degree holders.

Supply and Demand

The reality is that occupational therapists provide a service, and the greater the demand for that service, the more it costs. If you live in an area with a sizeable elderly population but few occupational therapists, your salary will likely be higher than if you live somewhere with lots of OTs but a relatively small population of people who need your services.

Of course, average salaries also vary according to cost of living and insurance reimbursement rates. If you are considering a relocation, be sure to check average salaries for occupational therapists in the locations you are thinking about.


Where you practice will also affect your salary. Home health and skilled nursing facilities are typically among the highest paying, while schools often pay the least. Don’t let your paycheck be the sole driver for the setting you choose, though. Most OTs have a passion for a specific client population, and you will likely be happier working with those clients who touch your heart rather than working somewhere solely for the money.

Travel Occupational Therapy

If you are interested in seeing the country, either in the long term or just to try out different settings after graduation, travel occupational therapy can be lucrative as well as rewarding. Your compensation will likely be higher than in a permanent setting, and you may get extra perks such as a non-taxable stipend, paid housing, and even bonuses for completing assignments. Just be sure to read the fine print in your contract, especially in regard to health insurance, vacation time, and the ability to relocate from a position that isn’t the right fit for you.

As an occupational therapist, you will have the ability to choose from a wide range of positions and client populations. Pay scales vary, but most OTs are able to find a position that pays a salary they are comfortable with while also allowing them to work with the clients that most personally resonate with them.

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If you’re ready to boost your score on the NBCOT® exam, we invite you to contact Pass the OT today for more information or to choose the package that is right for you.