Occupational therapists in the United States earn on average $81,690 per year. In Canada, the average pay stands at C$59,000 ($44,896 USD) and the range of pay in the United Kingdom runs from 21,909 ($27,279 USD) to 41,373 ($51,517 USD). An occupational therapist salary in Australia is similar. Occupational therapists in Australia earn about AU$59,317 ($45,611 USD). Occupational therapists earn between NZD$45,000 ($32,447 USD) and NZD$110,000 ($79,323 USD) in New Zealand.
How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Make?
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Occupational Therapist Salary Determinant Factors
Occupational therapists work in establishments such as clinics, hospitals, schools and nursing homes. The particular setting influences the salary of the therapist.
Salaries can differ based on whether the therapist works in the private or public sector. In New Zealand and the United Kingdom, governmental agencies serve as significant providers of health care and employers of occupational therapists. These agencies establish pay scales based on experience and seniority. Non-government employers may consider these factors in pay decisions. However, there are numerous other factors that influence an occupational therapist salary.
1. How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Make by State?
Occupational Therapist Salary in the US
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists in the United States earn on average $81,690 per year. The median pay stands at $80,150, with the top ten percent of earners making above $116,030 per year.
Occupational Therapist Salary in Canada
PayScale reports an average wage of C$59,000 per year for occupational therapists in Canada. Total earnings range from C$47,375 to C$91,663.
Occupational Therapist Salary in the UK
The pay for occupational therapists in the United Kingdom range between 21,909 and 41,373.
Occupational Therapist Salary in Australia
According to PayScale, occupational therapists earn on average AU$59,317 annually. Total pay range runs from AU$47,789 to AU$83,997 annually.
Occupational Therapist Salary in New Zealand
The New Zealand Government reports that salaries for occupational therapists in that nation range from NZD$45,000 to NZD$110,000 annually, depending on experience and setting.
2. How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Make According to Experience?
PayScale reports that occupational therapists in the United States have a median salary of $66,000 at entry-level. After gaining five years of work experience, the average pay rises to $76,000 and then to $82,000 after ten years of experience. Occupational therapists in the late stages of their career, after 20 years, earn a median salary of $86,000 per year.
According to PayScale, occupational therapists in Canada at entry-level earn a median salary of C$61,000. For “Mid-Career” and “Experienced” occupational therapists, the median pay stands at C$79,000 per year. After 20 years of experience, the median climbs to C$87,000 per year.
Entry-level occupational therapists are paid at “Band 5,” where salaries range from 21,909 and 28,462.Those at “Band 6” and “Band 7,” who are specialists and senior professionals, earn between 26,302 and 41,373. As consultants, pay ranges between 40,028 and 57,640.
In Australia, entry-level occupational therapists earned a median salary of AU$60,000. Median pay reaches AU$74,000 after five years of experience, AU$79,000 at ten years, then remains at that level thereafter.
For recent graduates in New Zealand, the minimum pay is NZD$46,500 per year. With six years of experience, occupational therapists can make as much as NZD$65,500. In positions with advanced responsibilities such as supervision, salaries run between NZD$69,000 and NZD$95,000 annually.
3. How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Make According to Work Environment?
In the United States, “Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)” had the highest median salaries for occupational technicians, at $88,780. The median salary in “Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists” was $82,610 as of May 2015. In elementary and secondary schools, occupational therapists had a median salary of $69,460.
Occupational therapists in Australia with mental health skills or in that sector earned 42 percent above the national average. Those with “Disability Support” skills made 14 percent higher than the average, while therapists in the “Rehabilitation” field had salaries at four percent above average.
In New Zealand, occupational therapists employed by District Boards of Health make between NZD$46,500 and NZD$65,500, with advanced therapists earning from NZD$69,000 to NZD$95,000. Occupational therapists in private practice can earn between NZD$45,000 and NZD$110,000. Pay in the private sector depends on the ability to charge certain rates and find patients and clients.
Generally, occupational therapy is a full-time job, though part-time therapists have a visible presence in the profession.
In the United States, approximately one-quarter of occupational therapists in the United States worked part-time. As of 2015, approximately 77 percent of occupational therapists in Canada worked full-time, close to the 81 percent of employees overall in Canada working full-time.
In Australia, the average work week for an occupational therapist lasts 31.6 hours per week, below the 40.2 hours per week for all occupations. Approximately 46.9 percent of these therapists serve full-time. Occupational therapists in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service have a standard work week of 37.5 hours. Occupational therapists may work evenings and weekends to accommodate patient schedules.
Bonuses and Benefits
PayScale reports that bonuses for occupational therapists in the United States run between $300 and $8,139. In Australia, bonuses have reached as high as AU$14,899. For occupational therapists in Canada, PayScale recites bonuses of C$5,000.
Occupational therapists may find incentives and bonuses to practice in under-served or rural areas. For example, as of September 2015, the New Foundland provincial government included occupational therapy among a list of “difficult-to-fill” occupations that qualify for signing bonuses.
In New Zealand and Australia, salaried occupational therapists are entitled to paid annual leave and holidays. Additionally, employees in these countries receive pension benefits through superannuation, or employer contributions.
Occupational therapists employed in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom receive 27 days of holidays and pension benefits generally vesting at age 65 years.
An increasingly elderly population, patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and children with autism are among those who rely on occupational therapists. For instance, according to Autism Speaks, approximately one in every 68 children in the United States have autism. The need to serve these and others will sustain demand for occupational therapists.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 27 percent rise in employment of occupational therapists by 2024. Job Bank projects that, by 2024, Canada will have 8,500 occupational therapists pursuing 8,800 job openings, indicating solid job prospects.
According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook, job openings for occupational therapists should number between 5,001 and 10,000 by November 2019. Job Outlook projects employment to grow “very strongly” by November 2020. As of November 2015, Australia had 16,600 occupational therapists.
The New Zealand Government rates job prospects for occupational therapists as “average,” citing difficulties for new graduates.
Employment prospects should remain solid for occupational therapists, as clients and patients use therapy to treat physical and psychological conditions. Higher salaries flow to therapists with accumulated experience or seniority. In certain places, occupational therapists can earn bonuses for performance or relocating to areas with critical needs.