Is Becoming a Doctor of Occupational Therapy Worth It? Exploring the Value

September 29, 2020

Occupational therapy is a diverse profession that ranges across various settings and age groups, from neonatal care for newborns to specialized care for seniors and individuals of all ages. This fulfilling profession will allow you to support individuals in achieving independence, adapting to changing health conditions or disabilities, and enabling them to acquire new abilities and approaches to regain a self-sufficient lifestyle.

The demand for occupational therapy is growing steadily due to several factors:

  • As the population ages, there is an increased need for rehabilitation assistance for individuals recovering from injuries or managing chronic conditions.
  • Also, advances in medical treatments have led to more people surviving serious illnesses and injuries, which in turn leads to a greater demand for long-term rehabilitation and therapy services.
  • Schools, workplaces, and community organizations have started recognizing its value in enhancing productivity and well-being, contributing to the increasing demand for occupational therapists.

Still wondering if a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) is worth it? The rise of OTD programs, which represents a significant trend in occupational therapy education, reflects the profession’s commitment to meeting the evolving healthcare needs of the population. This positions occupational therapists to provide comprehensive, client-centered care and actively participate in healthcare leadership and innovation.

Continue reading to discover if the doctorate aligns with your aspirations, delve into the variety of programs available at NEIT, their distinctions, and curriculum, explore the highest-paying Occupational Therapy careers in the United States, and discern the reasons behind selecting NEIT’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy. 

Meaning and Purpose of Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession focused on helping people of all ages restore their participation in meaningful and necessary activities in their daily lives. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to help people achieve a higher level of independence and functioning, even when faced with physical, emotional, cognitive, or developmental challenges.

A Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) is an advanced professional degree program that equips individuals with the highest level of education and expertise in the field, preparing them to become licensed occupational therapists and leaders in healthcare. People who pursue degrees in occupational therapy are passionate about helping people overcome physical, emotional, or developmental challenges and improve their quality of life.

Differences Between Entry-Level vs. Post-Professional OTD Programs

Once you’ve chosen to pursue a career as an occupational therapist, you have many educational opportunities to help shape your ideal career. There are mainly two degrees to consider based on whether you aspire to enter the field or are already a practicing occupational therapist seeking further specialization. It’s important to carefully assess which degree pathway aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Let’s compare these two levels to help you make an informed decision that will ensure you invest your time and resources wisely and avoid pursuing an incompatible path.

  • Entry-Level OTD: These programs are designed for individuals who do not hold a prior occupational therapy degree and are looking to enter the field. They provide the foundational education required to practice as a licensed occupational therapist, including coursework, clinical training and rotations, and a culminating project.
  • Post-Professional OTD: These programs are intended for licensed occupational therapists with a master’s degree who wish to seek career advancement, specialization, leadership roles, or research opportunities. They provide advanced education that focuses on research, leadership, and specialization. The coursework includes evidence-based practice, advanced clinical skills, and a doctoral project or dissertation. While clinical training may be part of the program, they are fewer compared to entry-level programs and are intended to enhance the expertise of practicing therapists.

Deciding If a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Is Right for You

Regardless of whether you have a background in the healthcare field or are contemplating a career shift, the key is to identify the ideal path that aligns with your aspirations. While your dedication to occupational therapy and the desire to facilitate rehabilitation is commendable, returning to an educational journey, like pursuing a doctorate, is a tough call.

No matter your educational or professional background, here are a few compelling reasons why a doctoral program is a great choice:

  • Fostering Positive Impact on People’s Lives

Occupational therapists(OT) go beyond the role of medical advisors. They thrive as compassionate leaders who assist and inspire their patients to regain or preserve independence, conquer cognitive challenges, and reintegrate into the workforce and their everyday lives. If you’re enthusiastic and caring, pursuing a career as an occupational therapist may be the right choice for you.

  • Career Flexibility

OTs excel in diverse environments, making occupational therapy an ideal choice if you desire a career with versatile pathways. Also, you may be able to work with cutting-edge technology, including innovations like 3D printing for functional prosthesis training. Pursuing a doctorate will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to stay current in this constantly evolving field of medical technology

  • Career Advancement

If you’re presently employed in occupational therapy without a doctorate, pursuing one can significantly boost your career in occupational therapy and healthcare. It can lead to opportunities in field research, clinical leadership, education, and healthcare administration. If you aim to obtain leadership positions in occupational therapy, an OT doctorate can be a stepping stone toward achieving your goals.

Overview of Doctor of OTD Program Levels

A brief overview of what students can learn at various degree levels in occupational therapy.

Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy (OTA)

The Occupational Therapy Assistant, AS program will provide foundational knowledge of occupational therapy principles, clinical training in various health settings, and practical patient care and treatment skills. It will create awareness of the role and responsibilities of an occupational therapy assistant and provide a basic understanding of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. This program prepares students to sit for the national certification examination.

The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) offers comprehensive Occupational therapy courses like Foundations of Occupational Therapy Assistant Practice and Practice Lab, Pediatric Practice, Mental Health Populations and Practice, Adult Practice, Healthcare Communications, etc.

Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy (MOT):

The Occupational Therapy MS program provides a comprehensive understanding of occupational therapy concepts and practice, advanced assessment and intervention skills, and research and evidence-based practice proficiency. It gives an in-depth knowledge of specialized practice areas like pediatrics, mental health, gerontology, and clinical fieldwork experiences to develop clinical competence.

NEIT offers a specialized master’s degree program to transform Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants into occupational therapists who excel as leaders in critical thinking and problem-solving, particularly in managing healthcare and community service programs.

Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (PPOTD):

The online PPOTD Program presents registered OTs with an opportunity to enrich their academic and clinical expertise, enabling them to evolve into advanced practitioners. It equips them with leadership and management skills for healthcare settings to emerge as leaders in their field.

The PP-OTD program at NEIT spans four semesters, where students engage in a comprehensive process that includes the preliminary study, project design and proposal, project implementation, and a final defense to earn their doctoral degree.

Advantages of Earning a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

The advantages of earning a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) are:

  • It provides in-depth knowledge and advanced clinical skills, enabling OTs to provide higher-quality care and rehabilitation to clients.
  • With the increasing transition to doctoral-level entry in occupational therapy, having an OTD can give professionals a competitive advantage in the job market and earn a higher income than those with associate’s or master’s degrees in occupational therapy.
  • Leadership opportunities are available within healthcare organizations, academia, and the OT profession, allowing them to influence policy, practice, and research.
  • Opportunity to teach future occupational therapists and contribute to the education and development of the next generation of professionals.
  • Collaboration with other healthcare professionals, contributing to comprehensive and integrated patient care.
  • Advocate and influence healthcare policies and practices to improve client outcomes.
  • Career flexibility, research proficiency, and positive impact on client outcomes leading to a sense of personal and professional fulfillment.

Salary Trends of Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Occupational therapists enjoy one of the most fulfilling careers, which also holds true from the financial aspect.

So, what can an individual with an OTD degree expect regarding earnings?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for occupational therapists nationwide stands at $93,180 per year ($44.80 per hour). However, this number reveals only part of the picture.

Employment opportunities in this field are anticipated to experience significant growth, with a projected increase of 12 percent from 2022 to 2032, surpassing the average growth rate across all occupations. On average, in this past decade, 9,600 openings for occupational therapists are projected each year, many of which result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force through retirement.

Compensation levels can vary significantly due to several factors, such as location, experience, specialization, and employer. It can also be influenced by the industry in which you work. The top industries that offer the highest salaries to those with occupational therapy degrees are:

IndustrySalary per year
Home healthcare services$105,700
Nursing (skilled) care facilities$98,000
Hospitals – state, local, and private$95,370
Offices of physical, occupational speech therapists and audiologists$90,750
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private$83,070

Geographic location also is a critical factor in determining compensation levels. Salaries for OTD professionals in the United States can vary significantly by city.

Here are the top eight cities, as per, with the highest earning potential for Doctor of Occupational Therapy positions.

CitiesSalary per year
San Jose, CA$94,928
Santa Clara, CA$94,928
Fremont, CA$94,686
San Francisco, CA$94,550
Daly City, CA$94,550
Oakland, CA$92,281
Berkeley, CA$92,281
Hayward, CA$92,099

The top 5 States with higher salaries in the United States are:

StatesSalary per year
District of Columbia$84,202
New Jersey$83,272

What makes NEIT’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program a compelling choice?

NEIT’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program highlights the distinctive qualities and advantages that set it apart from other OTD programs.

  • It offers an accelerated program that allows students to complete their doctorate in a shorter time frame compared to traditional programs.
  • It’ s designed to be delivered online, offering flexibility for working professionals and those with busy schedules.
  • Strong emphasis on clinical practice and hands-on experience to prepare them for diverse occupational therapy roles.
  • Experienced faculty with knowledge and insights contribute to a high-quality educational experience.
  • Promotes collaboration and interdisciplinary learning by providing opportunities to work with professionals from other healthcare disciplines, thereby enhancing the ability to provide holistic care.
  • Encourages and develops research, practical skills, and critical thinking and offers career support to transition into desired occupational therapy roles.

NEIT’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program is a unique blend of flexibility, clinical focus, experienced faculty, and an interdisciplinary approach to provide students with a comprehensive and practical education that prepares them for successful and impactful careers in occupational therapy.


Earn your degree in ot from NEIT and begin your new career path today!





Is a Doctorate/Doctoral Required for Occupational Therapy?

A doctoral degree, either a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) or a Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy, is not always required to practice as an occupational therapist. However, it depends on your career goals and the specific roles or settings you want to pursue within the field. Many occupational therapists hold a master’s degree to become licensed practitioners, while doctoral degrees are typically pursued for advanced clinical or research positions.

Is occupational therapy a Ph.D.?

Occupational therapy can be pursued at different levels of education, including a Ph.D. So, while a Ph.D. in occupational therapy is not the same as a clinical doctorate (OTD), it is a higher level of education that focuses on research and academic contributions to the field. The choice between pursuing an OTD or a Ph.D. depends on an individual’s career goals and interests within the field of occupational therapy.

As an Occupational Therapist, What Is the Work Environment Like?

As an Occupational Therapist, the work environment can vary, but it often includes hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, and private practices. It’s a dynamic field where you help individuals improve their daily lives and independence through therapy and adaptation techniques.

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