Why Occupational Therapy Needs More Men


Are you a man who's questioning his career? Read on to learn why men are needed in occupational therapy and why they are so important.

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Professionals, researchers, the AOTA, and other qualified surveyors have been studying the problem for years: why are there so few male occupational therapists? There has been speculation through the years, and studies have revealed answers that range from the surprising to the obvious.

When asked, many men say they view occupational therapy as a female profession. This is a big problem. Yes, OT is a profession dominated by females, but most women in the profession will tell you men are just as important to it. In times like this, where men are scarce, men can sometimes be more important not only for the profession itself, but for certain clients. For example, if a 200-pound man fell and broke both his legs, he would probably feel better about relying on a male occupational therapist, who he knows could more easily pick him up and carry him, than a female who might not be able to handle the weight.

Male occupational therapists are needed in all the same places as their female counterparts. Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, career centers, nursing homes, schools, private practice, and mental health facilities are all in an immediate need of male OTs.

When asked, Josh Springer and the boys at brOT Movement said, “Not only men, but individuals from varied cultures are needed in OT because they provide unique perspectives and inputs that can drive the profession forward. We believe that in order to serve the needs of our clients, we need to have a diverse workforce. We contend that increasing cultural and gender diversity is the vehicle through which occupational therapy will reach a position of power among the health care professions.”

So what are some of the things holding men back? Josh had a great point. The lack of men and men and women from varied cultural backgrounds could be a starting point. More men from different ethnic groups on selection panels in schools could also help recruit more men into occupational therapy.

In the past, men who left the profession said they didn’t feel OT gave them room for advancement, and salaries were low. Some men felt that occupational therapy was regarded as a lower-status health related career than a being a doctor. This is simply unacceptable.

Why Men Should Consider OT as a Career

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to increase by 41 percent by 2022. Occupational therapists are in demand like never before. Here are a few reasons why men should consider occupational therapy as a career:

Salaries: salaries are increasing everyday. In fact, depending on where you live and where you work, you could be making over six figures a year. While the highest paid occupational therapists were making around fifty thousand annually 30 years ago, that figure now stands as the lowest salary an occupational therapist could make.

Job Opportunities: occupational therapists are seeing a rise in the amount of positions open to them. Plus, there is a wide range of places an OT may find work including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, private practice offices, and more. Job security has also derived from the  increase in job opportunities over the past several years.

Education: OT programs are more hands-on these days. Not only do students get to learn in a classroom, but fieldwork is also a mandatory part of ones OT education. In the past, men surveyed were asked how they liked OT school and most said they disliked it because it was mainly classroom work and not enough hands-on experience. Well friends, the people listened and curriculum is now geared towards more hands-on education.

Leadership: as with any growing field, more job opportunities means more leadership roles are available too. What’s ironic about this is while men make up only about 5 percent of occupational therapists, they hold more leadership roles than women.

Diversity: as mentioned before, occupational therapists work with a diverse clientele. Depending on where you work and live, you may have one client who is five years old and suffers from autism and another who’s 60 and has multiple sclerosis.

The list of reasons goes on and on, but the bottom line is that occupational therapy is a growing field and men are just as important as women. Some clients need a male role model in their life, something a woman cannot provide. If you are a man looking for a career that is unique, challenging, and secure, that pays well, and allows you to work with a variety of people in different phases of their lives, then occupational therapy is the career for you!

Get started today by checking out occupational therapy schools for OTs and OTAs near you. You can complete your education in as little as four years, and be well on your way to creating a new life for yourself and your clients.

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