Why Is It So Hard To Find an OT Job As a New Grad?

When you’re in the process of becoming an occupational therapist, you will probably hear a lot about how in demand OTs are. Based on the numbers, OTs are in demand, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states job growth is expected to increase 17% from 2020 through 2030, which they note to be “much faster than the average for all occupations.”

Occupational therapists are versatile and can work in so many different settings, and the jobs are out there (even throughout the pandemic).

However, if you’re a new occupational therapy grad, you may have found that finding an OT job is harder than you thought. 

OTs are usually in high demand depending on the city’s job market. But as a new grad, you might be wondering, “Why is it so hard for me to find a job, even after I passed the NBCOT and have my license?”

The reason it’s so hard initially is because some employers are hesitant to hire new grads and want OTs with experience.

When I was first applying for these jobs, I found myself and my classmates asking the same question…

“How on earth are we going to get experience when no one will hire us?!”

It is truly a frustrating conundrum to find yourself in when you’re just out of school and ready to start working. The thoughts of, “Nobody will hire me because I don’t have experience and I can’t get experience because no one will hire me… because I don’t have experience…because…” start creeping in.

It’s not fun, I know.

The good news is that with some persistence and patience, you will eventually get hired. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones to get hired at your Level II placement, internet job boards will become your best friend.

Job Boards Breakdown

I spent a lot of time on job boards, and I eventually found my dream job in inpatient rehab at a local community hospital. I would dedicate an hour every evening applying to any OT jobs that I wanted experience in, within a 45 mile radius of my town, checking every day for new job postings. It took me about five weeks of doing this before I finally got my first interview for the job I wanted. 

I found Indeed.com to be a great resource for finding the most current and active job listings. Indeed pulls in listings from almost every other job board out there, and you can (and should) sign up for daily job alerts so you can apply as soon as they’re listed.job_search_indeed

Another online job board you can try is Zip Recruiter. You can also try finding positions on LinkedIn, just make sure your profile looks polished and professional before you reach out to companies or managers.

Note: Not all therapy companies use online platforms, so if you know the places you’re interested in, check their own websites for job postings. You can also reach out to them directly to see if they have any positions that aren’t yet posted.

Be Prepared for Calls From Staffing Companies


After adding your resume onto Indeed or another site, you may notice that you’ll suddenly get an onslaught of recruiters calling you for mostly travel jobs. The jobs could also possibly be for contracts in your city.

These are often staffing companies who get paid for each successful placement. They may try to offer you positions that are not in line with what you are really looking for.

For example, as soon as my contact information got out there I received random phone calls for full-time positions all over the U.S. Even in Kansas, and I lived in Atlanta! That’s great if you can afford to pack up and leave your city, but this isn’t common for most new grads. (Unless you want to explore travel therapy as a new grad, which is a fun way to gain experience in multiple settings in new places).

If/when you get contacted by a cold-calling recruiter, make sure to do your homework before signing onto the company; read as many reviews of the company as you can and be sure to thoroughly interview them as well.

No matter the job, be very careful if you get offered a huge sign-on bonus or loan reimbursement. It is a safer bet to apply for jobs at reputable hospitals vs. taking the first SNF (skilled nursing facility) position you can get, since hospitals will generally have less ethical dilemmas and better productivity standards.

The worst situation to find yourself in as a new grad is one where there is a complete lack of mentorship, unrealistically high productivity targets and huge caseloads. 

Landing an Interview


When you finally land your first few interviews, you’re definitely going to want to prepare for them. All those nights of applying will have added up and you want to ensure you ace the interview so you don’t have to keep playing the waiting/application game.

What I had to keep telling myself is that if they’re taking the time to interview me, they’re interested in hiring me. Telling yourself this can help take the pressure off a bit.

If you’re offered the job, keep in mind the last thing you want to do is take any random OT job for the sake of getting a job right away.

If you know it’s not a setting that you want to work in, it’s too far away, you’re really not excited about it, or it just doesn’t feel right, you DO NOT have to take the job if they offer it to you.

It’s your decision and your future career!

The biggest thing to do is just to be confident and know that if the interview doesn’t work out, you’ll always have another chance somewhere else. This is easy compared to OT school!

Read The Complete Guide to Your First OT Job Interview for more advice on how to handle OT job interviews successfully.

Stay Motivated!

I know that putting in such a huge amount of time applying to jobs and playing the waiting game doesn’t sound great, especially after all of the time you spent in OT school and studying for the boards. You’re ready to get out there and it’s hard when it can take over a month (or several months) to land your your first job.

Look on the bright side – you finished grad school and passed the boards! The hardest part is over.

Take some time for yourself to decompress a bit after the rigors of OT school and studying for the boards. Don’t feel like you have to rush into a new job a week after you pass the boards; you have the whole rest of your working life to be an OT.

Take the time to get your ideal job, and know that many other OT grads are also having the same challenge as you.

Just keep at it, and know that once you have a few years of experience, the process of getting a different job will be much easier.

occupational therapy job search

One last word of advice: Once you’re offered a position, it is important to make absolutely sure there will be other occupational therapists at your setting that can mentor you.

As a new occupational therapist, there is SO much more to learn your first few years, and you do not want to be out there on your own as the only OT (I learned this from experience!) 

Still Feeling Frustrated?

I know that the job search has gotten even harder since 2020, so if it’s been many months of applying to countless OT positions and you still haven’t gotten a job, here are a couple of other options to try.

Start Out as a PRN Therapist

While it’s not optimal to not have benefits or regularly scheduled hours, I’m noticing that today in 2022 and over the last several years, many rehab positions are hiring more PRN therapists than full-time therapists.

At my last acute care position, almost all new OT hires were hired on as PRN. This can feel like a frustrating situation, but now is becoming the way to get your foot in the door to become a full-time OT. Many of the new grads at my job were able to transition to full-time when a position opened up, before the job became available to outside applicants.

You may have to work two PRN jobs to get enough hours, but after being a PRN OT myself for the last six years, the variety and flexibility (plus higher hourly pay) isn’t a bad deal! I’ve written a whole post about the pros and cons of being a PRN OT here.

Consider Relocating

This one is not easy for most people, especially if you have family or a relationship that can’t come with you. If you do have the flexibility, though, there are cities and states that have quite a few more opportunities than saturated cities. A saturated city (meaning there is a much higher supply of OTs than demand) is usually a city that has multiple OT schools or is a very popular place to live. 

Along with looking into cities that don’t have as many OT schools, you can also check out this comprehensive Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics page from BLS to see if there is an area with high OT employment that you would be interested in living in. 

Stay Active in OT-Related Social Media Groups

Jobs are posted frequently in various OT social media groups, so be sure to join as many of these active groups as you can to keep an eye out for postings there. You can also get a lot of insight from other OT practitioners in these groups about whether their city has a solid amount of jobs or if it is saturated.


I hope this post helps you on your way to landing your first OT job and eases some anxieties. Just be patient and know that it will happen!

If you’re in this position now, what is the most frustrating part of the job hunt for you? Do you have any other tips for new grads that are looking for their first job?

This post was originally published on January 17, 2016 and updated on April 3, 2019 and February 1, 2022.

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  • Abbie March 27, 2019   Reply →

    Hi Sarah,

    I recently passed the NBCOT and have been applying for jobs the past few weeks. I would really like to work with adults in either a SNF or hospital setting. Ideally, I’d like to start full-time so I get the training and experience that I need. What has been frustrating to me is that it seems that most of the jobs in my area are either for travel therapy, early intervention, home care, or PRN/pool/per-diem positions. Traveling is not an option for me, and I would rather not be on my own in home care or early intervention right off the bat. It’s also a bit disheartening to not hear anything from the employers after I submit my application. Should I broaden my search and lower my expectations for a first job as an OT? Thank you for your post–it’s good to know that I’m not alone in this process!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 27, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Abbie, trust me that you aren’t alone! I actually just spoke with a new grad about a week ago about this, so rest assured that it’s not just you going through it. It does take longer than you would think once you get out of school, partly because Human Resources might take longer than optimal at times to sift through applications, but know that you will get a call back! Another new grad that just started working at my hospital said it took her a little over a month to get a call back, so just hang in there. You could also start with a PRN job in the meantime while you wait for a full-time position in a setting that you want to work in. Don’t feel like you have to settle for a setting that isn’t what you want though, just keep applying and you’ll get there.

      • Abbie March 29, 2019   Reply →

        Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I appreciate it 🙂

    • Chris March 10, 2021   Reply →

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for this article . I passed the NBCOT in December and started looking for jobs in late February and every company that I have seen prefers to hire experienced OTs or they don’t offer what I need such as mentor ship which is discouraging. Your article has given me hope in my search for the ideal job for me. Thank you for writing this article.

      • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 12, 2021   Reply →

        I’m so glad to hear it was helpful for you! Keep at it and you’ll get there 🙂

  • Kelley March 31, 2019   Reply →

    Thank you for this insightful and motivating article! I graduated in December and have been applying to jobs since early February. I have even had a few interviews that ended up choosing someone with more experience 🙁 I have been getting quite discouraged but I do try to keep telling myself that something will work out, where and when it is supposed to! Thank you for the resources as well!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 31, 2019   Reply →

      Just keep at it! It’s so hard now but thankfully once you do have a few years of experience down the road, the job search process gets much easier. Best of luck to you, Kelley!

  • Jen April 11, 2019   Reply →

    I cannot tell you how helpful this article is! Thank you so much! I have been looking for jobs since I passed NBCOT in February. My ideal setting is either acute care or inpatient rehab, however, it seems like they always want someone with experience. I feel like all my classmates have found their dream jobs except for me. Some of them found a job even before getting their licence and I really do not know how that happened…it has been extremely frustrating and discouraging. I have been getting calls asking if I want to be an school OT, which I prefer not…Thank you again for the article so I know that I am not alone! I know it will work out eventually!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L April 11, 2019   Reply →

      I’m so glad it was helpful for you! Know that your ideal job will come with time 🙂 Just keep at it!

  • Maria Levina June 26, 2019   Reply →

    Hi Sarah,

    I am a new grad looking for work in Atlanta so this really resonated with me. I have been searching for jobs since I took and passed my boards in early June and have so far only had 2 interviews (one of which resulted in a rejection). I was wondering if you had any advise for contacting hospitals and following up on or if you had any advice in general for the Atlanta area.

    Thank you!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 27, 2019   Reply →

      Being a new grad is the hardest part since you don’t yet have experience, but definitely keep applying and sign up for a daily Indeed job alert so you can apply as soon as jobs are posted. It might also be hard to get a hospital position at first, so I actually started out at an ALF doing outpatient before I got my hospital job (which I applied to probably at least twice). It still took me about two months before I started working, and I think this is pretty typical in the Atlanta area. Just keep at it, you’ll definitely get there!

      • maria levina June 28, 2019   Reply →

        This has definitely been the post/pep talk I needed. Thank you!

  • Tara June 30, 2019   Reply →

    I’ve been a therapist for 22 years and this week along with a half a dozen of my colleagues got laid off from Genesis. We were replaced by new grads and because there are no jobs anywhere the new grads are willing to take $20 an hour and no guarantee of any work past 20 hours a week. All positions are part time everyone rotates the weekends everyone’s doing holidays. This is in prep for RCS one in October 2019 Please reconsider if you’re thinking of going into therapy and do not go into the doctorate program for physical therapy. I myself am getting out of the field permanently

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L July 1, 2019   Reply →

      I’m so sorry to hear you and your colleagues are going through this! I’m not sure how commonplace the layoffs are in the skilled nursing settings, but as an acute care OT, we are seeing more hires than we’ve had in the past several years with no layoffs in sight. I’ve also been told by staffing agencies that while subacute jobs will take a hit with the Medicare changes, there will be more home health positions available since there is a big push for patients to go home with HH. If you do decide to stay in the field, definitely consider acute care, home health or outpatient, since the Medicare changes will not have the drastic effect that they will have on SNFs. And for any new grads reading this, I would NOT recommend taking any job that is $20/hr. When you’re interviewing, absolutely be sure to look at the averages in your area and nationally on OTsalary.com, and don’t settle for such a low rate. You will likely need to negotiate but using these numbers while you do will help you get the rate you deserve.

  • Kristy Guzman July 22, 2019   Reply →

    Hi Sarah,
    This post made me feel more at ease with being a new grad. I’m a newly certified COTA and I’m running into similar problems of positions only wanting OTR’s for full-time work. I accepted a PRN job at a SNF but have only been called in one time to treat. I’m having a hard time looking for other jobs because I don’t know when I will be needed at the SNF. I looked into ABA therapy to just get into a similar scope in the meantime. Any thoughts on that? It seems to be a significantly lower pay rate. I don’t know if I should accept it to just get familiar with working with kids as a new-grad and to have a job when I’m not needed at the SNF. Any thoughts and advice would help!

    Thank you!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L July 23, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Kristy, I’m glad the post made you feel more at ease! I’m not as familiar with ABA therapy but if they have an open position, it might be worth taking it in the meantime while you continue to look for COTA positions. I would also keep applying for more PRN COTA positions since it seems like you aren’t getting solid hours with your current one. You can always keep it and pick up when you have the time but it doesn’t hurt to have multiple PRN jobs anyway to ensure you’re always getting enough hours. I hope this helps!

  • Kristy July 24, 2019   Reply →

    This helped very much! Thank you

  • Cindy Kisik, COTA/L August 27, 2019   Reply →

    I so appreciate the article but am having a horrible time finding ANYTHING. I got my certification in MARCH and have only had one interview to date. I have applied to a lot of different facilities and am discovering there just aren’t enough jobs for the number of COTAs here in Northeast Ohio. I am very worried that I won’t remember any of my training once I DO get hired. Have you ever heard of it taking this long for someone to get their first job? Thanks so much!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L August 28, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Cindy, I’m so sorry to hear this! I have heard it’s much harder for COTAs to find jobs right now due to the upcoming SNF Medicare changes. If your area has multiple OT and/or COTA programs, you might consider expanding your search to areas that have minimal or no OT/COTA programs. This can help your chances of finding something. In the meantime, you could read your textbooks or take short online continuing ed courses to keep the knowledge fresh. Best of luck to you!

  • Tara August 28, 2019   Reply →

    Honestly the company that I just got hired by no longer uses assistants. Occasionally a PTA on a weekend or holiday but never COTA. The market is flooded with OTR’s and they are getting hired a record low hourly rates that I knew COTA’s a few years ago that made more. My advice is to get into a rec therapy position as a Cota…I’m really thinking the profession is on the way out at least on the west coast. We don’t hire them anymore because no need to.

  • Cayla October 28, 2019   Reply →

    I graduated last year and went right into travel OT. I instantly got hired in Virginia and then Texas full time positions. I have great references and have been complimented on my OT work. I’m now back in my home state of Michigan and have been looking for a permanent position since May, it’s been 7 months now and I’ve been PRN with several home health companies that either never give me patients or I’ll get a max of 3 patients per week. I can’t travel anymore I really have to stay in Michigan. I was so desperate that I had 2 job interviews with Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals just part time and Contingent positions. My mom passed away a month ago and I still showed up to the interviews the day my mom passed. I was turned down by one hospital and still haven’t heard back from the other. It’s insane to me that I can’t even get a contingent position right now. I’ve thought about going back to just be an RN because I’ve almost lost all desire to be an OT at this point. But then again I’ve had a very difficult couple of months in general. Michigan is oversaturated with OTs because they have 6 OT schools. So I feel like I made a huge mistake getting a Master’s degree and might just get a minimum wage job to even get by right now. I really don’t know what else to do.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L October 31, 2019   Reply →

      I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve heard Michigan is tough for jobs due to that saturation factor. Can you try to apply for a few more PRN positions? I just moved to CO and applied to four (!) PRN positions just to make sure I would get an offer (which I did, thankfully!) It seems like nowadays we have to apply to multiple PRNs and even get hired by multiple PRN positions to get enough hours. Definitely keep trying though! If you want to talk more about this, please email me any time at Sarah@myotspot.com and we can brainstorm a few more strategies. I wish you the very best of luck and keep at it for a little while longer before you consider going back to school!

  • Paige March 8, 2020   Reply →

    Wow, this board has been encouraging during a time of ambiguity! I am a new grad, I’ve only been applying to jobs only in the last month. I have only gotten one call back that was a) surprised to hear I was a new grad (when I wrote it in several places in the application) and b) told me they would call me back with interview times. I never did get the interview callback, nor an email telling me the position has been filled. I looked it up online. I have applied to 53 acute care and inpatient positions in 25 different states. I am willing to go where the job will take me. I even talked to 3 traveling recruiters, they are telling me they have zero hospital positions open? I am relieved to hear how difficult it is to get a job as a new grad and staying hopeful it will happen soon. If not I will move where I want to live and hope for a PRN position.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 9, 2020   Reply →

      That’s great that you’re flexible and applying out of state as well! You can definitely try getting a PRN job at a facility that you want to work at full time as they may be more willing to hire you once you’re “in” as a PRN versus an external applicant. Two of my OT coworkers went this route in acute care as new grads and now they both have full time positions. Keep at it and I wish you the best of luck!

  • Jim April 9, 2020   Reply →

    Hi, curious question. My daughter graduates Temple MOT this spring. She completed her first fieldwork but not 2nd due to the pandemic. Hoping to complete fieldwork 2 as soon as permitted then take the license test. Our disagreement is when to start applying for jobs. I’ve read that with a spring graduation one should start the process in January. We are now in April and she has not begun anything. She states she absolutely cannot start the process until she has graduated, has her final grades, and has fully passed her License exam. I’ve understood you can interview based on your expected schedule of taking the test in the next few months. I expect she might take her test in July-August timeframe. Can anyone provide guidance on if there is some law that says you cannot start the process before you graduate and take the test considering it is coming up in the next few months? Thanks

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L April 10, 2020   Reply →

      Because getting a job as a new grad can be more competitive (as many employers look for therapists with experience), I definitely recommend your daughter waits to apply for jobs until she’s graduated, has passed the NBCOT and has her state OT license. From my understanding, online job applications can sometimes automatically kick applicants out if they don’t check the box that they’re licensed and ready to start practicing. Post-graduates can apply for jobs if they have a temporary state OT license before passing the NBCOT, but oftentimes when working, studying for the NBCOT takes a back burner and reduces the chance of passing. I hope this helps and I wish her the best of luck!

  • Sonja June 23, 2020   Reply →

    This is so relieving to read. I had to fight tooth and nail just to take my NBCOT exam (rescheduled due to covid 5 times!) and there are almost no jobs in my area. No one is hiring because my county is still locked down, and probably will remain so for the foreseeable future. I’m really worried that when I finally start having jobs to apply for that interviewers will wonder why I graduated in December and didn’t get a job for like a year! Even though the answer is clear–due to the pandemic. Is it silly to worry about a long gap between graduation and getting a job?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 26, 2020   Reply →

      Hi Sonja, I would try not to stress too much about the long gap, since employers will definitely be aware it’s because of the current situation. Definitely keep applying though, since some positions will likely start re-hiring soon especially if they’re short-staffed with typical moves/job changes, etc. Just keep at it and try not to worry! Many new grads are in the same boat.

  • Shoshana August 3, 2020   Reply →

    Thank you for this reassuring and encouraging article! I recently passed my boards and received licensure in my state. It’s really difficult to not feel discouraged when there are so few positions available currently. I’m not sure if it’s due to the pandemic or otherwise, but I have had very little follow up from potential employers. My question is, do you think it’s wise to call a company after a little time has passed since submitting your application to find out if the position has been filled? Or does it seem too pushy?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L August 4, 2020   Reply →

      It’s definitely not too pushy to call! It’s commonplace to reach back out if it’s been a little while. Some facilities may still be on a hiring freeze with everything going on right now but it never hurts to reach out and see. Hoping you get something soon, but try to remember this situation makes things even harder than normal but definitely keep at it!

  • colleen October 7, 2020   Reply →

    Any advice for new COTAs? What are your thoughts on where the job market is headed for COTAs? I’ve been hearing COTA opportunities may significantly decline with medicare reimbursement changes taking effect in 2022. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Thanks!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L October 13, 2020   Reply →

      It’s definitely tougher market right now for both OTs and COTAs especially with hiring freezes due to the pandemic. Combined with the Medicare changes from last year it can be hard to find COTA positions in certain areas, so if you’re a new COTA grad, you may have to consider relocating from what I’ve heard from practicing COTAs. I would reach out to COTA Facebook members and ask about job prospects in your specific city to really get a feel for what to expect. I hope this helps!

  • Jordan January 11, 2021   Reply →

    I’m in the salt lake area. I’ve been an OT for 10 years and have never seen it this bad. I lost my FT job twice in the last 3 years due to budget cuts at different SNFs. I’m been out of work since April 2020 (9 months now). I’ve applied to about 50 OT jobs and have only received two interviews (that had 15+ applicants). The profession is rapidly on the decline due to Medicare cuts and the influx of new grads. I still continue to see these bogus articles on how OT is a great profession with strong job outlooks. It’s really a bummer when you invest over 100k for a masters education and have nothing to show for it. Most of these companies are hiring new grads so they can pay them pennies on the dollar. For those of you who have FT positions, be grateful. Im not trying to be nihilistic, but I can’t see it getting any better.

  • OT in HI January 25, 2021   Reply →

    I live in Hawaii and I’ve been an OT for almost 30 years. We put ads out for our local acute-care hospital and it was really very difficult finding ANY applicants for on-call or part-time position. It was as if no one was looking for OT jobs anymore, either that, or our applicants only wanted full-time, which we didn’t have at the time. Sometimes months would go by and we would only get one inquiry.

    As far as hiring new grad are concerned, I’ve hired a new grad after interviewing a lot of experienced therapists for one of our full-time, outpatient hand therapy clinics located in a hospital. There were even two CHT (Certified Hand Therapist) OT applicants that I’ve passed up, why? Because I loved the new graduate’s attitude. She had a great big smile, she was prompt and on time, she was genuinely interested in our hospital and she was an overall great fit. I made the right choice because we had hand study groups on the weekends for some of us wanting to get our CHT licensure, and she would come and join us, at her own free time, just to learn. I left the hospital a year after hiring her and she left shortly after I quit, and went back to California, where she was from.

    I’ve recently had a Level II MOT student, and she was so amazing that we want to hire her as soon as the position opens up and when she passes her boards. New grads have several things going for them – flexibility, easy to train, no pre-conceived notions of how things are done or should be done. I get so tired of hearing “we never did this in the facility that I used to work for”, you will never hear that with a new grad.

    I was a hiring manager that passed up very experienced people, so experience does not count for everything, so do not give up, new grads!!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L January 31, 2021   Reply →

      Thank you so much for sharing this positive perspective!

  • Katie February 25, 2021   Reply →

    Hi there,

    I’m a COTA and live in northeast ohio and have been trying to get a foot in the door for 2 yrs. I’ve hit the “experience required” tailspin, and as I’m coming up on my certification renewal I’m wondering if it’s even worth it. I can’t relocate and have tried applying pretty much anywhere in Ohio, but a more experienced candidate seems to always edge me out. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts? I really appreciate any help!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 26, 2021   Reply →

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this! I’ve been hearing from COTAs for the past year and a half that the market has been a lot harder to get into with the Medicare cuts, along with the job postings decline due to the pandemic which has made things that much worse. I would recommend joining as many job-related OT Facebook groups as you can to try to network with OTs and COTAs in your area that may know if job postings that aren’t yet listed on the search engines. I wish you the best of luck!

  • Christina March 21, 2021   Reply →

    Hi All,
    I have read the article and all of the responses with great interest. This response is based on personal experience, not meant as a Debby Downer comment.

    I became a COTA in 2013. It was a 2nd career choice as I needed a less demanding job to take care of my parents. Part of my decision making process involved the growth potential outlined in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have no idea where they figure out these numbers!!!!!

    Luckily, I landed a job as soon as I passed my certification exam. The majority of my classmates have gone on to other things than occupational therapy. It is really hard to make a living wage as a COTA in my region of the state.

    I work in OP in an ALF in southern Indiana. My company also has a stand alone therapy clinic, not affiliated with any hospital.

    My state has direct medical access for PTs and so, even in my clinic, when people call in ready for therapy, UEs are often given to physical therapy because they can start right away. The OT caseload is consistently much lower than the PT caseload.

    With all of the Medicare reimbursement charges planned for assistants, my owner has stated that she will probably never hire an assistant again. This goes for both COTAs and PTAs.

    I have seen a steady reduction of job opportunities for COTAs, as well as for OTs since I started as an OT practitioner.

    I plan on retiring in 2021 or 2022. I am so disheartened to see the OT profession suffer as it is. I just feel like we don’t get the recognition and respect, like our physical therapy counterparts. This is not bashing on PTs. I feel like PT, in general, does a much better job of marketing. This is just what I feel is the truth as I see it in southern IN.

    I attended an online documentation presentation recently put on by a PT. He kept talking how PTs had to start making everything functional in order to get reimbursed. His examples sounded very “OT.” It certainly gave me pause.

    Knowing what I know today, if I had to have a job to support me with a living wage, I would go for a nursing degree. There are so many things that you can do with a nursing degree.

    I am grateful that I had an excellent, well paying job w/ great benefits and a retirement plan, BEFORE I became a COTA. It allowed me to work at a job that only paid me for who I could see – no reimbursments for cancels, no insurance, no retirement, no payment for CEUs, etc. My “pay” has been in making a difference in people’s life. It has been my mission field.

    For those of you who are job searching – continued good luck! Please prove me wrong about our profession and find great jobs!!!!!

  • Nella Paoli December 29, 2021   Reply →

    I’m looking to start a second career at 50 and was looking into Becoming an OT in the New York area. I know I would make a great OT and would love to go to school again. Is this realistic for someone my age ? Just asking from reading previous comments that even the new grads are having trouble finding work . If it is possible what areas are likely to hire older Ot’s? If not what would career types/paths would fall inline / be similar to Ot that a persons of my age could start a career in?
    Thank you Nella

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L January 5, 2022   Reply →

      Hi Nella, I think you can become an OT at any age! The main thing to consider is the setting, as inpatient settings are typically much harder on the body due to patient transfers and mobility being a big focus. If you can, I would shadow in an inpatient setting like acute rehab or subacute to see what I mean, and then spend more time shadowing in outpatient settings like hand therapy, driving rehab or outpatient neuro rehab to see the differences. You will need shadowing hours for OT school applications anyway, so you can benefit from learning more about OT settings while prepping your application if you’re still interested in OT after observing. I hope this helps, and good luck!

  • Amber February 5, 2023   Reply →

    Hi Sarah!
    I have been a per diem OT at a skilled nursing facility for over a year and a half ( however VERY sporadically) and have zero mentorship . I decided during my maternity leave it’s time for a change however I feel even more out of the loop and unprepared since working at this job than when I first passed boards ! Also, I’m very interested in a pediatric position but have been told since I have no peds experience/ level 2 fieldwork placement it will be hard to land a peds job . Any advice ??!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 11, 2023   Reply →

      Hi Amber, I’ve also been working on making a possible peds transition as well after my maternity leave, and I’m currently being mentored by a peds OT who is helping me get connected with multiple pediatric clinics to begin shadowing at. She also just wrote an article about how to get into pediatrics that I’ll link to here as soon as I get it published! But the main thing to start with will be reaching out and shadowing at multiple peds clinics to begin learning and hopefully find your mentor at one of the clinics.

  • Katina Gudmundson, Talent Acquisition Partner March 22, 2023   Reply →

    My organization hires new grads, as well as experienced OTs!!!! Come to Fresno, CA!

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