Career Guide

OT Salary

OT Salary

Have you done your research? Is the salary you’ve been offered fair or reasonable? If you’re not happy with what you’ve been offered, are you ready to negotiate for what you are worth?

Occupational Therapists
2018 Median Pay:
$84,270 per year   |   $40.51 per hour
Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Occupational Therapist Assistants
2018 Median Pay:
$60,220 per year   |   $28.95 per hour
Bureau of Labor and Statistics

The first step to getting the salary you want and deserve is doing the research and finding out everything you can about the salary ranges for the position you are seeking.

With the right combination of knowledge, resourcefulness and motivation, you’ll be able to secure the job you want with an offer that reflects your value and meets your needs. So let’s get started. What is your market value?

PART 1: Know Your Value

OT Salary Survey & Data

OTsalary.com is a crowdsourced data website that contains the only open source, user-generated OT salary survey and data, allowing you to filter and search OT salary information based on your location, practice setting, experience and education level. Created by and for OT practitioners, this is an invaluable resource created by none other than Kate Washa Boyd, an incredible human being and my dear friend, who is generous enough to also serve as a team member, contributor and sounding board here at OTmiri.com.

"This data is always current, always growing, and always available for your salary negotiation needs."

- Kate Washa Boyd, MSOT, OTR/L | Creator of OTsalary.com

The median Occupational Therapist salary is $80,270 per year and the median Occupational Therapy Assistant salary is $60,220 per year. These figures may vary depending on years of experience, company size, practice setting, company size and location. For example, according to the BLS, the top 5 paying states for occupational therapist are Nevada, New Jersey, California, Arizona and Washington, D.C. For occupational therapy assistants, the top 5 paying states are Texas, New Jersey, Nevada, California and Virginia.  

*Beyond the annual median salary information, the BLS provides other insightful data such as top paying states and regions with highest employment levels.

Here are other websites and online tools to compare and cross reference your salary based on your location & level of experience.

AOTA has provided an annual salary overview based on years of experience, practice setting and region based on ~13,000 survey responses. If you are an AOTA member, you can purchase the full 100-page report for $29.00 (Non-Members $259.00) or just view a broad overview for free by visiting the AOTA website.

Research the average salary range for your chosen practice setting. According to AOTA, OTs and OTAs are compensated the highest in Academia, Home Health, and Long Term Care / Skilled Nursing Facilities.

PART 2: Get What You're Worth

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

– John F. Kennedy

Exude Confidence

You cannot negotiate for what you are worth without knowing your own value. So let the confidence that comes from the knowledge of your own value guide every step of your job application and negotiation process.

Don’t Be the First to Bring up Salary Talks

As mentioned in the OT Job Interview Questions and Sample Answers article, wait until you have a job offer before you negotiate your salary so that you have a number to respond to. If asked about your salary requirements, you can answer in a range that reflect your understanding of your value based on the location and practice setting, as well as your level of education, experience and skills. 

“Based on my skills, education and experience for this position, I believe I should be paid in the range of $85,000-95,000.

It is important to demonstrate that you have done your research and are aware of what is considered fair and reasonable for the position, location, years of experience and company size. 

Consider the Whole Compensation Package

In addition to your salary, consider negotiating other factors into the compensation package to ensure your priorities, goals and needs are met. Think about what you want from the job, both in terms of salary and benefits. Inquire about professional development, upward mobility, continuing education or training opportunities, as they will go a long way in your long-term marketability, growth and success. 

Below is list that I made for myself to help me with the salary negotiation.

  • Health/Dental Insurance 
  • Retirement Contributions
  • Onsite training Mentorship 
  • Continuing Education
  • Professional Membership (AOTA | NBCOT) 
  • Loan Repayment options*
  • Work Hour Flexibility

*Employer-Funded Loan Repayment or Forgiveness Programs: While some employers may publicize their loan repayment or forgiveness programs, not all companies openly display this information. So be sure to ask about any type of loan forgiveness assistance they offer and the details/terms you have to meet in order to qualify.

Get Your Offer in Writing

Your job offer and terms should be received in writing. If you receive a job offer over the phone or during an interview, ask the interviewer or hiring manager when you might be able to expect the offer in writing. This is not only common practice, but it will allow you more time to understand and evaluate the full offer so that you can negotiate any of the terms of the offer.

Entering the field as a new occupational therapy practitioner can come with a steep learning curve. And that’s where finding a high quality continuing education program can really make a difference. For me, it was important to have continuous access to resources and learning materials that would make me feel both confident and competent as a new practitioner. So I chose MedBridge. And I can honestly say that it’s been the best investment I made. If you would like to explore this option and find out if this program could be the right fit for you, check out my article My Top 5 Reasons for Choosing MedBridge.