Occupational Therapists

Occupation:Occupational Therapists

About the job

Nature of work:

Occupational therapists develop individual and group programs with people affected by illness, injury, developmental disorders, emotional or psychological problems and ageing to maintain, restore or increase their ability to care for themselves and to engage in work, school or leisure. They also develop and implement health promotion programs with individuals, community groups and employers. They are employed in health care facilities, in schools, and by private and social services agencies, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties:
Occupational therapists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Analyze clients' capabilities and expectations related to life activities through observation, interviews and formal assessments.
  • Develop intervention programs to address clients' needs related to self-care, work and leisure activities.
  • Maintain clients' records.
  • Establish personalized care plans working as a member of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Consult and advise on health promotion programs to prevent disabilities and to maximize independent function in all activities of life.
  • May supervise support personnel and students and provide training.

Occupational therapists may specialize in working with specific populations such as children or adults, or persons with distinct problems such as dementia, traumatic brain injury and chronic pain, or provide special interventions such as return-to-work programs.

Sample job titles:
  • clinical occupational therapist
  • clinical occupational therapy specialist
  • community occupational therapist
  • home care occupational therapist
  • occupational therapist (OT)
  • occupational therapist vocational evaluator
  • occupational therapy rehabilitation consultant
  • research and development occupational therapist

To work in occupational therapy, you must have a genuine and sensitive interest in people and their ability to achieve. You must be able to communicate effectively with people and demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility, good judgement, patience, and self-discipline. Occupational therapists must be creative and unique in their approach to each client.

Job requirements:
  • A university degree in occupational therapy including supervised fieldwork is required or graduation from an occupational therapy program approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) is accepted in some provinces.
  • Completion of the national certification examination may be required.
  • Licensure with a regulatory body is required in Nova Scotia.
  • Membership in the national association, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, is required in some provinces.
  • Occupational therapists may obtain expertise in a particular area through additional training or experience.
Other considerations:

Occupational therapists may progress to management or administrative positions through further training and experience.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Good

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is better than average when compared to other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. However, competition for positions may be low due to few qualified jobseekers. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, which will provide additional opportunities for employment. With a small percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are not expected to be a major contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Occupational Therapists most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically temporary positions (such as a term, contract, or casual work).

The median employment income for 59% of Occupational Therapists who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $69,252. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Occupational Therapists345Strong growth115Low
Minimum: $32.00
Median: $37.40
Maximum: $39.00
Minimum: $21,334
Median: $64,403
Maximum: $73,705
Occupations in Health36,515Strong growth4,385Low
Minimum: $16.38
Median: $25.50
Maximum: $41.00
Minimum: $10,740
Median: $43,853
Maximum: $88,944
Occupational TherapistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
Percent employed full-time86%77%
Percent self-employed0%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentOccupational TherapistsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton10%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley7%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeOccupational TherapistsCompared to: All Health
% Employed% Employed
Median Age3944
GenderOccupational TherapistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
% Employed% Employed
EducationOccupational TherapistsCompared to: All Health
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax1.1%$27,581
High schoolN/Ax6.9%$24,119
Trades certificateN/Ax5.0%$31,728
College certificate or diploma4.3%x39.4%$36,693
University certificate or diplomaN/Ax4.8%$50,769
Bachelor's degree47.8%$72,55727.6%$57,186
University advanced certificate or diploma4.3%$54,9752.3%$61,833
Master's degreeN/A$60,4085.1%$87,808
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax7.2%$83,000
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Occupational Therapist
Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
College of Occupational Therapists of Nova Scotia
6960 Mumford Road, Suite 2132B
Halifax, NS B3L 4P1
(902) 455-0556
(902) 455-0621
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Society of Occupational Therapists
6960 Mumford Road, Suite 2132B
Halifax, NS B3L 4P1
Tel: (866) 936-7768
Fax: (902) 453-5899
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
100-34 Colonnade Road
Ottawa, ON K2E 7J6
Tel: (613) 523-2268
Fax: (613) 523-2552
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Occupational therapy/therapist
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to assist patients limited by physical, cognitive, psychosocial, mental, developmental, and learning disabilities, as well as adverse environmental conditions, to maximize their independence and maintain optimum health through a planned mix of acquired skills, performance motivation, environmental adaptations, assistive technologies, and physical agents. These programs include courses in the basic medical sciences, psychology, sociology, patient assessment and evaluation, standardized and non-standardized tests and measurements, assistive and rehabilitative technologies, ergonomics, environmental health, special education, vocational counselling, health education and promotion, and professional standards and ethics.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Additional resources:

Work Occupation Video(s)

Occupational Therapist