The benefits of occupational therapy continue to be recognized across the USA, especially in schools. Occupational therapists are important in allowing people to make the best use of their bodies, overcome challenges, and recover from injury. In schools, OTs help children with daily-life activities that allow them to thrive socially and academically. The profession is also expected to grow by 18% between 2018 and 2028, much faster than average. And as the demand increases, so will their average salary of an occupational therapist, which is currently $84,950 a year. We’ve been looking at all the factors that make a city a good place to live for someone looking for an occupational therapist job and have put together a list of the best locations.
Using cost of living data and wage and location information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we calculated the top 50 cities for school occupational therapy in the US. We’ve listed our top 10 locations below, but, as with most job and location comparisons, there are pros and cons to each. Check out our list and get inspired in your next OT job search. And if this list inspires you to become an occupational therapist, make sure to check out the best colleges for occupational therapy!
Qualifications Needed to Become an Occupational Therapist
There are several steps one must first complete before they enter into a career in occupational therapy. The first criteria required is schools. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in a related field you are then required to obtain a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. A master’s program will include time in the classroom and also a clinical portion where you will practice and gain experience in the field. After you receive your degree you then need to be licensed and credentialed, which varies from state to state.
10. Lima, Ohio
Total score: 210
10th on our list of best places to live for Occupational Therapists is Lima, Ohio – often nicknamed ‘the bean’ after the lima bean. Lima offers high wages and low cost of living, but only has 15 Occupational Therapists positions per 10,000 jobs. Currently, the annual mean wage for OTs in Ohio is roughly $84,000 a year. If you are interested in working in Ohio, you can contact the Ohio OT, PT, and AT Board to find out exactly what is required to work in this state as an occupational therapist.
9. Camden, New Jersey
Total score: 212
Directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Camden is 9th on our list. The birthplace and home of poet Walt Whitman, Camden remains a vibrant community with a highly diverse population. With the abundance of community initiatives and events providing plenty to do for residents of the area and the high average wages, Camden secured its place in the top 10. Not to mention, the average salary of an occupational therapist in New Jersey is $96,820.
8. Erie, Pennsylvania
Total score: 212
Erie’s total score is on par with that of Camden, but the greater number of jobs available in the area for Occupational Therapists means that this city is just inching ahead.
Known as “gem city” owing to the sparkling waters of its namesake lake, Erie offers 18 Occupational Therapist jobs per every 10,000 positions, four more than Camden’s 14. Within easy driving distance of both Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York, Erie offers small town living without isolation. The State Board of OT, Education and Licensure can you make sure you a properly credentialed so you are clear to work in Pennsylvania.
7. Battle Creek, Michigan
Total score: 222
Famous as the birthplace of Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Battle Creek was noted for its work on health reform in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The city still looks like a great place to make a career in therapy, with 20 Occupational Therapist jobs per 10,000 positions in the area and a low cost of living for residents. Battle Creek’s job market in general also looks promising, with opportunities on the rise, up 2.02% in the last twelve months.
6. Cumberland, West Virginia
Total score: 224
Cumberland offers the most employment opportunities, with 40 out of every 10,000 jobs for occupational therapists.
Unfortunately, Cumberland has a slight compromise on wages in comparison to higher-rated cities, but a more extensive job market will mean better career opportunities. However, even though the mean salary isn’t as high compared to other cities, the cost of living in West Virginia is not nearly as much as major cities.
5. New Bern, North Carolina
Total score: 229
This riverfront town is best known as the home of Pepsi, which was invented here in 1890. Today you will find great opportunities for Occupational Therapists, with 23 jobs per 10,000 in the area, and high wages. As of May 2019, there were well over 3,000 occupational therapy jobs within the state.
New Bern is a historically rich area, with plenty to do for those who love finding out about the past. Stores and churches in the city date back as far as the early eighteenth century, and there are 164 homes and buildings on the National Register.
4. Bay City, Michigan
Total score: 229
Bay City’s name gives away that this is another water-front location. Bay City straddles the Saginaw River, sitting not far from its mouth onto Lake Huron. The area is well known for its sailing and other watersports and attracts a regular flow of tourists, which keeps the area vibrant and lively.
With 29 positions per 10,000 jobs and low cost of living, Bay city is a great place for occupational therapists to carve out their careers. It also has plenty to offer in terms of out-of-work activities, from dining to sailing. The higher number of jobs in the area allow Bay City to just inch out in front of New Bern as a top place to live for occupational therapists.
3. Kokomo, Indiana
Total score: 257
Indiana’s 13th-largest city, Kokomo is a hub of activity for those looking for a vibrant lifestyle. Equipped with historic buildings, public art spaces, live music venues, boutique shopping, hiking trails, and a regular farmers market, Kokomo is a well-rounded area with something for all tastes. Additionally, occupational therapists have the potential of making up to $110,000 per year working in Indiana.
It is a great place to live as an occupational therapist. Although only 19 jobs out of 10,000 are occupational therapist positions, the high wages and low cost of living in Kokomo go a long way towards making up for this.
2. Gadsden, Alabama
Total score: 257
Gadsden ranks 2nd in our list, as well as featuring in the top 10 cities for Speech-Language Pathologists. Situated on the Coosa River, it is rich with experiences for lovers of the great outdoors, with Noccalula Falls and James D Martin Wildlife parks nearby. These outdoor spaces are great for families and provide picturesque views for those who are appreciative of nature. To work in Alabama as an OT you first need to contact the Alabama State Board of OT for up-to-date licensing information.
Like Kokomo, Gadsden has a low cost of living and high wages, but Gadsden inches ahead as it has 20 jobs in 10,000 which are occupational therapist positions, compared to Kokomo’s 19.
1. Homosassa Springs, Florida
Total score: 276
Home to an impressive state wildlife park, Homosassa Springs, Florida, tops our list of locations for Occupational Therapists. With 31 jobs per 10,000 being Occupational Therapist positions, it is well above average for employment opportunities. In addition to this, Homosassa Springs has a low cost of living, coupled with the 2nd-highest average wage in our top 50 cities. As a state, occupational therapists in Florida make an average salary of $83,000 per year.
These factors make Homosassa Springs an ideal location for a career in Occupational Therapy.
The overall ranking were calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics data on multiple job profiles, including Occupational Therapists. All available metropolitan areas were ranked by jobs per 10,000 to get an initial top 50. Each city in this top 50 was then given a percentile-based score for three different categories: number of job opportunities per 10,000 employed, average salary (adjusted for cost of living- taken from Best Places.net) and cost of living – these scores combined produce an overall score and ranking.
Interested in a new school occupational therapy job? We have incredible opportunities across the US. Check them out through the button below!Occupational Therapy Jobs