According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, doctorate occupational therapists earn about the same as therapists who hold master’s degrees in the field. However, completion of doctorate programs can open up greater career opportunities to candidates. Employment services, management companies and physician’s offices are more likely to hire doctoral candidates, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national mean wage for occupational therapists was $73,380 annually or $35.28 an hour as of May 2010. Top earners in the field, including therapists with doctorate degrees, made as much as $102,520 annually. New entry-level candidates made as little as $48,920 yearly.
Possessing a doctorate degree increases your chances of being hired within the top-paying industries for occupational therapy. Top-paying employers include doctor’s offices, management companies and employment services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists in management companies earned an average of $79,690 as of 2010. Doctor’s offices paid about $79,500 per year, while employment services companies paid approximately $84,540 annually.
Location can affect your earnings as an occupational therapist with a doctorate degree. Top-paying states for occupational therapists include California, New Jersey, Nevada and Texas. California therapists made an average mean wage of $84,320 as of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nevada and New Jersey therapists earned an average of $82,980 and $82,420, respectively. Occupational therapists residing in Texas earned about $81,800.
Doctorate programs in occupational therapy can be very expensive with limited financial aid options. State licensing and certification programs typically require only a master’s degree. You might want to consider working in the field for several years before deciding whether or not to pursue a doctorate degree.