Occupational Therapy VS Physical Therapy

There is often confusion between OT and PT,This will be a quick run down of the differences.


OT: To maintain, recover, or develop skills of people with physical, mental, or cognitive disabilities. Focusing on improving a persons daily abilities and improving life skills.

PT: The treatment of a disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise. Evaluating and diagnosing movement dysfunctions.

Daily Roles:

OT: An OT works with people of all ages, helping with anything from handwriting with an elderly person to calm down techniques with a child. An OT’s patients vary from an elderly person who experienced a stroke, to a young child with autism.

PT: A PT works with people of all ages. Focusing on strengthening a certain muscle that could have been damaged due to injury or a birth deformity. A PT techniques are different from an OT, A PT works with exercise and massage to correct an injury.


OT: Typically, if you talk to someone about OT they have no clue what you’re talking about. It is not a very well known job. It is also hard to explain to someone who has never heard of it.

PT: Almost everyone knows what a PT is, because chances are that some point in everyone’s life, you are going to need PT. It is a very well known job and understood easily.

Salary Differences: 

OT: median $78,810

PT: median $82,390

a difference of just over $3,500  


OT: Bachelors in practically anything, but must include certain courses. Masters in OT.

PT: Bachelors and masters. Some PT’s hold a doctorate.


OT: National Occupational Certification Examination

PT: National, Physical Therapist Examination


Getting Into The Business

Yesterday I met with an occupational therapist. In my 18 years of being around occupational therapists I have never met one that isn’t the nicest person in the room. She was extremely helpful. We talked about schooling and even volunteer opportunities for me. Here are three main points she told me on how to get into occupational therapy masters program:

  1. Get a bachelors in anything, but make sure it has the required classes for the OT program you want to apply for. I’m planning on psychology, and she said that many of her colleagues have a bachelors in psychology.
  2. The more experience you have, the more likely you will be excepted into an OT program. Specifically volunteering with an OT or with children.
  3. It takes a minimum of 6 years, 4 years for a bachelors and 2 years in the OT program. The OT I talked to took 2 years in-between to work with kids. This gave her more experience, like I said, the more experience the better.

The OT I talked to said that it’s harder to go into private practice right away, so it’s best to get a job within the health care system, i.e. a hospital. Private practice makes a lot more money, and thats what I want to do in the long run, but start within a system to gain experience and seniority. There is a huge need for paediatric private practice which is great for people like me who want to open a private practice eventually. The OT I spoke with told me she’s always wanted to work with kids, and I have also always wanted to too. Being in the field is a very rewarding job. From what I see, its the best job out there.