American occupational therapy as a female dominated profession is rooted in the WWI era with its labor shortages, an influx of disabled soldiers, and pressure to include women in the war effort. Improving the performance of veterans’ daily living activities was seen as the most effective therapy for those mentally and physically injured in battle. Women teachers, nurses and social workers were recruited to serve as “reconstruction aides” – the original occupational therapists. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 94% of all employed OTs today are still women. Beyond this history and statistic, there are some basic reasons why Occupational Therapy is a great career path for women:
- Work/Life Balance: A recent global LinkedIn study showed that two thirds of the world’s women equate success with having the right work-life balance. About a third of American OTs work in school settings, where scheduled vacations and flexible hours are especially conducive to therapists with families. Home care and travel positions also allow professionals to set their own hours and workloads.
- Job Growth and Satisfaction: A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) research survey notes that women’s satisfaction at work is tied to both opportunities to use their skills and to job security. With OT job growth expected to increase 33.5% until 2020, women’s criteria are sure to be met.
- Salary: Although the LinkedIn study revealed that high earnings was more of a priority for women five years ago, the SHRM survey shows that compensation remains a factor in their career fulfillment. Forbes has consistently ranked OT in the Top 20 paying jobs for women and 2013 is no exception. Salaries vary by state, with New Jersey, California, and Texas reporting high mean wages for 2012. (See BLS for full list)
Women make up almost half of the U.S. workforce, and the majority are full-time. Gender gaps remain concerning compensation, but are closing. At Centra we value the significant role that women play in healthcare professions, including Occupational Therapy. We are ready to help you achieve the right combination of the above factors in order to optimize your career. Call us at 800 535 0076!