Occupational Therapy Pays Off
I share an office with an Occupational Therapist who doesn't really have much time to talk because she's got so much to do.
I know it sounds crazy, but the schoolhouse is probably the best place to go nowadays looking for a job in OT. There are lots of things going on in education with budget cuts, layoffs and other sorts of monetary considerations, but OT--anything in Special Education--is pretty solid because those children HAVE to be serviced by law so you know you're going to be hanging around doing something.
Now, you don't get constant contact with the kids because you may not see them all that often so you really have to be good at managing your time and making something out of nothing. If you see a child only once a week who really has a hard time holding a pencil then you REALLY need to know how to get things done fast so that kid can write better.
Also, working as an OT keeps you from being tethered to the school building because most school systems house their "specialty" instructors off-site in a specialty campus. This helps for a few reasons:
1. You don't have some principal hovering over you all the time. The Principal may be the nicest person ever, but sometimes it's nice to not be "stood on" by someone who needs things done and has you as a captive audience in their building.
2. You can VERY EASILY create a schedule that is conducive to your work habits and may even help if you're in school for an advanced degree.
3. You can work with a Supervisor of all Therapists who can help you AND knows what's going on. Many times schoolhouse administators honestly don't know all that goes into therapy. However, working with a supervising therapist gives you the best chance to get good feedback AND grow professionally.
Now, you have to have a Master's Degree in most states to work as an OT, but you still may want more schooling than that. Most people can be very comfortable with the income level that a Master's Degree provides, but you may want to get a Doctorate and teach or get a Doctorate just to increase your pay.
If that's your endgame then just be sure you know what you want to do with that degree. Many times there will be a push for you to get into administration as soon as you have a Doctorate. If you don't want to do that then you need to think very strongly about teaching college because some school systems will even push you into administration--basically--against your will.
In the end you have to be smart about Occupational Therapy, but you can easily get into a good career that helps kids AND pays well. Just beware of the implications of getting "super-educated". As soon as you do that then you can get paid AND enjoy your job at the same time!