By Richard Asinof
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Occupational therapists are in big demand. The 2011 Compensation Data Healthcare survey results found the average base salary for occupational therapists has increased 6.3 percent to $69,700 in 2011 from $65,000 in 2009.
In Rhode Island, in 2010, a salary of $65,000 was the mean for a master’s-level occupational therapist, according to Rebecca Simon, the academic-fieldwork coordinator the New England Institute of Technology’s occupational therapy department.
New England Tech is now in its second year of offering a master of science in occupational therapy, the only master’s-level program at New England Tech, and the only master’s for occupational therapy in Rhode Island.
Nationally, health care jobs are hot and demand shows no signs of slowing, according to the survey.
In addition to occupational therapists, physical therapy assistants have also seen salary increases of nearly 6 percent since 2009, while EMTs have seen a spike in pay of 5.3 percent. The pay for staff nurses has steadily continued to increase, going to $57,600 in 2011 from $55,300 in 2009. Staff pharmacist salaries have risen from $106,200 to $111,400, which is an increase of 4.9 percent.
“While many industries are struggling to bring employment levels back to pre-recession numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of jobs in the healthcare industry will increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018,” said Amy Kaminski, director of marketing for Compdata Surveys, which conducted the survey, based on data from more than 1,100 employers reporting on nearly 5,300 locations across the country. “With this kind of growth projected within the industry, employers are not only going to have to ensure compensation packages are competitive enough to attract new talent, but also ensure they are competitive enough to hold onto existing talent as well.”