Every day, thousands of therapists across the country help children succeed in school. For many individuals, working as a school-based therapist can be the ideal career, thanks to the nature and importance of the job. Based on therapist feedback from across the U.S., here are our top-five benefits of being a school-based therapist:
Most obviously, education equips children with the knowledge and skills necessary to reach their personal, professional and life goals. Because of school-based therapists, students are better able to engage in the material presented to them in important subjects like English and math while learning the vital skills that will help them throughout the rest of their lives in topics like writing, reading, interpersonal communication and time management.
Without school-based therapists, many of these children would never develop these important skills. As the American Occupational Therapy Association notes, a school-based therapist focuses on improving “the student’s ability to fully access and be successful in the learning environment.” As school-based therapists work with students, they can see them develop stronger feelings of comfort and confidence at school, which is an incredibly rewarding aspect of a school-based therapy career.
Whether you work as a school-based occupational, physical or speech therapist, every case you work is unique, based solely on the specific needs of the student. This constant change presents an ongoing opportunity to use the full range of your knowledge and skill-set, allowing you to explore and engage in new areas of practice and methodology to help you and your students succeed and overcome challenges. The unique needs of each student are considered when school-based therapists develop Individual Education Plans that outline the therapy treatment prescribed for each student, which is a process required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Flexing creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills is important to many therapists, and the school environment meets and exceeds this important job satisfaction goal.
Since school-based therapists follow the schedules of the school-day, they start and finish their days earlier than other professionals and have weekends, holidays and summer vacation off. This freed-up time gives you the opportunity to travel or develop your professional skills through courses, workshops and certification programs. Instead of visiting multiple homes or clinical centers in one day, as some traveling therapists would, you get to go to work in a single setting day after day.
“Demand for school-based therapists is only growing.”
Demand for school-based therapists is only growing, making it a lucrative career path with job security. Therapists in general are expected to have faster employment growth than many other industries, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that OT jobs will grow by 27 percent and PT jobs by 34 percent. School enrollment has also increased each year over the past decade and is expected to reach a record 56.5 million in 2025, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. These two trends contribute to growing demand for school-based therapists.
Working as a school-based traveling therapist you get to enjoy a new school in a new town or state as often as you’d like, giving you the opportunity to get to know different types of communities and environments year-to-year. For example, demand for school-based therapists is especially high in rural communities where parents often have to drive their children to visit school therapists in larger neighboring towns or cities. By taking on an assignment at a school in a new place, you not only satisfy your love for travel by seeing new sights and meeting new people, but you get to pursue your professional goals of making an impact and improving lives. The experience of traveling as a school-based therapist can be a very rewarding adventure.
School-based therapists play a critical role in children’s development and happiness, making the career path incredibly fulfilling. Keep these benefits in mind while you consider working as a school-based therapist for a community in need.