When students graduate as either speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, or physical therapists, they have many choices when it comes to work settings. Many therapists find that the advantages of serving therapy in school-based services fit well with their desired lifestyles.
Often overlooked and widely undeserved, the professions in school-based therapy provide some of the most beneficial work environments in any industry. 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 six benefits of being a school-based therapist: These benefits include:
Significantly Improve Children’s Lives
Most obviously, education equips children with the knowledge and skills necessary to reach their personal, professional and life goals. Due to the hard work 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 skills such as 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.
Dynamic Work Environment
No one wants to be stuck doing the same droning task for the rest of their life. We all seek excitement and diversity, not only in our personal lives, but also in our careers. This is something that can be easily found in school-based therapy jobs. Working in a school exposes a therapist to countless different personalities, cultures, personal backgrounds, and languages. The work environment is fundamentally dynamic, and always leaves you open to new surprises and experiences. The dynamic nature of school-based therapy is something that few other industries offer and is one of the greatest benefits of the job.
Since school-based therapists have weekends, holidays and summer vacation off. There are many built-in holidays throughout the school year. Consider one week off for winter and spring breaks, Thanksgiving breaks, and other holidays sprinkled throughout the school year calendar. 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. Vacation time may be one of the most overlooked aspects of participating in a school-based therapy job is the. School-based therapists get to enjoy close to 3 months of vacation throughout the year. When working in such a high maintenance industry, no matter how rewarding it may be, it is always good to take some time to yourself. Having a school-based therapy job provides just that benefit.
Attractive Salary Rate
Given that therapists are required to work only 10 months out of the year, the pay scale is appealing.
Since school-based therapists follow the schedules of the school-day, they start and finish their days earlier than other professionals. Therapists with children at home appreciate the chance to be home at a decent hour to have time with their families.
Demand for school-based therapists is only growing, making it a lucrative career path with job security. Therapists 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.
In recent years, jobs in physical therapy have become more available in schools, as school athletic programs have taken on a more serious initiative to maintain the health of their athletes.
Therapists can compare school-based services to working in medical environments, such as hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, or other medical settings. Those working in medical settings can expect some of the following:
- Fast-paced settings. Hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are very busy places.
- Longer workdays. Workdays in medical settings can run well into the evenings. Therapists may also be required to stay beyond their set hours and work on weekends and holidays.
- Fewer days off. Medical-based positions are year-round and do not provide the frequency of breaks that school-based positions do.
- High productivity levels. Therapists can be subject to very strict and elevated productivity levels, which rarely account for time spent on activities not directly related to therapy but critical to patient care. These include consulting with family members, medical staff, and other therapy disciplines; completing documentation; etc.
- Varied caseloads. Medical settings provide a variety of caseload opportunities; however, they also have their own hurdles. For example, patients may vary from day to day, making it difficult to build rapport with patients and their families.
- Increased health risks. Patients in hospitals and nursing homes are very medically involved, so therapists working in these settings are at increased risk for exposure to highly contagious and infectious diseases. Universal safety precautions are paramount when working in a medical facility.
School-based therapists play a critical role in children’s development and happiness, making the career path incredibly fulfilling. As you can see, the benefits of becoming a school-based therapist far outweigh the day-to-day stressors of the job. You are helping children create a better tomorrow for themselves in their most formative years. For whatever therapy you decide to pursue, whether it be special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy, you can be sure to find a fulfilling environment, personally and professionally. Keep these benefits in mind while you consider working as a school-based therapist for a community in need. The great salary doesn’t hurt either.
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