According to The American Staffing Association (ASA), Occupational Therapist has officially been labeled as the hardest-to-fill occupation of the past 12 months. Of the 172 positions listed in their quarterly ASA Skills Gap Index, Speech Language Pathologist, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapy Assistant followed Occupational Therapist among the top 10.
“The demand for occupational and physical therapists and speech-language pathologists is on the rise for a number of reasons,” says Kyle Mattice, President of The Execu|Search Group’s Health Services division. “Baby boomers are aging and are not only retiring from these positions, but in some cases, need these services themselves. On the other end of the scale, there’s an increased need in occupational therapy services for school-aged children due to the increasing number of special-needs cases and a broadening awareness of the benefits these services offer them.”
In fact, the 2012-2022 job outlook for occupational therapists sits at a cushiony 29% which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is “much faster than average.” With so few occupational therapists in the market to meet this burgeoning demand, needs for occupational therapy assistants have also risen drastically, creating a skills gap that employers are finding tough to compete with. Though physical therapist job growth exceeds that of occupational therapists in the same 10-year period (36%), the latter seem to be the most difficult to find.
This naturally means that those in rehabilitation therapy will likely have plenty of options in a job search; however, while it’s nice to be in-demand, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean employers are compromising quality to fill positions. It’s just as important as ever that candidates in these fields remain relevant in the industry to ensure they can beat the competition and land a role with one of their target employers.
So how can rehab professionals do so to take advantage of these opportunities? First and foremost, it’s important to keep skills sharp—especially if a professional has been out of work for some time or has remained in the same position at the same company for years. The allied health industry is constantly changing and has especially transformed since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so employers are looking for candidates who have stayed up-to-date in the field and are equipped with the latest skills.
One great way of obtaining and honing skills is to take on temporary work, especially in home healthcare, but the benefits don’t stop there. According to Tim Lynott, an Account Executive for The Execu|Search Group’s Bridge Travel Healthcare division, rehab therapists also enjoy a number of other perks including flexible scheduling, more control over your workload, and a closer relationship with each patient. You can learn more about the many benefits of home health care here.