Your Occupational Therapy Salary Guide (2024)

The Occupational Therapy Salary Guide is your one-stop shop for understanding all things OT salary related. We dive deep into the numbers to help you understand your market value.

The salary for people with occupational therapy degrees can range from $60K to $1,000,000. And, we’re covering it all. 

We wrote this article to give you insight into the complex topic of occupational therapy salary. Whether you’re still looking into becoming an OT, considering options for your first job, or simply curious how your occupational therapist salary stacks up, this article aims to give you an idea of how the occupational therapy profession pays.

Occupational therapy is considered one of the most fulfilling and flexible careers in health care. Not only do OTs help dramatically improve the overall quality of patients’ lives, but we also earn a pretty solid income in the process!

But, as much as we pride ourselves on being client-focused, we do need to consider our own health—including our financial health—in order to provide the best possible care. OT can be a demanding career, so it’s important that we are fairly compensated for our efforts.

We all know that a couple extra thousand dollars each year won’t buy happiness, but it can make a difference to know you’re being treated fairly by your employer. Plus, there’s a sense of agency in knowing you can negotiate your compensation to ensure you’re earning what you deserve for all that hard work. We created this article to arm you with as much information as possible on the topic so you can enter salary conversations with confidence.

So, here’s to better understanding your OT salary!

Important: If you are looking for OTA salary info, please visit Your Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary Guide.


Active OT Job Listings with Salary Information

If you are currently in the job market, you might find this resource useful. Below, we have compiled all of the active jobs from our OT Jobs Page that include salary information in the listing. So, you will know how much compensation to expect before you apply.

Even if you are not currently looking for your next opportunity, these listings can help you get a sense of what you should be making—which might come in handy during your next performance review or salary negotiation!

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Average OT Salary ($97,371)

This average was calculated by OT Potential. We averaged the occupational therapy salaries from the above databases to create a master OT salary average.

According to our calculations, the average OT salary is $97,371.

This is our own calculation, and we based it on the average of multiple reputable sites’ findings, which we will discuss below.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Let’s start by explaining the actual process for calculating the average OT salary. You’ll notice that we cite many salary sources in this article. That’s because each entity uses its own method to collect OT salary data—and accounts for different influencing factors in its analysis. For example, some websites might break down salaries by state (or even by city), while others give a per-region or per-setting overview. Other sites focus more on individual experience level, certifications and specializations, or other salary factors.

Keep in mind that each source also has its own collection bias based on who chooses to submit data, who uses the resource, and how the data itself is collected. Our calculations are based on an average of all the data we found, some of which is presented as median versus mean findings.

Median vs. mean OT salary

It’s important to note that “median salary” is different from “mean salary” (also known as “average salary”).

To determine a median salary, all the salaries in a particular data set are stacked from lowest to highest. There is usually a cluster where most salaries lie. At the center of that cluster lies the median—or middle—of the stack. You might have some outliers that are either unusually high or unusually low, but they won’t skew the median salary.

By contrast, the mean (average) is calculated by adding up all of the salaries and dividing them by the total number of salaries. So, those outliers (the very low and very high salaries) could very easily skew the mean. This is important to consider, because there are quite a few OTs who only work part-time or PRN, and their annual salaries are lower for that reason alone—not because they’re making a terrible hourly wage.

With that out of the way, here are what various resources cite as the average (or median, in some cases) salaries for OTs. We have listed these sources in alphabetical order.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

The AOTA is the professional organization for the OT field in the United States. AOTA runs its own salary survey and updates it every few years. The most recent AOTA salary survey occurred in 2023.

According to the AOTA, the median annual pay for OTs is $74,731(up from $72,373 in 2018).

One piece of data, I want to highlight from their 2018 survey is that experience is a big factor in how much you can earn as an OT. For example, a brand-new OT with less than a year of experience made a median salary of $65,000. An experienced OT with seven to nine years of experience made a median salary of $73,000. And an OT with 26-plus years of experience earned a median salary of $84,000. Here’s the data in a chart:

Salary By Years of Experience

Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)

The BLS is a subset of the US Department of Labor. It’s the federal agency that keeps tabs on the labor industry. But it’s considered an independent statistical agency, which is why many people use BLS data as their primary source for salary estimates. The BLS does collect data fairly regularly, so you can usually find accurate salary information from within the last two years or so.

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for OTs was $96,370 in 2023. (This is up from $85,570 in 2021.)


Glassdoor is a reputable career platform where job seekers can learn about various companies, read and write reviews for employers, research interview questions for specific jobs and organizations, and search for jobs.

According to Glassdoor, the mean annual pay for OTs as of 2024 is $119,622. (This is dramatically up from $80,390 in 2023.) is another older player in the compensation game, but we’ve noticed that it tends to give higher numbers than we hear anecdotally. And this is across the board—not just for occupational therapy. So, take this number with a rather large grain of salt.

According to, the average OT salary in the United States is $98,762 as of 2024.

The site does provide a clear caveat, noting that pay rates can vary widely based on things like education, certifications, additional skills, and years of experience in the profession.


Do OTs make a lot of money?

The term “a lot of money” is relative, and it certainly depends on your frame of reference. For example, according to the US Census Bureau, the overall average annual salary was $61,417 for male workers and $50,982 for female workers in 2020. OT salaries—according to the data presented above—are significantly higher by comparison.

That said, when you compare OT salaries to those of radiologists or software engineers, you would probably say that we don’t make a lot of money.

Keep in mind that your salary as an OT is only one part of the financial big picture. What might feel like a lot of money to someone with no debt could feel like very little to an OT with 200k in student loans.

Generally speaking, OTs do make a lot of money as new graduates, but OT income doesn’t tend to climb as much, or as rapidly, as it does in other industries.


How much can a new grad OT make straight out of school?

There’s no simple answer for what amount of money a new OT can expect to make right out of grad school. Depending on where you work, the setting you choose, the patient population you treat, the hours and days you work, and how well you negotiate, you could end up with wildly different entry-level salaries. That being said, the AOTA has calculated an estimated salary expectation for fresh OTs.

According to the AOTA, a new grad OT will earn a median salary of $65,000 per year.

Remember, though, that you can certainly make more if you choose a setting like SNF or home health—or if you spend some time as a travel OT, which we’ll discuss more below.


Highest paying OT jobs

Many new OTs are saddled with ever-increasing amounts of student debt, so it’s no surprise that they are curious to learn about the OT jobs with the highest salaries.

According to WebPT’s OT Salary Guide, research and development, home health, and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) offer the highest pay to OTs.

Keep in mind that patient population (and their respective payers) will also factor in. For example, Medicare reimbursement rates tend to be higher than Medicaid rates.


Lowest paying OT jobs

Similarly, it’s always wise to know which settings and patient populations pay the least. While this data was harder to pin down, we know anecdotally that settings such as mental health and adult day care tend to offer the lowest compensation.

Keep in mind, though, that these settings also tend to be highly fulfilling, and they often lack the productivity pressures you’ll find in other settings.


Can OTs expect to have salary growth throughout their careers?

The short answer is, “sort of.”

While OTs are often pleased by their higher-than-average starting salaries (compared to peers at the same age), they’re sometimes dismayed by unimpressive raises—or no raises at all. This can be very frustrating for OTs with high debt burdens, especially as they watch their friends who didn’t go to graduate school surpass their own earnings at some point down the road.


How do OT salaries compare to PT salaries?

If you’re trying to decide between physical and occupational therapy as a profession, don’t stress too much. According to the BLS, the average PT salary is $99,710.

Comparing BLS average salaries, physical therapists really only earn about $10,050 more per year than OTs, on average. So, we recommend pursuing the profession that appeals to you the most, especially since factors like educational level, geographic location, and experience level can impact your earning potential more than the rehab degree you choose. For more information on this, check out our article, OT vs. PT vs. SLP: Your Rehab Therapy Team Explained.


How can I make more money as an OT?

One of the reasons you might have come upon this article was to find out how you can make more money. There are plenty of ways to increase your earning potential as an OT. Let’s explore some of them.

Pick a high-paying setting

Generally speaking, SNF (skilled nursing facility) and HHOT (home health occupational therapy) settings pay higher than schools and hospitals.

In May 2021, according to the BLS, the median annual wages for occupational therapists in the top OT industries were as follows:

Median OT Salaries by Industry

The 2018 AOTA Salary and Workforce Survey shared this breakdown of annual salaries by setting:

Median OT Annual Salaries by Work Setting


It’s not a guarantee, but some hospitals do pay more for more specialties. However, most hospitals base salary decisions on experience. You might be able to negotiate your pay at smaller facilities if you have certain certifications (CHT, etc.).

Here is a comprehensive list of specialities and certifications available to OTs.

Pelvic Health OT

One OT specialty that has been picking up steam is pelvic health. If you are thinking about specializing in pelvic health and are curious to know what sort of salary you can expect to earn, we recommend downloading the 2023 OTs in Pelvic Health Salary Survey results, created by The Functional Pelvis. This report is based on a survey of more than 200 pelvic health OT professionals.

According to the report, the median annual salary for a pelvic health OT employee is $80,000 per year, and 75% of those being paid annually make less than $87,000 per year.

The report also analyzes the impact of factors like experience level, having an OTD, practice setting, and geographic location. We especially love the breakdown of the states where your salary will go the furthest based on cost of living—that alone is worth downloading the full report!

But what is most interesting about this report is the focus on earning potential for private pay practice owners versus non-practice owners. To quote the report directly, “The clear winner for compensation is cash-based practice owners. Their median salary is $150/hr compared to a median salary of $100/hr for non cash-based practice owners and median salary of $43/hr for employees.”

Again, we recommend downloading the full report for a deeper look into this difference. This resource also includes insights from Lindsey Vestal, OTR/L, founder of The Functional Pelvis, and Doug Vestal, PhD, founder of Freedom of Practice, on their experience venturing into the world of private pay practice ownership.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a pelvic health OT, check out our Pelvic Health & OT course here and our Q&A with Lindsey here!

Work in one of the highest-paying states

According to the BLS, Nevada, California, New Jersey, Texas, and New Mexico are great picks. Keep in mind, though, that Nevada, Texas and New Mexico have much lower cost of living (overall) than California and New Jersey.

Here’s a chart of the states with the highest paying OT salaries.

You might be wondering why certain states pay more than others. That’s not an easy question to answer, but the general consensus seems to be a combination of reimbursement contract rates being higher, cost of living being higher, and market saturation of OTs being lower.

Consider OT work beyond direct patient care

Non-traditional occupational therapy jobs are all the rage these days, and that’s partly because they tend to pay better than clinical work. For example, according to AOTA, academia pays even better than SNFs and home health, and WebPT reports that OTs working in research and development settings also out-earn their peers in HHOT and SNF settings.

OTs as Executives

One area of non-clinical career growth that OTs are well suited for, but need to be strategic about pursuing, is executive leadership.

Diana Ramsay is an OT-turned-executive who eventually became the president of an executive search firm. 

According to Diana, OT professionals who pursue CEO positions in the nonprofit sector can expect to earn a salary ranging from $125k–200k in a small nonprofit, and up to $1,000,000—and beyond!—in a large nonprofit.

“These types of positions really give an OT the opportunity to build wealth,” Diana said. 

She also noted that there are other executive leadership positions beyond the role of CEO that OTs can aspire to—like those in internal ops.

If you are interested in researching nonprofit salaries, Diana suggests creating a free account at GuideStar, which enables you to search for and view 990 forms for nonprofits. On the 990, you can scroll down to section VII to see compensation totals for executive leaders. Here is an example from the nonprofit where Diana was CEO:

To learn more, check out Diana’s webinar, “Yes I Can…Yes I Will: Why Occupational Therapy Practitioners are Best Suited for CEO Positions,” which AOTA members can watch for free. Diana also offers coaching services to current and aspiring executives through The Ramsay Group.

Consider travel OT

Travel OT positions are almost always going to pay more than permanent roles. However, the travel industry can be shady, so we recommend working with Nomadicare so you don’t get taken advantage of. Laura Latimer, founder of Nomadicare, is an OT who was sick of being exploited by the slimy travel world. She came up with a really cool platform that vets recruiters and matches them with travelers.

Her platform also helps you maximize your earnings as a traveler. Nomadicare even has a handy Pay Comparison Tool that allows you to easily see how your compensation stacks up to other travelers in your desired specialty, location, and setting—all without talking to a recruiter.

“Travel therapy is a marketplace, which means pay is largely based on the current supply and demand of your specialty,” Laura said. “Jobs in different combinations of state and setting have different pay rates, which is why we created the pay comparison tool!”

According to Laura, travel OT pay across all states and settings averages about $1,952 per week as of 2024. That amounts to about $101k per year assuming that you work all 52 weeks. Of course, many OTs get into traveling for the flexibility, meaning they often do not work every single week of the year.

And keep in mind that pay can be quite a bit higher or lower depending on where you travel. In higher-demand states and settings, average weekly pay can be as high as $2,366 per week, whereas lower-demand states average as low as $1,660 per week.

Again, this is where resources like Nomadicare can be helpful. “It’s so important to be able to compare multiple offers at once so travel therapists can make sure they get paid fair,” Laura said.

As an affiliate and friend of Laura’s, we here at OT Potential completely support her and believe in what she is doing with Nomadicare. Check out her site here!

Work PRN

Working PRN (or per diem) can certainly help to boost your pay, as employers tend to issue higher hourly rates to therapists who don’t receive PTO or other benefits. If you’re crafty and don’t need health insurance through your employer, you can often make quite a bit more per hour by accepting a PRN role.

The caveat, of course, is that there is no guarantee of hours; PRN employers are notorious for calling therapists off at the last minute.

Negotiate your OT salary

Many of us have lost a lot of sleep over salary negotiations, but advocating for compensation that is commensurate with your value is essential to finding satisfaction in your OT career.

Why you should negotiate your OT salary:

  • You will be happier with a contract in which you helped to set the parameters.
  • You will quickly learn invaluable information about how the company treats its employees.
  • Your skillset is worth it!

It is especially important for women in our profession to recognize that they are often paid less than their male counterparts. This Facebook screenshot from a few years ago shows an example of a COTA who discovered this in her workplace and did something about it. Hopefully this is inspiring to you!

Here’s a little inspiration for the difference negotiation can make when it comes to salary.

How to negotiate your OT salary:

A good salary negotiation is grounded in research—meaning cold, hard numbers.

Gather as much information as you can about comparable positions. Unfortunately, many cities are saturated with OTs, and other locations simply don’t have that many OT jobs. You might be the best OT on earth, but you cannot earn more than what the market can support.

We recommend using the resources presented in this article to support your negotiations. Other factors to consider include years in practice, setting and patient population, and where you live.

Sometimes, a job simply won’t budge on salary. It can be frustrating, especially when you feel that you’re not being offered a salary commensurate with your value, and you might think that means you have to accept an offer that’s not ideal. Don’t despair—you can often negotiate in non-salary areas, including:

  • Unpaid leave for already scheduled trips
  • Mutually beneficial continuing education
  • The ideal schedule
  • AOTA and/or NBCOT membership
  • Loan repayment options
  • A formalized mentorship plan

We offer more negotiation advice on our Occupational Therapy Jobs Page.


We hope this article provided some clarity on what type of OT salaries are out there and what you can expect to earn based on your unique circumstances.

We do want to point out that salary is only one of the many factors you should consider if you’re pursuing an OT career. After all, at the end of the day, you need to decide if occupational therapy is work you will enjoy. We strongly encourage you to read our Guide to Occupational Therapy to get a full sense of our scope of practice.

If you are actively looking for work right now, I encourage you to check out our OT Jobs Page!

Finally, if you are here because you wanting to breathe new life into your OT career, then we hope you will consider joining us in the OT Potential Club.

Want to stay up to date on trends in OT? Join our newsletter!

12 replies on “Your Occupational Therapy Salary Guide (2024)”

Hi Cindy! I am working a stand-alone guide to COTA salaries, which is why no information on COTAs was included here! I will be sure to link to it in this comment thread when it goes live!

COTAs were not forgotten! I am actually working on a stand-alone COTA salary guide! I’m sorry it wasn’t ready at the same time! In retrospect, I should have released them together!

Sarah! This is such a comprehensive article. I can’t imagine the work you put into this. This is very helpful data, especially for new graduates who are trying to figure out how to negotiate a fair salary. I will be referring all my students to this article when they are interviewing for their first jobs. Thanks for all you do for our profession!

Thanks, Laura! That means a lot! It was driving me crazy how scattered all of the salary data was – and how it varied wildly! It feels much more coherent and manageable to have it one place like this!

Yes! I’m excited for it too! First, I’m going to launch my new COTA Job Hunting Guide then in the weeks after that will be the salary guide! Watch my mailing list for updates! (You can sign up via the chat box in the lower right!)

Yep, Nevada is at the top for OT salary. I worked in Las Vegas and was able to pay off my loans in 2 years working per diem. I worked with OTs who had been working for 20 years, and they were making less than the new OTs (PRN) doing the same job.

You don’t get the same benefits, but for a new grad, it was worth it for me.

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for providing such comprehensive information! This has been extremely helpful as a reference during my job search as a new grad.

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