Do you love to work with kids? Are you a patient, people-person who wants to make a difference in the lives of children who face unique challenges? Are you interested in a career that’s in demand and is fulfilling? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, a career in allied health care — inside or outside of a school system — could be a great fit for you.
As an occupational therapist, you’ll be responsible for helping children participate in those activities that make up daily life. As part of a team that’s designed to support the needs of students, an occupational therapist could help students meet their goals in reading, writing and other school activities. The social aspect of school is one that an occupational therapist can help a student become more at ease with. Assisting with self-care, sports participation and vocational skills also fall within the realm of being an occupational therapist for a child between the age of 3 and 21 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the demand for occupational therapists to increase by 27 percent in the next seven years.
In most states, speech-language pathologist typically must hold a master’s degree. Staying current on the latest advancements in the field, including those pertaining to technology and therapy, is also expected. During the course of your job duties, you’ll assess students and diagnose their disorders. You’ll also collaborate with other staff and prepare lessons designed to address the weaknesses of the students. According to the BLS, speech-language pathologists have a median pay of $74,680 a year with a project 21 percent increase in jobs by 2024.
While a career as a physical therapist is in demand outside of the school system, if you choose to work with students, you can expect to collaborate often with teachers and other professionals. After conducting an assessment of the skills that the student possesses, such as muscle strength, mobility and sensorimotor performance, you will set physical therapy goals. You also might advise on exercises and activities that the student can do at home. The BLS notes that typically you’ll need a professional or a doctoral degree to gain employment as a physical therapist. Licensure is also required by all 50 states. The median pay for physical therapists as of 2016 was $85,400.
As a school psychologist, you’ll work closely with students to diagnose and help treat learning disabilities, cognitive issues, emotional problems, mental disorders and more. There are several avenues of treatment that you can work with to do so including group, family and individual therapy. The BLS notes that the annual mean wage for an elementary and secondary school psychologist was $75,670. Most states require you to obtain a master’s degree in counseling or psychology with all states mandating school psychologists to be licensed and/or certified.
Becoming a teacher is not the only way to make a difference in the lives of school-aged children. These four careers can enable you to work closely with children on a daily basis.