Occupational Therapy Blog
Occupational Therapy Career Paths for DrOT Graduates


Occupational therapist assisting elderly woman

Occupational therapy is a field replete with possibilities, a profession where the combination of science, creativity, and compassion can lead to real change in people’s lives. For those who are committed to the field, a Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (DrOT) can prepare students with the skills to open doors to an array of career paths that transcend traditional practice and service delivery.

Here's a glimpse into the multifaceted opportunities that await DrOT graduates.


OT practitioners with doctorates are able to establish their own private practices, working independently and offering specialized services to a specific set of clientele, such as assisting children with developmental disorders, supporting older adults who aim to age in place, or helping individuals with chronic conditions manage their daily activities. Working in private practice, OTs aren’t simply treating patients but also creating specialized programs that cater to specific population groups’ needs. They also have more flexibility and decision-making power in how they run their practice, as the business owner.

DrOT graduates don’t have to lead their own practice to pursue advanced clinical roles, however. Doctorate-level OTs can become leading experts in specialized areas of occupational therapy in community-based or clinical settings. From pediatrics to geriatrics, and from neurorehabilitation to mental health, these professionals use their heightened skills to provide exceptional patient care. Moreover, they contribute to the development of innovative therapeutic methods and evidence-based practices, ensuring that the occupational therapy profession remains on the cutting edge of healthcare.

Example Job Titles for Private and Specialized Practice Roles:

  • Neurorehabilitation Specialist
  • Private Practice Owner
  • Independent Occupational Therapy PractitionerPediatric Occupational Therapist
  • Gerontological Occupational Therapist
  • Hand Therapist

Bradley University Online DrOT Private and Specialized Practice Courses:

  • OTD 833 Advanced Practice Trends in OT: Prepares graduates to identify and adapt to emerging healthcare trends and practice areas, enabling them to excel in specialized clinical roles.
  • OTD 801 Professional Engagement in OT: Aids in refining personal and career goals, important for those seeking to establish private practices or offer consultancy services.


Advanced credentials enable occupational therapists to transition from being a member of an OT team to leading one. As directors or managers of occupational therapy departments, DrOT graduates can strategically guide service delivery, oversee patient care and set best practices, and ensure that their departments run smoothly and efficiently. The insights of a DrOT graduate are crucial to shaping the future of OT services, both within individual facilities and at a broader systemic level.

Example Job Titles for OT Leadership Roles:

  • Director of Occupational Therapy Services
  • Private Practice Owner
  • Occupational Therapy Program Manager
  • Director of Rehabilitation Services
  • Compliance Auditor
  • Quality Assurance Specialist

Bradley University Online DrOT Management and Leadership Courses:

  • OTD 841 Management Strategies in OT: Equips graduates with leadership and management strategies essential for leading OT departments and programs.
  • OTD 843 Evidence-based Project Discovery and Design: Fosters the ability to create impactful projects, which is critical for healthcare leaders.


Equipped with their doctoral degree, many OT professionals are drawn to the academic sphere, where they educate the next generation of occupational therapists and pursue research interests. DrOT graduates can become faculty members at universities, engaging in teaching and mentoring while also conducting research that furthers the field's knowledge base. Their work not just shapes future practitioners but also contributes to occupational therapy's body of scholarly literature.

In research, DrOT graduates occupy vital roles, often leading studies that address pressing questions within the occupational therapy field. A DrOT might explore how virtual reality technology can aid in stroke rehabilitation or look into the socio-economic factors affecting access to occupational therapy services. By designing and executing research projects, they contribute to the empirical evidence base that underpins the profession, potentially shifting paradigms and influencing clinical approaches.

Example Job Titles for OTs in Academia:

  • Professor of Occupational Therapy
  • Research Scientist
  • Director of Occupational Therapy Research

Bradley University Online Pedagogic and Research-Based DrOT courses:

  • OTD 823 Educational Principles in OT: Provides deep insights into various educational pedagogies and curriculum development, preparing students for educational roles within OT and beyond.
  • OTD 813 Research Methodology- Qualitative Methods & OTD 811 Research Methodology- Quantitative Methods: Both courses provide a robust foundation in research methods to prepare graduates for academic and scholarly research.
  • OTD 843 Evidence-based Project Discovery and Design: Enables the design of in-depth research projects.


Significant policy changes, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), have dramatically shaped the field of occupational therapy, expanding the scope and reach of services. DrOT graduates have an opportunity to forge the next wave of policies by participating in policy research, debates, and lobbying efforts. Their expertise is particularly valuable when new laws or amendments are on the table—ensuring that the unique perspective of occupational therapy practitioners is considered in health care and education systems. DrOT graduates could collaborate with lawmakers and lobbyists, serve on professional boards, and participate in think tanks that influence healthcare regulations. They could also lead nonprofit disability advocacy groups or community services. OTs can harness their expertise to expand access to care, develop programs for underserved populations, or helm initiatives that align with their passion for occupational therapy.

Example Job Titles for OTs in Policy Development and Nonprofit Leadership:

  • Occupational Therapy Policy Advisor
  • Health Services Research Analyst
  • Director of Professional Affairs for an OT association
  • Nonprofit Executive Director

Bradley University Online DrOT Policy and Advocacy Courses:

  • OTD 821 Practice and Research Ethics: Provides an opportunity for students to learn about the legal and ethical implications of the field of OT.
  • OTD 831 OT Professional Advocacy: Teaches effective advocacy skills, empowering graduates to influence health services and policies.


Graduates might also join the ranks of businesses that focus on health or serve as wellness consultants for the corporate world.As OT consultants, graduates could advise organizations on occupational therapy-related issues or bring the benefits of OT into alternative settings. These can range from ergonomic assessments in the workplace or helping businesses design workplaces that foster employee well-being, to aiding rehab facilities in developing and implementing cutting-edge therapeutic protocols.

Bradley University Online DrOT Consulting Courses:

  • OTD 841 Management Strategies in OT: Provides insights into program development, business planning, and management skills relevant in both corporate and nonprofit settings.

Example Job Titles for OTs in Corporate Consulting Roles:

  • Occupational Therapy Consultant
  • Wellness Coach
  • Corporate Health Consultant


An entrepreneurial path for DrOT graduates involves the innovation and creation of therapeutic devices, assistive technologies, or software that enhances patient care. With a solid foundation in the principles of occupational therapy and an understanding of patient needs, they are uniquely equipped to design solutions that can dramatically improve quality of life.

OT professionals have been instrumental in the development of a diverse range of products that enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. For instance, adaptive utensils for those with motor impairments and sophisticated wheelchairs designed for improved maneuverability have been avenues of innovation. DrOT graduates might develop apps that assist with cognitive rehabilitation or invent devices that support patients with unique needs. Through such innovations, they deliver their therapeutic ethos into everyday objects, extending care beyond the clinic's walls.

Example Job Titles for DrOT Innovation and Product Development Roles:

  • Assistive Technology Designer
  • Rehabilitation Technology Developer
  • Ergonomic Consultant

Bradley University Online DrOT Product Development Courses:

  • OTD 843 Evidence-based Project Discovery and Design & OTD 845 Evidence-based Project Implementation: These courses are ideal for students interested in developing innovative products or services as they go through the process of designing and implementing evidence-based projects on a topic of their choice.


For those interested in finding new career opportunities or making a bigger impact within the field of OT, a doctorate is crucial. Beyond the skills you’ll gain in advanced practice and theory, Bradley’s online DrOT can equip students with leadership and management strategies, and help them understand their ability to influence the health and well-being of society as a whole. The degree is not just a milestone—it's a commitment to a profession that has the power to make a difference.

Bradley University’s Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy online program prepares students for diverse career paths with a curriculum that emphasizes leadership, advanced practice, advocacy and scholarly inquiry. Each course builds upon the previous one to provide students with a robust set of skills and comprehensive understanding of the field of OT.

Contact an Admission Advisor to learn more about how you can steer your career into new and exciting directions with a DrOT degree.


Fall 2024

Final Application Date
July 20, 2024
Fall 2024
Start Date
August 21, 2024
Fall 2024

Spring 2025

Final Application Deadline
November 15, 2024
Spring 2025
Start Date
January 22, 2025
Spring 2025

Summer 2025

Final Application Deadline
April 15, 2025
Summer 2025
Start Date
May 21, 2025
Summer 2025

Bradley University has engaged Everspring, a leading provider of education and technology services, to support select aspects of program delivery.