If a person suffers an illness or an accident that impairs her physical abilities she will see a variety of medical personnel, including occupational therapists who help patients recover their physical conditioning, their ability to perform everyday tasks and maximize their independence. The per diem pay rate – “per diem” is Latin for “each day” -- for occupational therapists working in America can be calculated using annual figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other analytic organizations.
To calculate a per diem pay rate from an annual salary, you divide the annual figure by 2080 – the number of hours in a typical 52-week, 40 hours per week year. This gives an hourly rate which you then multiply by 8 – the 40 hour week divided by 5 working days. Using this math, the mean per diem salary for an occupational therapist calculated from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures published as part of its May 2010 survey of national employment is $282. Those in the top 10 percent of earners received a mean of $394, while their counterparts in the bottom 10 percent earned a mean daily rate of $188.
Salary by Industry
The bureau’s figures also allow comparison of occupational therapist salaries across different sectors of the health-care industry. The largest number of practitioners worked within general medical and surgical hospitals, where the per diem wage worked out as $281, slightly less than the mean for individuals employed by speciality hospitals -- $290. Those working in home health care services were amongst the best-paid, a mean rate of $323, while those within nursing care facilities earned $250 a day.
Salary by Location
Wage comparison website SalaryExpert also published yearly pay figures for occupational therapists, analyzing how they varied between certain large metropolises. From its figures, Dallas and Charlotte have the highest per diem salaries for the profession -- $312 and $310, respectively. Los Angeles completed the top three most lucrative locations, at $309, while Orlando and Phoenix were amongst the lowest-paying cities, with average per diems of $240 and $229, respectively. The bureau’s figures put California and District of Columbia at the top of the list of most lucrative states for occupational therapists to work in, at $324 and $321, respectively, while Maine had a rate of just $241.
If Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions prove correct, employment opportunities for occupational therapists were expcted to increase by approximately 26 percent over the period from 2008 to 2018. This exceeded the growth rate estimated for the nation as a whole, which was put at between 7 and 13 percent over the same time. An aging population requiring more therapeutic services is the primary reason for this growth. As a result, wage levels for the occupation should remain very competitive.