Career Choice: Vision Rehabilitation Therapists

Career Choice: Vision Rehabilitation Therapists
  • Type: Career Type
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    Individuals with sight problems face many challenges with even the simplest daily tasks difficult to accomplish.

    Aiding them in this endeavor are vision rehabilitation therapists, individuals who train patients to manage their homes, communicate, and use a computer.

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They’re also known as low vision therapists or orientation and mobility specialists, a type of occupational therapist that are in much demand to help an aging population.

Duties

Vision rehabilitation specialists assess the individual client’s functioning abilities including their vision, mobility, and orientation, as well as for emotional, physical and cognitive issues, in a bid to help them reach their goals. They provide specific training to enable their clients to travel independently, by demonstrating cane skills or working with guide dogs, human guides and electronic and mobility devices.

These professionals write reports, complete forms, manage progress, and follow-up with their clients. They also liaise with other professionals including speech pathologists, rehabilitation counselors, and other specialists. They develop plans with their clients to help them meet their needs and goals.

Education

Approximately three-quarters of all vision rehabilitation specialists have a master’s degree; the rest have a bachelor’s degree. For those that complete a master’s degree, certification is through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

Master’s level coursework may vary, but will include classes such as rehabilitation teaching, vocational rehabilitation, braille literacy, assistive technology, and counseling. Students will be expected to take and complete related internships.

Salaries

The average salary of a vision rehabilitation therapist was $75,400, as of 2012 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Therapists in the 10th percentile earned $50,500 per year on average. Those in the 25th percentile made $62,500 per year according to the BLS. For therapists in the 75th percentile, the average pay was $90,300 per year. Top pay of $107,100, was earned by therapists in the 90th percentile.

Pay across the country varied from state to state. Nevada, at $97,400 per year, had the highest average pay for vision rehabilitation therapists. California at $87,500 and New Jersey at $86,700 followed. At the bottom of the state pay spectrum was North Dakota at $56,100, followed by South Dakota at $61,300 and Oklahoma at $64,200.

Job Outlook

The BLS is forecasting strong demand for vision rehabilitation therapists through 2020. A 29 percent increase in jobs is expected, roughly double the rate for all jobs.

According to the BLS, “Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb.” Vision therapists are counted under the broad occupational therapist umbrella, professionals with skills specific to aiding people with vision problems.

References

O*Net Online: Summary Report for:
29-1122.01 – Low Vision Therapists, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Occupational Therapists


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