The field of occupational therapy has been exploding over the past decade, and it continues to grow and flourish year after year. With more jobs available and more workers entering the labor force, there is also a growing number of opportunities in different settings for occupational therapy assistants. Before embarking on a career of your own, take a look at some of the settings where OTAs may end up working and what that means for their career.
Many occupational therapists today work in the private offices of health care practitioners or clinics. These can range from an office run by a single OT, to a collaborative clinic with numerous different local occupational therapists working together under one roof and practice. Along the same lines, these private offices may be specialty clinics focused on just one type of client or disability, or they may be a general practice offering a full range of services, and working with all kinds of clients.
So, you might end up a local practitioner’s office who works exclusively with children. This might include children with developmental disabilities, for example, who need assistance with schooling, navigating social activities and learning social norms, learning how to use computers or anything else.
Working with kids will also be available in elementary and secondary schools, as well as pre-schools, specialty schools and private schools. OTAs have an ever-increasing presence here, as the need for improved schooling and attention for children with various disabilities becomes more well known. Funding has increased in these areas as well, providing more job opportunities to meet those needs.
On the other range of the age spectrum, many occupational therapist assistants will work in senior citizen communities or nursing homes. Seniors face not only declining physical abilities which lead to struggles in their lives and a lack of independence, but they may also be recovering from traumatic events like strokes or heart attacks which have left them suddenly disabled and in need of great assistance to get them back up to speed or to overcome their current condition. Seniors also often face declining mental and emotional capabilities, whether it’s due to Alzheimer’s or numerous other conditions, and may need OTA treatment along these lines.
General and surgical hospitals also employ occupational therapists and OTAs, and OTAs here may either work in acute care settings or in long term rehabilitation settings. In addition, home health care is a growing area of occupational therapy, and you may work on your own or with a company that provides in-home treatment and care for individuals with various disabilities or needs.
There are many different areas and places that an occupational therapy assistant may find work with. From general hospitals to home health care providers, from elementary schools to local clinics and practitioners and much more, it’s a huge range, and where you end up will have a large role in dictating what it is what you actually do in your career and on a day to day level, and what kinds of patients you work with.