Occupational Therapy Assistant: The Career Ahead


Occupational therapy assistants play an important role in the implementation of treatment programs provided by the occupational therapist. Occupational therapy aides or assistants provide a helping hand to the occupational therapist whenever needed. There are fewer requirements to become an occupational therapy assistant but this does not mean that the job is not valuable. Nonetheless, all occupational therapy assistants should get an associate degree in occupational therapy.

Today, with the growing demand for healthcare services, the expertise of an occupational therapist is more needed. An occupational therapist needs the assistance of an occupational therapy assistant to do his job efficiently and effectively every day. There will be specific duties assigned to an occupational therapy assistant and all tasks will be under the supervision of the occupational therapist.

The Duties Of An Occupational Therapy Assistant

 Duties Of An Occupational Therapy AssistantAn occupational therapist focuses on developing and giving therapy while an occupational therapy assistant does support activities. The support duties of an occupational therapy assistant includes helping patients do therapeutic activities like physical exercises and stretches and working with children that have learning and developmental disabilities. Occupational therapy assistants teach patients on how to use special equipment and devices. They also record the patient’s progress, perform administrative tasks in the office and report all information to the occupational therapist.

These healthcare workers perform the work that occupational therapists do not have to focus on particularly clerical tasks. Occupational therapy aides or assistants help with patient billing and insurance. They are the ones who prepare treatment areas and setting up the equipment needed for therapy. They help move patients from one treatment area to another. They answer phone calls, keep patient records and schedule appointments.

Becoming An Occupational Therapist Assistant

All assistants to an occupational therapist should complete an associate degree in occupational therapy. However, it will be a good idea to start taking extra high school courses on biology and health before you apply for college. Aside from getting extra courses, doing volunteer work will increase your chances of getting into community colleges. You can voluntarily work in a nursing care facility, physical therapist or occupational therapist office.

 Associate Degree In Occupational Therapy An associate degree in occupational therapy is offered in technical schools and community colleges. This will take two years of full-time study. The first year will focus on classroom lectures on subjects like pediatric health, psychology and biology. The last year will focus on hands-on work experience. You will need to complete hours of clinical work.

Apart from getting a degree and learning how to be an occupational therapist assistant, you should develop important qualities along the way too. Employers screen the personal qualities of applicants before hiring them. For one, you should have compassion. Occupational therapy assistants have to be compassionate with the patients they work with. Doing so will enable them to care more and encourage patients. Occupational therapy assistants should be detail-oriented. They must always follow instructions accurately and pay attention to details. Occupational therapy assistants should have physical strength. Since they will be assisting patients to perform exercises and helping patients move around, occupational therapy assistant should have a moderate degree of physical strength. Moreover, occupational therapy assistants should have great interpersonal skills. They should be able to interact and communicate with patients effectively.

After earning the degree and working on your personal qualities, it is time to get your license. Most states will require occupational therapy assistants to have a license before applying for work. It is a must that an occupational therapy assistant should graduate from an accredited degree program. Accreditation is given by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). There are states that will ask for extra requirements like continuing education to be able to renew or retain the license. To get the license, you should pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Once the occupational therapy assistant passes the exam, he or she can use the “Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)” title.

Online Occupational Therapy Degree Programs

Are you excited to become an occupational therapy assistant but worried about your current work and schedule? Online occupational therapy degree programs are the solution to your educational needs. You can take an associate, bachelors and master’s degree online. This method of education is ideal for people who cannot study full-time in school or those who do not have an occupational therapy school in their area.

The Career Ahead

Occupational Therapy Assistant JobsBack in 2010, there were 28,500 jobs for occupational therapy assistants. These occupational therapy assistants have the chance to work in different healthcare and non-healthcare facilities. 33% of them worked in the clinics of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and audiologists. 19% worked in nursing care facilities while 15% worked in hospitals. 7% worked in private and public schools. Occupational therapy assistants mostly work full-time. However, they can choose their work schedules. They can work during the day, evening and weekends. Schedules will depend on their employers.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there will be 43% employment growth in occupational therapy assistant occupations from 2010-2020. This growth is projected to grow much faster than the other occupations. This bright job outlook can be attributed to the increasing demand for healthcare needs due to the growing aging population. As more seniors grow fragile bodies, their daily activities are greatly affected. In addition, another reason for the demand is reducing the cost of occupational therapy services.

The median pay for occupational therapy assistants is $51,010 a year. The top 10% earned more than $70,790 while the lower 10% earned less than $33,110.The median annual salary for occupational therapy assistants working in home health care services is $54,950 and $54,460 in nursing care facilities. Those working in private clinics of speech, physical and occupational therapists earn $53,910 while those working in hospitals earn $46,620.

Being an occupational therapy assistant is fulfilling and it will be a great career start in the field of occupational therapy. Not only will you start earning money but you will gain important work experience that will prove to be valuable once you want to become an occupational therapist.


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