National Avg. Salary$58,340 More Salary Data →
Job Growth Rate42.7% More Growth Data →
Recommended DegreeAssociate's Programs & Degrees →
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Occupational therapy assistants work under the supervision of occupational therapists. They work with patients who’ve suffered from motor or cognitive disabilities as the result of an accident or injury. They help patients recover lost motor function, and they teach them to use assistance equipment.
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The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in occupational therapy assistant roles:
- Work with an occupational therapist to develop a plan of treatment for patients
- Encourage patients to perform movements and exercises that may help them recover from lost motor function
- Teach patients how to use equipment that’s designed to help them fulfill day-to-day tasks
- Document patient progress, and report on progress to occupational therapists and other physicians
- Collect documentation needed for submitting health insurance claims for services
A Day in the Life
When individuals suffer from cognitive or motor loss due to an accident, injury, illness, or disease, they are often sent to an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist—depending on the patient’s condition—performs a variety of tasks designed to help the patient overcome the loss of function. Occupational therapy assistants help occupational therapists with these responsibilities, working with therapists to document treatment plans, and assisting with patient education and recovery exercises.
In some cases, the loss of motor function may be able to be resolved. When this happens, the occupational therapy assistant works with the patient several times a week on exercising the injured area in a way that may promote healing. They also teach patients how to perform exercises on their own time to expedite recovery. Often, the exercises are very difficult for the patient to perform, and they may be depressed because of the injury. The occupational therapy assistant encourages the patient and provides him/her with advice and guidance to overcome feelings of depression and inadequacy.
When loss of function is not able to be healed, the occupational therapy assistant may recommend equipment and devices designed to assist with tasks. For example, he/she may teach a patient who has lost the ability to speak to use a speaking device, may teach a patient with vision loss how to read braille, or may teach a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use tools that help them eat. These devices all help the patient live a life as close to normal as possible even after a debilitating incident.
Typical Work Schedule
Most occupational therapy assistant roles are full-time. While some may work during normal office hours, many are required to work evenings and weekends to be available at times when patients can come in for visits.
Projected Job Growth
Demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow significantly in coming years as a result of the large, aging Baby Boomer population. Additionally, because of the high cost of services for occupational therapy, individuals in assistant roles can help reduce costs for both the provider and patient by not requiring the occupational therapist to conduct all therapy activities.
Most occupational therapy assistants are employed by private occupational therapy offices. However, some also work for hospitals, nursing homes, and home healthcare services.
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Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary Data
We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.
National Annual Salary
National Hourly Wage
How do Occupational Therapy Assistant salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Occupational Therapy Assistant's can make an average annual salary of $58,340, or $28 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $47,800 or $23 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.
Salary Rankings And Facts
#293 Nationally for All Careers
Above Average Salary Nationally
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How To Become
The starting point for becoming an occupational therapy assistant is earning an associate’s degree from an occupational therapy assistant program. These programs usually last two years and teach students the basics of occupational therapy practices and techniques, as well as general biology and physiology. Additionally, the programs also typically include a residency component where students spend four months following experienced occupational therapists and assistants to earn hands-on experience.
In addition to earning an associate’s degree, most states require occupational therapy assistants to be licensed in order to practice in the state. Becoming licensed usually requires completing an associate’s degree, earning professional work experience through an in-school residency, and passing an exam administered through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Additionally, continuing education is also commonly required to maintain licensure.
To earn professional experience before completing an associate’s degree program, aspiring occupational therapy assistants may choose to work as occupational therapy aides. No formal postsecondary degree or state license is required to work in an aide position as it’s more of a support role. However, your experience as an aide can help you get a head start on learning the job and earning experience that may help you find a job more quickly after graduation.
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Recommended Min. Degree
Programs and Degrees
Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant. an Associate's is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.
Highest Education Among Occupational Therapy Assistant
- 0% Doctorate
- 0.3% Masters
- 11.1% Bachelors
- 76.2% Associates
- 9.4% College
- 2.1% High School
- 0.8% Less than High School
Job Growth Projections and Forecast
2014 Total Jobs33,000
2024 Est. Jobs47,100
Job Growth Rate42.7%
Est. New Jobs14,100
How does Occupational Therapy Assistant job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 14,100 jobs for a total of 47,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 42.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.
Growth Rankings And Facts
#2 Nationally for All Careers
Above Avg. Growth Nationally