Occupational Therapy Assistants Career

occupational-therapist-assiOccupational Therapy Assisting is a growing medical field that is as important as it is diverse. Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) aid clients in performing specific therapeutic exercises to gain, recover, or improve physical skills required in daily life from chewing food and fastening a button to producing legible handwriting.

An OTA may provide many different types of therapy and may work in a variety of settings. They may seek to restore function to a patient’s entire body, or may specialize in rehabilitating a specific part of the body such as hands. They may work with the elderly, youths, or both. Occupational Therapy Assistants can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, hand therapy centers, doctors offices, and more.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Career Snapshot

The work environments of Occupational Therapy Assistants are varied, but may be physically demanding at times. OTAs may work full or part time and are likely to enjoy a greater than average ability to negotiate their work schedule and hours according to their personal preference.

Further details on a career as an occupational therapy assistant are listed below (statistics from the May 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average yearly salary for occupational therapy assistants.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have an Associate’s degree while 10% have a Master’s degree.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Education

Aspiring OTAs will need to obtain an Associates Degree and in most states must be licensed or certified to practice Occupational Therapy Assisting. Course work is intense and many schools require that students attend full time to complete the program. OTA degrees typically take two years to complete and require a clinical externship of 16 weeks or more before graduation. Externship students must pass a drug screen, skin test for Tuberculosis, a criminal background check, provide proof of health insurance and follow all other policies set forth by the employer.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Job Duties

OTAs aid clients in participating in specific rehabilitative exercises prescribed by an Occupational Therapist. Strong communication skills and a healthy dose of compassion are essential in this field. OTAs may walk, stand, kneel, squat, lift or stand for long periods during their shift.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Salaries

According to the BLS.gov, the average annual wage for Occupational Therapy Assistants in May 2015 was $54,520. OTAs in metropolitan areas, or with additional experience typically make more, bringing home over $78,080. Less experienced OTAs or those in poorer areas could make less than $38,440.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Job Outlook

The future of Occupational Therapy Assisting looks bright. OTAs’ unique skills will be needed to assist the aging Baby Boomer generation and rising numbers of children with disabilities such as Autism. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a much faster than average 43% growth rate in this field from 2014 to 2024.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Skills & Traits

Occupational Therapy Assistant Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Occupational Therapy Assistants:Typical Work Activities:
• Active Listening
• Speaking
• Reading Comprehension
• Social Perceptiveness
• Time Management
• Oral Expression
• Oral Comprehension
• Problem Sensitivity
• Written Comprehension
• Written Expression
• Arm orthopedic softgoods
• Gait belts
• Headpointers
• Leather accessories
• Writing aids
• Caring for others
• Getting information
• Recording information
• Communicating with others
• Performing physical activities

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