How To Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants help patients improve and develop the skills needed for daily living. They work directly with patients, providing them with therapy. They work under the direction of an occupational therapist. They use activities and different kinds of equipment in their work.

In order to become an occupational therapy assistant, you need an associate’s degree from an occupational therapy assistant program.

Why Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants help carry out a wide range of responsibilities within the office of an occupational therapist. They work under the supervision of an occupational therapist. They see many patients on a daily basis. They help patients do activities, such as stretching and other exercises. These activities help them with their treatment program to help them get back on a path towards daily living. They lead children through play activities.

Occupational therapy assistants use specialized equipment in their activities with patients. They help encourage patients to complete tasks. They record a patient’s progress and report it to an occupational therapist. They may also be in charge of other administrative responsibilities.

This is a good job for somebody who enjoys taking care of others and seeing their progress, somebody who wants to work directly with people who have disabilities or need specialized care, and who have compassion for others.

Occupational Therapy Assistants should possess the following qualities and skills:

Occupational Therapy Assistant Work Environment

Occupational therapy assistants work in a variety of environments. Most work in the private offices of occupational therapists. Others may work in nursing homes or hospitals. They spend their days working directly with patients. Occupational therapy assistants spend time setting up specialty equipment that is used in occupational therapy, so this job requires some heavy lifting.

They spend much of their day on their feet, providing therapy to patients. Occupational therapy assistants see multiple people in one day. This job is an active one, where kneeling, bending, and lifting are all part of job expectations.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary

The median annual wage for occupational therapy assistants was $60,000 in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries for any profession can vary widely depending on a number of factors. One of these is the industry in which a person works. Occupational therapy assistants that worked in nursing homes earned $66,000 as a median salary in 2017.

On the other hand, those who worked in hospitals earned $54,000 in 2017. It is important to keep in mind what type of industry you want to work in when considering salary. Additional education and experience may earn you increased salary.

Average Occupational Therapy Assistant Annual Salary


The average annual salary for occupational therapy assistants is $59,470 a year. Salaries start at $39,020 a year and go up to $80,320 a year.

Average Occupational Therapy Assistant Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a occupational therapy assistant is $28.59. Hourly wages are between $18.76 and $38.62 an hour.

Stats were based out of 41,650 employed occupational therapy assistants in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Occupational Therapy Assistants

Top Paying Cities For Occupational Therapy Assistants

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Occupational Therapy Assistant Career Outlook

Employment for occupational therapy assistants is projected to grow by 29 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than other occupations within the United States. This will account for about 12,000 new jobs being created within this 10 year time period. Occupational therapy is an increasing field.

The growing elderly population will continue to seek out care for chronic conditions. The healthcare system, as it continues to grow, will need occupational therapy assistants to help with some of the tasks related to this profession. Occupational therapy assistants will work in conjunction with the rest of the team to treat older adults, young adults and children and to be sure everybody receives great treatment.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

Occupational therapy assistants need an associate’s degree in order to pursue this career. An associate’s degree can be obtained from a local community college, a vocational school, or an online program. There are currently more than 200 occupational therapy assistant programs in the United States. During these programs, students take coursework such as biology, psychology, and health care.

In addition to coursework, students are required to perform 16 weeks of clinical fieldwork experience in an occupational therapy setting. During this time they will work under the supervision of an occupational therapist, working directly with patients. It takes two years to complete this program.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Coursework

Below we have listed some of the classes you can expect to take during a typical occupational therapy assistant program.

Anatomy and Physiology: In this course students learn all about human body structure and function. Students acquire core knowledge of the components of each bodily system and how they work together. Topics include cell structure and functions of all major systems of the human body. The connections and relationships among these systems are studied. Emphasis on the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems is paid attention to. Laboratory work is also part of the class.

Medical Terminology: This class is important for anybody working in the healthcare field. Students will learn essential terminology related to the parts of the body, various diseases and ailments, equipment used, and other terms that are frequently used in the medical field.

In this course, students explore the systems of the human body, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive, nervous systems and more. They learn how they relate to each other. They learn the most common diseases and disorders affecting these systems of the body. The treatments for these diseases and disorders are discussed.

Introduction to Psychology: In this course, students learn the fundamental principles of psychology and the major subjects of psychological inquiry. Students will learn major areas of psychology research and be provided with tools necessary for the study of psychology.

Students will learn how psychology developed as an academic discipline. The course is based around areas of research such as human emotion, human development, memory, and psychopathology.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Career Path

An occupational therapy assistant helps an occupational therapist with the daily tasks in an office. This is a great way to decide if a career as an occupational therapist is right for you. A natural advancement would be to become an occupational therapist.

Career Overview Responsibilities Education Required Benefits
Occupational Therapist This job involves treating injured, ill and disabled patients, helping them to recover and maintain skills for everyday living. Their responsibilities include developing a treatment plan for patients, working directly with patients, and overseeing the occupational therapy practice. A master’s degree is required for somebody in this position. If you have been working as an occupational therapy assistant, this is a great way to advance up the career ladder into a larger role with more responsibilities.

Related Occupational Therapy Assistant Careers

If you are considering becoming an occupational therapy assistant, there are many other types of careers that may interest you as well. Below we have listed some related careers. Keep in mind these are just a few of the careers out there similar to this one.

Medical Assistant: A medical assistant carries out both administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians and hospitals. They may take blood pressure, weight, height, other vital signs, and check over medical history. They may also be responsible for answering phones, making appointments, and medical billing.

Pharmacy Technician: A pharmacy technician works in a pharmacy, assisting with filling prescriptions, handling orders, labeling and packaging, answering phones and more.

Psychiatric Technician: A psychiatric technician takes care for people who have mental illnesses and provides a safe environment for them.

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