Occupational therapy assistants and aides essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $53,240
- 2011, number of jobs: 29,500
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 41 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Occupational therapy assistants and aides; what they do:
Occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides work with occupational therapists to make the lives of individuals with disabilities, injuries or illnesses easier and better. They find ways to make their clients’ lives more manageable. Occupational therapy assistants report a patient’s progress to an occupational therapist.
Occupational therapy assistants usually work directly with patients, providing therapy. An occupational therapy assistant teaches patients how to use special equipment and ensure patients use the equipment correctly.
Occupational therapy aides generally provide office support for occupational therapists, such as scheduling, filing, answering the phone, preparing therapy areas, assembling therapy equipment, helping clients with insurance forms, and billing patients.
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Occupational therapy assistants and aides job titles:
- Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)
- Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant-Licensed (COTA-L)
- Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA)
- School Based Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant
- Pediatric Occupational Therapist Assistant
- Certified Occupational Rehabilitation Aide (CORA)
- Occupational Therapy Aide (OT Aide)
- Occupational Therapy Technician (OT Technician)
- Rehabilitation Aide (Rehab Aide)
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Education, Certification and License Requirements
An occupational therapy assistant career may begin with an Associate of Occupational Therapy Assistant degree; community colleges and technical schools provide the degrees.
Occupational therapy aides generally have a high school diploma or equivalent and receive several months of on-the-job training working under supervision of experienced assistants or aides.
Occupational therapy assistants and aides programs cover subjects such as:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Developmental disabilities
- Human growth and development
- Physical rehabilitation theory and methods
- Occupational therapy management
In most states occupational therapy assistants need a license. Individuals seeking to acquire an occupational assistant license need to graduate from an accredited program and passing an exam. Some states also require continuing education courses.
Occupational therapy aides are not required to have a license.
An occupational therapy assistant who graduated from an accredited program can acquire occupational therapy assistant certification after passing an exam provided by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Certification is not required, but certification provides an advantage during the job seeking process and allows people with certification to use the title Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
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Career Advancement Opportunities
Occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides may chose to take continuing education to become occupational therapists.
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Job Outlook
Forecast: 43 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for occupational therapy assistants, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS forecasts a 33 percent employment growth for occupational therapy aides, much faster than the average for all occupations.
The increasingly larger senior citizen population increases the demand for occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides. The increasing number of people diagnosed with autism also increases the demand for occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides.
Occupational therapists hire assistants and aides so they can take on more clients and charge less overall, making their services even more attractive.
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $53,240
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $64,080
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $42,580
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Major Employers
- Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists
- Nursing care facilities
- State and private general medical and surgical hospitals
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Home health care services