Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to help their clients develop and recover activities of daily living, like getting dressed and driving, and working.
Occupational therapy assistants can choose from a number of opportunities. Some choose to work with children, helping them with typical childhood activities, including learning, playing, and growing. Others work with students who have learning disabilities, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or other disabilities.
Occupational therapy assistants also work with adults in their homes, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, community centers and other facilities. They help people deal with and recover from traumatic injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or mental health problems, helping them relearn activities of daily living or learning occupations.
Occupational therapy assistants carry out activities and exercises with clients based on a treatment plan developed in collaboration with an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy assistants monitor an individual’s activities to make sure they are performed correctly and to provide encouragement. They also record their client’s progress for use by the occupational therapist. If the treatment is not having the intended effect, or the client is not improving as expected, the occupational therapist may alter the treatment program in hopes of obtaining better results. Occupational therapy assistants also document billing of the client’s health insurance provider.
Occupational therapy assistants work primarily in occupational therapists’ offices, hospitals and nursing care facilities. Occupational therapy assistants spend much of their time on their feet setting up equipment and working with patients.
Occupational therapy assistants have variable work schedules that may include evening and weekend hours, depending on the facility and whether they are full or part-time employees. Many outpatient therapy offices and health care facilities have evening and weekend hours, to help coincide with patients’ personal schedules.
Salary Range and Outlook
The employment outlook for this career is good, projected to grow 41% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for other occupations.
You must complete an associate’s degree from an accredited college or technical school to qualify for occupational therapy assistant jobs. In most states, you will also be required to take and pass a licensing exam.
Learn More About a Career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Meet an occupational therapy assistant and find out about what she does
- Watch a video about occupational therapy assistants (in the Health Science category)