According to Ginny Stoffel, president of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the role of occupational therapy professionals is to "help people overcome whatever barriers they have." This broad generalization encapsulates the large variety of tasks occupational therapists are called upon to perform in order to assist their patients. Some work with children with developmental issues; others work with the elderly to help them complete daily tasks for independent living.
The work environment can be as varied as a health care facility such as a hospital or rehabilitation facility to making home or school visits. In a hospital environment, the occupational therapy assistant may also direct the activities of occupational therapy aides or other front office staff.
The daily tasks of an occupational therapy assistant might include:
To get a job as an occupational therapy assistant, candidates must complete a two-year associate's degree program at a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. In addition to coursework in anatomy, physiology, biology, and psychology, candidates must complete a 16-week clinical requirement where they learn hands-on the physical requirements of the job. Once the educational requirements are completed, occupational therapy assistants must pass a certification exam. Many occupational therapy assistants use their education and experience on the job to advance into an occupational therapist program.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Market
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for occupational therapy assistants is growing at a much higher rate than other careers. Over the next decade, demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase by 41 percent, which is high even for the rapidly expanding health care job outlook in general.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Salary Information
The salary range for occupational therapy assistants is large, with the lowest paid occupational therapy assistants making just over $42,000 per year while the top 25 percent earn $64,000 or more annually. Occupational therapy assistants in home health jobs and skilled nursing facilities earn the most, with the top 10 percent earning $72,000 per year or more.