What Are the Job Duties of a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to treat individuals suffering from physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. Read on for more information about becoming an occupational therapy assistant and the job duties you'll have. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Occupational therapy assistants operate under the supervision of occupational therapists to help patients with disabilities regain or learn basic skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). For instance, occupational therapy assistants may help a handicapped client learn to move from a wheelchair to a bed or assist a student with learning disabilities in completing prescribed mental exercises.

Occupational therapy assistants keep record of patients' progress and report back to the occupational therapist, noting any problems with the currently prescribed therapy. The occupational therapist uses this information to adjust the course of treatment if necessary. Some other tasks assigned to an occupational therapy assistant include the following:

  • Teaching patients to use specialized equipment
  • Providing encouragement to clients
  • Help patients with therapeutic exercise, such as stretching
  • Administrative tasks

Important Facts about this Occupation

Key Skills Compassion, attention to detail, flexibility, interpersonal communication, physical strength
Licensure Required in most states
Work Environment Spend long periods on feet; Often lift or move patients; May work weekends or evenings
Similar Occupations Occupational Therapist Aides, Medical Assistants, Pharmacy Technicians, Physical Therapist Assistants, Dental Assistants

Job Requirements

Occupational therapy assistants must typically complete an associate's degree program in the field, reports the BLS. In a training program, students learn basic medical terminology, as well as introductory healthcare topics such as anatomy and physiology. They also learn about human growth and development, pediatrics, and mental health. Associate's degree programs also typically include a 16-week fieldwork requirement, where students practice their skills under direct supervision in a clinic or a community setting. Practicing therapy assistants who have met the certification requirements of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCTOT) are considered certified occupational therapy assistants.

Salary Statistics and Employment Outlook

The BLS reported the median annual salary earned by occupational therapy assistants was $56,950 in May 2014. Assistants working for groups providing home health care services made the most money in 2014, per the BLS, averaging $67,180 a year. The employment outlook for this field of work is excellent, with the BLS predicting that jobs will increase for such assistants by 43% between 2014 and 2024, a rate significantly faster than the national average.

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