What Is an Occupational Therapist's Aide?

Occupation therapist's aides help occupational therapists who offer rehabilitative services. Read on to find out about typical duties, educational requirements, and job prospects in this field. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

As an occupational therapist's aide, you'll support occupational therapists by performing a range of routine and non-clinical tasks. Occupational therapists help patients with physical, developmental, mental, or emotional difficulties perform the activities of a specific occupation, increase their independence, and improve their quality of life.

As an occupational therapist's aide, you'll prepare treatment rooms, maintain equipment, and transport and observe patients. You may also be in charge of various clerical duties, such as answering phones, setting up appointments, and filling out paperwork. You will often work under the supervision of an occupational therapist's assistant who, due to additional education and licensure, is allowed to perform more complex tasks.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Job Outlook (2014-2024) 31% expected job growth (much faster than average)
Key Skills Compassion, attention to detail, flexibility, working with people, physical fitness
Work Environment Spend long periods on their feet; constantly kneel or stoop; may be required to lift patients; regular work on evenings and weekends
Similar Occupations Physical Therapy Aides, Medical Assistants, Registered Nurses, Pharmacy Technicians, Dental Assistants, Surgical Technologists

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Licensure

There are no formal postsecondary education requirements for occupational therapy aides. A high school diploma is often seen as sufficient education, and you'll usually receive extensive on-the-job training. However, there are some schools that offer short, non-degree college programs that can prepare you for work as a physical or occupational therapist aide. These programs may consist of three or four courses in anatomy, medical terminology, basic therapeutic treatments, patient interaction skills, or medical equipment. Unlike occupational therapy assistants, there are no licensure requirements to become an occupational therapist's aide.

Employment and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there were 8,800 people employed as occupational therapy aides as of May 2014. The majority of these professionals were employed in health practitioners' offices, general medical and surgical hospitals, and nursing care facilities.

As of May 2014, occupational therapy aides earned an average yearly salary of $29,040, reports the BLS. During this time, annual earnings differed by industry. For example, aides in the home health care services industry earned an annual average salary of $49,440, while aides in the vocational rehabilitation services industry made $30,030 on average per year.

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