Your Path to Becoming a Occupational Therapy Assistant

Required Courses
  • Introduction to Healthcare
  • Medical Technology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Mental Health
  • Gerontology and Pediatrics
  • Adult Physical Disabilities

As an occupational therapist assistant (or occupational therapy assistant) you will help to provide medical rehabilitation services to mental or physically disabled patients. Under the guidance of fully certified occupational therapists they work in all types of health care facilities like hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or psychiatric wards. Assistants aid in rehabilitative exercises for patients to in order to eventually help them function properly by themselves. They may help one dress themselves, feed themselves, or coach them to perform basic motor skills and walking on their own.

Occupational therapy assistants can take on other responsibilities with their rehabilitation work depending on their particular place of business. Some duties may include ordering office supplies, cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment, writing up progress reports to chart a patient's healing process, or basic clerical office duties.

Step 1 Education

In order to become certified to perform these tasks, occupational therapy assistants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Their training in this profession can take place in universities or smaller schools such as community colleges or vocational schools that are accredited by Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). On average the programs will last 2 to 3 years, ending with the graduate earning an associate's degree in occupational therapy medicine. During this time they can expect to study:

Upon graduating with an associate's degree, one must earn their official licensing in order to legally practice in a healthcare facility. Depending on which state you will work in, you will need to contact the State Licensing Board to find out which requirements you must meet.

Many students, in an effort to gain more hands-on experience, will seek out volunteer work or internships during their studies. These efforts can look very good on resumes as well.

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Step 2 Job Search

The medical industry is one of the largest and most lucrative in the nation. Employment is expected to increase by more than 20% in the next ten years with room for advancement and income growth. Due to medicinal technologies allowing for longer lifespan, there are larger populations of elderly patients who require assistance. It will also allow for trauma victims to survive, increasing the need for physical therapy assistants.

Step 3 Career

Occupational Therapy Assistants typically earn around $38,430 a year. Those who have more experience and pursue more certifications in medicinal therapy practices stand to earn much more. Some will go on to take up positions as medical assistants or office assistants. Those who choose to pursue further training can expect to be promoted to fully registered occupational therapists or supervisors by passing state issued examinations. Specialized workers such as home health care workers or private physician office assistants can stand to earn up to $20,000 more.

Typically occupational therapy assistants will work regular 40 hour work weeks although there is great possibility they will be broken into shifts that include night and weekend slots.