Occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy aides and assistants, and speech-language pathologist assistants work under the direction of qualified therapists to assist patients. They are known as rehabilitation technicians. Certification is available for each specialization and licensure requirements vary, depending upon the state in which one would like to work.
Rehabilitation technicians assist qualified therapists in helping improve the quality of life for people recovering from addictions, physical impairments and mental trauma. Certification requirements vary by state, and some require state-specific licensing exams. National certification exams are available for specific applications, and some require an associate's degree.
|Required Education||Varies by state, associate's degree may be required|
|Exam Requirements||Varies by state. State-specific licenses are sometimes required, or national certifications can sometimes fulfill state requirements|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||39% (physical therapist aides)*|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$27,440 (physical therapist aides)*|
Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists are among the therapists who rehabilitation techs assist.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy assistants help clients redevelop damaged motor skills and adjust to life after injury. Assistants follow a treatment plan, document progress, teach therapeutic exercises and tailor daily activities to a patient's strengths.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Certification Requirements
Though state laws vary regarding certification requirements, the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) offers national certification, which fulfills certification demands for some states. Other states regulate state-specific licensing exams. Candidates for the NBCOT Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant exam must have graduated from a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Assistants who specialize in working with children may need additional training or certification to satisfy local requirements.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Under the supervision of a physical therapist, assistants provide mobility-promoting care to patients. Duties include massage, mechanical traction and instruction on balance techniques. Assistants take notes on treatment provided in order to inform the therapist.
Physical Therapy Assistant Certification Requirements
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require physical therapy assistants to earn an associate degree. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education accredits physical therapy degree programs, which require both classroom and practical experience. Recognition is available from the American Physical Therapy Association for assistants with additional training in specific subsets of physical therapy.
Most states require that applicants pass the National Physical Therapy Exam given by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy in addition to earning an associate degree. Some states also require that applicants pass a state exam prior to licensure.
Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant
Speech-language pathology professionals help patients overcome problems with swallowing, speech, fluency, language, cognitive-communication and voice. Speech-language pathologist assistants perform clerical duties, help assess patients and follow treatment plans prescribed by the supervising speech-language pathologist.
Speech Language Pathologist Assistant Certification Requirements
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), state requirements for speech-language pathologist assistants vary greatly. Due to the array of local requirements, ASHA suggests that students earn an associate degree from a speech-language pathologist assistant training program.
Additional requirements may apply to assistants working in schools. Specific information regarding state requirements for school workers is available from local licensing and education offices.
According to the BLS, physical therapist aides and assistants could expect a significant increase - 39% - in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. The mean annual salary for this group of professionals was $27,440 in May 2015, as reported by the BLS.
The educational requirements and certification options for rehabilitation technicians vary by specialized field. An associate's degree is commonly required, and some states require rehabilitation technicians to be licensed. It is important to check state guidelines when determining what steps to take to prepare to enter this field.