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Occupational Therapist Aide Career Info

Mar 25, 2019

Learn about the support work an occupational therapist aide provides to occupational therapists. Explore what knowledge and skills are needed as well as employment outlook and salary facts to make an informed career decision.

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Career Definition for an Occupational Therapist Aide

Occupational therapist aides work as part of a team to help provide patients with treatment for physical, mental, emotional and developmental disabilities or impairments. Occupational therapist aides' duties include scheduling appointments, preparing materials for use during therapy, assembling equipment, restocking and reordering supplies, processing insurance paperwork and other duties as assigned. Occupational therapist aides usually are employed at inpatient and outpatient clinics, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

Education High school diploma required
Job Skills Basic math, knowledge of insurance forms, interpersonal skills, desire to help people
Median Salary (2017)* $29,200 for occupational therapy aides
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 25% for occupational therapy aides

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Occupational therapist aides must have a high school diploma. Typically, they will receive their training on-the-job. Because working as an occupational therapist aide does not require state licensure, there usually isn't any formal training or education required.

Required Skills

Occupational therapist aides should have strong interpersonal skills and a wish to assist people. Basic math skills, knowledge of insurance forms and overall general health will help you to succeed as an occupational therapist aide.

Career and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for occupational therapy is much better than average; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a growth of 25% for occupational therapist aides from 2016-2026. Median annual earnings for occupational therapist aides in 2017 were $29,200.

Alternative Careers

The following careers are other options in the occupational therapy field to consider:

Occupational Therapy Assistant

For those interested in performing more hands-on care for occupational therapy patients, becoming an occupational therapy assistant may be the right career move. These assistants receive treatment plans from the supervising therapist and help patients with stretching and exercise routines. They also show patients how to move around, eat, cook, perform work duties and adjust to living with a physical disability.

To work in the field, an associate degree in occupational therapy is required, as is licensure in most states. Licensing generally involves graduating from an accredited educational program, completing clinical training and receiving a passing score on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam.

As reported by the BLS in 2017, 41,650 occupational therapy assistants worked in the U.S.; in 2017, they received a median annual income of $59,310 in 2017. Very strong employment growth of 29% is projected by the BLS during the 2016-2026 decade, with 11,400 new jobs opening up for occupational therapy assistants.

Occupational Therapist

If assessing the needs of disabled patients and designing rehabilitation programs sounds intriguing, consider becoming an occupational therapist. After consulting with other physicians, occupational therapists evaluate a patient's health and come up with treatment protocols to reach physical goals. Activities that occupational therapists may demonstrate to patients include memory recall, play therapy, moving around with a wheelchair, eating techniques and modified workplace tasks.

A master's degree in occupational therapy is the minimum requirement to work in the profession, and many therapists choose to pursue a doctoral degree. All states require aspiring occupational therapists to complete 24 weeks of clinical experience and pass a related national exam to qualify for a license. According to the BLS, job opportunities for occupational therapists will increase by 24% from 2016-2026. These professionals earn a median salary of $83,200 per year, based on BLS estimates from 2017.

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