Occupational Therapy Technician Career Info

Mar 25, 2019

Explore what education and skills an occupational therapy technician needs. Learn about job responsibilities as well as employment outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for an Occupational Therapy Technician

Occupational therapy technicians work under the guidance of occupational therapists to provide patients with rehabilitative therapy to an improve patients' physical, mental, emotional or developmental impairments. Occupational therapy technicians work in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation clinics, hospitals and, sometimes, patients' homes. Their duties include helping to carry out an occupational therapist's treatment plan, teaching patients basic movement and mobility techniques, monitoring patients and providing instruction.

Education High school diploma, two-year program from community college or vocational school
Job Skills Communication, good physical shape, attention to detail, multitasking
Median Salary (2017)* $59,310 for occupational therapy assistants
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 29% for occupational therapy assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

To become an occupational therapy technician, you'll need your high school diploma and to complete an accredited program from a community college or vocational school. Programs typically last two years and may also require a number of hours of supervised fieldwork; coursework to prepare for a career in occupational therapy includes medical terminology, physiology, anatomy, physical disabilities, pediatrics and gerontology. Some states also require occupational therapy technicians to pass a licensing exam or meet other licensing requirements.

Skill Requirements

Occupational therapy technicians should communicate well both with their supervisors and patients; doing so is critical to ensure therapy plans are correctly followed and explained to patients. Being in good physical shape, paying careful attention to detail and being able to multitask will also serve you well in an occupational therapy career.

Employment and Economic Outlook

Employment for occupational therapy assistants, which includes occupational therapy technicians, is expected to grow 29% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Median annual earnings for occupational therapy assistants, including occupational therapy technicians, were $59,310 in 2017.

Alternative Careers

Check out these other options in therapy careers:

Occupational Therapist

For those wanting to be in charge of creating therapy treatment plans instead of just assisting, becoming an occupational therapist may be a good option. After meeting with the patient, occupational therapists decide what daily tasks need to be relearned or modified. With the help of therapy assistants, they design exercises and teach skills like eating, playing, moving around, cooking and adjusting to a disability in the workplace. Earning a master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy is necessary to work in the field, and licensure by examination is required in all states. The BLS projected a 24% increase in job opportunities for occupational therapists between 2016 and 2026, growth mostly attributed to an aging population. In May of 2017, the BLS estimated the median annual salary for these professionals to be $83,200.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Performing somewhat similar duties to that of an occupational therapy technician, a physical therapist assistant helps a physical therapist carry out treatments that include exercises, stretching, massage and mobility strengthening activities. They also enter notes of progress and observations into medical reports. To qualify for employment, physical therapist assistants usually need to complete a related associate degree program, and all states except Hawaii also require assistants to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. Job growth is expected to be strong in this field from 2016-2026, as predicted by the BLS, with over 27,000 new jobs created during this time. Physical therapist assistants earned a median income of $57,430, according to BLS figures from 2017.

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