Career Information for a Pediatric Occupational Therapy Technician
Also known as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant or aide, a pediatric occupational therapy technician works under the supervision of a pediatric occupational therapist to assist in the rehabilitation of injured or developmentally disabled children. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job duties include assisting patients with the activities and exercises prescribed by the occupational therapist, monitoring and recording patient progress, billing the patient's insurance carrier and some administrative tasks.
|Education||Certificate or associate degree required|
|License||Required in most states; licensing usually involves a board exam|
|Job Skills||Learning strategies, time management, critical thinking, reading comprehension|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$54,520 for all types of occupational therapy assistants and aides|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||40% for all types of occupational therapy assistants and aides|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A minimum of a 2-year degree or certificate from a community college or technical school is required for a career as an occupational therapy assistant. Classes during the first year usually include basic medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, psychology and health care. Second-year classes focus on occupational therapy topics. Four months of supervised fieldwork is generally required as part of the degree program.
According to the BLS, most states require occupational therapy assistants to become licensed. Licensure requires the completion of a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education and passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Exam, as well as completing continuing education to maintain licensure.
O*Net Online states that the skills required in occupational therapy include active listening, instructing, time management, social awareness, learning strategies, critical thinking, reading comprehension and monitoring. A pediatric occupational therapy technician should also enjoy working with children.
Career and Economic Outlook
The BLS indicates strong job growth for the occupational therapy industry, with jobs for aides and assistants increasing by 40% between 2014 and 2024. The increase in jobs is due to occupational therapists hiring more assistants and aides in order to cut costs. The BLS reported in May 2015 that occupational therapy assistants and aides made a median annual wage of $54,520.
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Listed below are some alternate options in therapy careers:
If creating the complete therapy plan for patients seems more interesting than just assisting the patients through the process, consider becoming an occupational therapist. In addition to evaluating patients and choosing what therapeutic techniques should be utilized, occupational therapists may also perform some hands-on duties like demonstrating how to use specialized equipment, encouraging progress and helping patients with exercise and stretching routines. To work in the field, a master's degree in occupational therapy is the minimum requirement and all states require licensure through examination. According to the BLS, employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow by 27% between 2014 and 2024, resulting in the creation of more than 30,000 new positions. The median salary for these therapists was $80,150 in 2015, as stated by the BLS.
Physical Therapist Assistant
For those who want to work with therapists to make the rehabilitation process more successful for patients, becoming a physical therapist assistant may be the right fit. Although some duties are similar to an occupational therapy technician, physical therapist assistants focus more on strengthening muscles and lessening pain than helping patients learn how to accomplish everyday tasks. They give massages, help patients use exercise equipment and therapy pools, apply electrical stimulation and write up progress reports for the supervising therapist. Working in this profession requires an associate degree in physical therapy, and with the exception of Hawaii, all states require prospective assistants to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam to acquire licensure. In May of 2015, the BLS estimated the median income of physical therapist assistants to be $55,170. Workers in this field should see job opportunities increase by 41% during the 2014-2024 decade, based on statistics from the BLS.