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Occupational Therapy Assistants
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Description: what do they do?
Assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, direct activity programs, and document the progress of treatments. Generally requires formal training.
Also known as:
Occupational Therapist Assistant, Acute Care Occupational Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA), Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA), Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), School Based Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Licensed Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant/Licensed (COTA/L), Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant-Licensed (COTA-L), Staff Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant/Licensed (Staff COTA/L)

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center.

Career video
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    Transcript: People who struggle to feed themselves, get dressed, learn and work... depend on occupational therapy assistants and aides-to help them reach their goals. These professionals help patients gain skills and learn new ways to perform activities of daily living, whether at home, school, or work. Occupational therapy-or OT-assistants carry out treatment plans made by occupational therapists, treating patients from young children to older adults. They guide patients in the use of special equipment, and teach new ways to approach tasks such as moving from bed to a wheelchair. They document each step of patients' progress, and consult frequently with the OT. Occupational therapy aides keep treatment areas clean, equipped, and ready for the next patient. They assist patients in moving to and from treatment areas, schedule appointments, and help patients fill out billing and insurance forms. Most assistants and aides work in occupational therapists' offices, hospitals, and nursing care facilities. Both spend many hours a day on their feet, setting up equipment, bending, and lifting patients when necessary. Evening and weekend hours may be required. Occupational therapy assistants need an associate's degree from an accredited program, and, in most states, a license. Aides typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, and are trained on the job. Helping restore meaningful activity to the lives of their patients... provides a sense of purpose to OT aides and assistants.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
US
N/A
2014 Employment
N/A
2024 Employment
N/A
Percent change
N/A
Annual projected job openings
United States
33,000
2014 Employment
47,100
2024 Employment
43%
Percent change
2,360
Annual projected job openings
N/A: We do not have employment projections in this state for this occupation.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2014, the number expected to be employed in 2024, and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions including a 5.2 percent unemployment rate in 2024 and labor productivity growth of 1.8 percent annually over the 10 years. While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central: Long Term Projections, through 2024.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Employment Projections: 2014–24.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Occupational Therapy Assistants in United States
LocationUSUnited States
10%N/A$39,160
25%N/A$48,790
MedianN/A$59,010
75%N/A$70,550
90%N/A$80,090


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2016 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Associate's degree
  • No work experience
  • No on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Develop patient therapy programs.
  • Encourage patients during therapeutic activities.
  • Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
  • Teach basic living or other adaptive skills to patients or caregivers.
  • Record vital statistics or other health information.
  • Teach medical procedures or medical equipment use to patients.
  • Maintain medical records.
  • Assist patients with daily activities.
  • Implement therapeutic programs to improve patient functioning.
  • Confer with other professionals to plan patient care.
  • Administer screening tests to determine abilities or treatment needs.
  • Attend educational events to update medical knowledge.
  • Communicate patient status to other health practitioners.
  • Prepare medical reports or documents.
  • Teach medical procedures to healthcare personnel.
  • Perform clerical work in medical settings.
  • Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
  • Process medical billing information.
  • Clean medical equipment.
  • Maintain medical equipment or instruments.
  • Prepare medical instruments or equipment for use.
  • Inventory medical supplies or equipment.
  • Move patients to or from treatment areas.
  • Make patient-assistive devices or device models.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Service Orientation - Looking for ways to help people.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Social - Occupations with Social interests frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Most involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Select therapy activities to fit patients' needs and capabilities.
  • Monitor patients' performance in therapy activities, providing encouragement.
  • Instruct, or assist in instructing, patients and families in home programs, basic living skills, or the care and use of adaptive equipment.
  • Observe and record patients' progress, attitudes, and behavior and maintain this information in client records.
  • Maintain and promote a positive attitude toward clients and their treatment programs.
  • Aid patients in dressing and grooming themselves.
  • Implement, or assist occupational therapists with implementing, treatment plans designed to help clients function independently.
  • Communicate and collaborate with other healthcare professionals involved with the care of a patient.
  • Evaluate the daily living skills or capacities of physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabled clients.
  • Attend continuing education classes.
  • Report to supervisors, verbally or in writing, on patients' progress, attitudes, and behavior.
  • Alter treatment programs to obtain better results if treatment is not having the intended effect.
  • Work under the direction of occupational therapists to plan, implement, or administer educational, vocational, or recreational programs that restore or enhance performance in individuals with functional impairments.
  • Teach patients how to deal constructively with their emotions.
  • Demonstrate therapy techniques, such as manual or creative arts or games.
  • Perform clerical duties, such as scheduling appointments, collecting data, or documenting health insurance billings.
  • Assemble, clean, or maintain equipment or materials for patient use.
  • Attend care plan meetings to review patient progress and update care plans.
  • Order any needed educational or treatment supplies.
  • Transport patients to and from the occupational therapy work area.
  • Assist educational specialists or clinical psychologists in administering situational or diagnostic tests to measure client's abilities or progress.
  • Design, fabricate, or repair assistive devices or make adaptive changes to equipment or environments.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

Other resources

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.