What is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?
Occupational therapist assistants are responsible for assisting occupational therapists through performing daily duties, providing clerical assistance, and treating patients regularly as part of a regiment outlined by their supervisor. Occupational therapy are responsible for treating patients under duress through education, treatment, preventative care, and exercise therapy. Individuals work closely with their patients and must be familiar with the various machines and techniques used to assist them in recuperation and training. Individuals in this field are required to stand for excessive periods of time and must be able to maintain a pleasant and positive demeanor with clients and patients.
An individual pursuing a career as an occupational therapy assistant must first an associate degree or diploma which may be earned through a certified program offered at a community college or private career school. Such a program takes between one and two years to complete and provides the student with the education required to perform the duties of an assistant through courses such as physiology and anatomy which familiarize the student with the human body. Students will also be exposed to a cross section of sciences as well as a number of courses that educate the students on the use of equipment and implementation of therapies necessary in the field of occupational therapy.
Courses in occupational therapy assistance may include:
- General Anatomy
- Developmental Physiology
- Occupational Theory and Practice
- Assistive Technology and Adaptations
Occupational therapy assistants will work under a professional occupation therapist, administering care and treatment to patients suffering from any of a variety of ailments that may be attended to through occupational therapy. Such assistants typically educate patients in the various exercises to be performed or how to operate and utilize equipment that may assist in therapeutic treatment. Additionally, assistant will record patient histories and note progress made through treatment over time, particularly for patients that require more routine care.
Most states require occupational therapy assistants to pursue licensure prior to employment. Individuals pursuing licensure typically must complete an accredited program of study and pass a state issued examination. Additionally, maintaining licensure may require annual or biannual continuing education courses be taken. The process of licensure will vary by state. Certification is also available through the passing of an exam offered The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy allowing for use of the term “Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant” (COTA).
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth for occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase greatly over the next decade due primarily to the need for professionals in the field due to the aging population in the United States. Occupational therapy assistants earn approximately $51,000 per year. Individuals working in more populated areas are expected to earn more. Individuals interested in career advancement typically choose to at some point continue their education, pursuing a degree in occupational therapy.