Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides ( jobs near me programs aide)

What Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Do



Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

Duties

Occupational therapy assistants typically do the following:
  • Help patients do therapeutic activities, such as stretches and other exercises
  • Lead children who have developmental disabilities in play activities that promote coordination and socialization
  • Encourage patients to complete activities and tasks
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment—for example, showing a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use devices that make eating easier
  • Record patients’ progress, report to occupational therapists, and do other administrative tasks
Occupational therapy aides typically do the following:
  • Prepare treatment areas, such as setting up therapy equipment
  • Transport patients
  • Clean treatment areas and equipment
  • Help patients with billing and insurance forms
  • Perform clerical tasks, including scheduling appointments and answering telephones

Occupational therapy assistants collaborate with occupational therapists to develop and carry out a treatment plan for each patient. Plans include diverse activities such as teaching the proper way for patients to move from a bed into a wheelchair and advising patients on the best way to stretch their muscles. For example, an occupational therapy assistant might work with injured workers to help them get back into the workforce by teaching them how to work around lost motor skills. Occupational therapy assistants also may work with people who have learning disabilities, teaching them skills that allow them to be more independent.


Work Environment



Occupational therapy assistants and aides work primarily in occupational therapists’ offices, in hospitals, and in nursing care facilities. Occupational therapy assistants and aides spend much of their time on their feet while setting up equipment and, in the case of assistants, providing therapy to patients.

Occupational therapy aides held about 7,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of occupational therapy aides were as follows:

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists   38%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 27%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 11%
Social assistance 5%
Educational services; state, local, and private 4%
Occupational therapy assistants held about 39,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of occupational therapy assistants were as follows:

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists   42%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 19%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 17%
Home healthcare services 6%
Educational services; state, local, and private 5%


Occupational therapy assistants and aides spend much of their time on their feet while setting up equipment and, in the case of assistants, providing therapy to patients. Constant kneeling and stooping are part of the job, as is the occasional need to lift patients.

How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Aide


Occupational therapy assistants need an associate’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program. All states regulate the practice of occupational therapy assistants. Occupational therapy aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive training on the job.

Education and Training

Occupational therapy assistants typically need an associate’s degree from an accredited program. Occupational therapy assistant programs are commonly found in community colleges and technical schools. In 2017, there were more than 200 occupational therapy assistant programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, a part of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
These programs generally require 2 years of full-time study and include instruction in subjects such as psychology, biology, and pediatric health. In addition to taking coursework, occupational therapy assistants must complete at least 16 weeks of fieldwork to gain hands-on work experience.
People interested in becoming an occupational therapy assistant should take high school courses in biology and health education. They also can increase their chances of getting into a community college or technical school program by doing volunteer work in a healthcare setting, such as a nursing care facility, an occupational therapist’s office, or a physical therapist’s office.
Occupational therapy aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. They are trained on the job under the supervision of more experienced assistants or aides. Training can last from several days to a few weeks and covers a number of topics, including the setting up of therapy equipment and infection control procedures, among others. Previous work experience in healthcare may be helpful in getting a job.
Both occupational therapy assistants and aides often need certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support (BLS).

Important Qualities

Adaptability. Assistants must be flexible when treating patients. Because not every type of therapy will work for each patient, assistants may need to be creative when working with occupational therapists to determine the best therapy to achieve a patient’s goals.
Compassion. Occupational therapy assistants and aides frequently work with patients who struggle with many of life’s basic activities. As a result, they should be compassionate and have the ability to encourage others.
Detail oriented. Occupational therapy assistants and aides must quickly and accurately follow the instructions, both written and spoken, of an occupational therapist. In addition, aides must pay attention to detail when performing clerical tasks, such as helping a patient fill out an insurance form.
Interpersonal skills. Occupational therapy assistants and aides spend much of their time interacting with patients and therefore should be friendly and courteous. They also should communicate clearly with patients and with patients’ families to the extent of their training.

Physical strength. Assistants and aides need to have a moderate degree of strength because of the physical exertion required to assist patients. Constant kneeling, stooping, and standing for long periods also are part of the job.

Pay


The median annual wage for occupational therapy aides was $28,660 in May 2019.

The median annual wage for occupational therapy assistants was $60,820 in May 2019.

The median annual wage for occupational therapy aides was $28,660 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $58,660.
The median annual wage for occupational therapy assistants was $60,820 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,620, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,980.
In May 2019, the median annual wages for occupational therapy aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) $36,700
Educational services; state, local, and private $35,900
Social assistance $32,580
Hospitals; state, local, and private $29,840
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists    $22,970

In May 2019, the median annual wages for occupational therapy assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)   $65,930
Home healthcare services $65,330
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists $60,440
Hospitals; state, local, and private $55,680
Educational services; state, local, and private             $50,380


Job Outlook


Overall employment of occupational therapy assistants and aides is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities.