Occupational Therapy Assistant Jobs
How do I know if becoming an occupational therapy assistant is the right choice for me?If you’re thinking about a career in occupational therapy, you’ve probably already found yourself inspired by the thought of helping people maximize their occupational capabilities so as to experience the freedom that comes with a greater level of mobility and independence. If the idea of being able to help facilitate someone’s recovery from debilitating limitations is compelling to you, and if you have the patient and caring spirit that is required of those who dedicate tireless hours to the service of others, than you’re cut out for a career as an occupational therapy assistant.
Before applying to an OTA program, do some research. First, try to volunteer or do an observation at a local hospital, clinic or school to see what an occupational therapy assistant does during the day. What is the environment like where OTAs work? What kinds of things are OTAs responsible for? Some occupational therapy assistant schools actually require a number of volunteer hours as an admissions requirement, so establishing a good relationship with a hospital or clinic can give you a leg up in the application process.
Where do occupational therapy assistants work?Occupational therapy assistants work in hospitals, rehabilitation units, home health agencies, outpatient clinics or skilled nursing facilities. OTAs who work with children might work in early outreach programs, public schools, pediatric hospitals or rehabilitation units. Occupational therapy professionals are also very involved in the successful treatment of people with mental health challenges, so OTAs often find themselves working in psychiatric hospitals or clinics.
There are additional employment opportunities in less clinical environments such as teaching positions in OTA programs, or even rehabilitation based administrative roles.
Who kinds of clients do occupational therapy assistants work with?An OTA can work with just about anyone. From the child with cerebral palsy who needs therapy to develop a functional neuromuscular system, to the elderly woman who has broken a hip, to the adult man who sustained an injury on the job. Each of these people is in need of therapeutic intervention to help them achieve optimal function, and facilitating this is the very definition of an occupational therapist assistant’s job. An OTA may work with fragile and delicate patients in an acute care setting within a hospital, or with men and women recovering from injuries so that they can get back to work. An OTA may work with soldiers and veterans returning from war with debilitating injuries, or they may work with infants showing signs of neuromuscular disorders. Because the variety of patients in need of recuperative therapy is almost endless, occupational therapy assistant jobs are uniquely dynamic, as well as fun and challenging.
What is the job outlook for an occupational therapy assistant?According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for OTAs is much higher than average, with anticipated growth of 30 percent by 2018. Increased access to health care, an aging population, and a large number of veterans returning from war means that the number of people seeking the rehabilitative services of occupational therapy assistants will be increasing steadily in the years to come.
Are occupational therapy assistants satisfied with their careers?Occupational therapy professionals, along with physical therapy professionals, consistently rate their careers as very satisfying. Good earning potential and job security combined with a strong sense of accomplishment and contribution makes a career in occupational therapy rewarding and satisfying.
Do occupational therapy assistants have opportunities for career growth?Occupational therapy assistants may find opportunities in personnel management within departments and organizations where they supervise other OTAs or provide administrative support for rehabilitation managers. An OTA may become the senior therapist for fieldwork placement students from local OTA departments or colleges. An OTA can also decide to get further formal education and training to become an occupational therapist.
Are there professional organizations that support the careers of an OTA?The American Occupational Therapy Association is the best-known national organization that supports the profession of occupational therapy. AOTA assumes a role of centralizing information for the profession, advocating for the profession when discussing national health care policy, and making efforts to improve access to health care and rehabilitation services for the nation’s population. Members of the occupational therapy profession can choose to join AOTA to connect with other professionals so as to better maintain an awareness of changes in the profession including legislation that improves the public’s access to the services of occupational therapists and their assistants.
Learn more about occupational therapy assistant programs.