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Occupational Therapist Assistants

Occupational therapist assistants, also known as occupational therapy assistants, are part of a team that provides treatments for emotional, physical, mental and developmental impairments and disabilities. The goal of the treatments is to enhance the patients' quality of life and improve the patients' ability to perform daily activities.

The treatment plan is created in collaboration with an occupational therapist. Occupational therapist assistants help patients with rehabilitative activities and exercises. They ensure the client is performing the activities properly. They work under the supervision of an occupational therapist.

Some of the common job titles are certified occupational therapy assistant-licensed (COTA-L), certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), licensed occupational therapy assistant and occupational therapy assistant.

Responsibilities

  • Consult with an occupational therapist to develop a treatment plan
  • Teach patients to stretch and strengthen their muscles
  • Record the billing of the patient's health insurance provider
  • Evaluate the the daily living skills and capacities of clients that are developmentally or emotionally disabled
  • Supervise clients to ensure that are following their treatment plan
  • Teach clients how to dress and feed themselves
  • Help choose activities that meet the needs and capabilities of clients
  • Monitor treatment plans and make adjustments to the plans when necessary
  • Provide a report to occupational therapists regarding the progress of patients

Job Characteristics

Occupational therapy assistants usually work 40 hours per week. Many outpatient therapy offices and clinics provide evening and weekend sessions to accommodate their clients' schedules. Occupational therapy assistants need to have patience, compassion and a desire to help people. They need to be good at working with their hands. They may have to lift patients and they continually stoop, kneel and stand.

Employment Outlook

Employment for occupational therapist assistants is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow 30 percent between 2008 and 2018. The growing elderly population will increase the demand for occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistants. In addition, occupational therapy assistants have opportunities to advance into administrative jobs.

The median annual wages in 2008 for occupational therapist assistants was $48,230. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $65,160. Regarding the industries employing the largest amount of occupational therapist assistants, the home health care services sector provided the highest median annual earnings in 2008.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

In order to take the national certifying exam for occupational therapist assistants, candidates are required to attend a school that has received accreditation form the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. The programs typically provide an associate degree.

Completing at least 16 weeks of supervised fieldwork in a clinic or community environment is part of the education programs. Applicants can improve their chances of being admitted to an occupational therapy assistant program by completing high school courses in health and biology, and by volunteering at a occupational therapist's office or a nursing care facility or another type of healthcare setting.

The practice of occupational therapist assistants is regulated in forty states through licensing, certification or registration. The eligibility requirements vary by state.

Occupational therapist assistants are certified by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapists. Certification is voluntary. The title of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant is given to those that pass the test. In some states, passing the national certification exam meets the requirement for regulation.

Resources

Major Employers

The top job providers are hospitals, residential care facilities, occupational therapists' offices and home healthcare agencies.

Schools for Occupational Therapist Assistants are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Occupational Therapist Assistants

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Occupational Therapist Assistants jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 120 $57,120
Birmingham 120 $57,120
Gadsden 100 $58,010
Huntsville 40 $58,920
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 290 $62,530
Mesa 290 $62,530
Phoenix 290 $62,530
Tucson 70 $54,700
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 90 $69,620
North Little Rock 90 $69,620
Little Rock 90 $69,620
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 790 $67,080
Long Beach 790 $67,080
Anaheim 790 $67,080
Carlsbad 420 $70,390
San Diego 420 $70,390
Ontario 190 $67,670
San Bernardino 190 $67,670
Riverside 190 $67,670
San Francisco 130 $66,120
Oakland 130 $66,120
Hayward 130 $66,120
Ventura 40 $67,550
Thousand Oaks 40 $67,550
Oxnard 40 $67,550
Sunnyvale 30 $63,120
Santa Clara 30 $63,120
San Jose 30 $63,120
Arcade N/A $74,460
Roseville N/A $74,460
Sacramento N/A $74,460
Arden N/A $74,460
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 300 N/A
Aurora 300 N/A
Denver 300 N/A
Pueblo 80 $45,020
Colorado Springs 60 $51,900
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 270 $59,110
East Hartford 270 $59,110
West Hartford 270 $59,110
Bridgeport 60 $59,340
Norwalk 60 $59,340
Stamford 60 $59,340
New Haven 50 $61,130
Waterbury 40 $67,140
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Lauderdale 300 $63,760
Miami 300 $63,760
West Palm Beach 300 $63,760
Melbourne 210 $63,320
Palm Bay 210 $63,320
Titusville 210 $63,320
St. Petersburg 200 $63,160
Tampa 200 $63,160
Clearwater 200 $63,160
Jacksonville 160 $59,130
Sanford 140 $57,170
Orlando 140 $57,170
Kissimmee 140 $57,170
Fort Myers 90 $68,630
Cape Coral 90 $68,630
Port St. Lucie 80 $65,500
Homosassa Springs 80 $68,600
North Port 60 $48,960
Sarasota 60 $48,960
Bradenton 60 $48,960
Ocala 50 $68,850
Daytona Beach 50 $71,250
Ormond Beach 50 $71,250
Deltona 50 $71,250
Tallahassee 40 $58,250
Lakeland N/A $57,450
Winter Haven N/A $57,450
Ferry Pass N/A $64,160
Pensacola N/A $64,160
Brent N/A $64,160
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 300 $57,680
Sandy Springs 300 $57,680
Atlanta 300 $57,680
Valdosta 40 $65,240
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 50 $51,930
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 30 $57,510
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 100 $57,060
Bloomington 30 $63,240
Rockford N/A $62,820
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 390 $58,560
Anderson 390 $58,560
Carmel 390 $58,560
Goshen 30 $55,510
Elkhart 30 $55,510
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 80 $55,490
West Des Moines 80 $55,490
Cedar Falls 30 $49,430
Waterloo 30 $49,430
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Topeka 100 $58,950
Wichita 50 $56,650
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 80 $61,980
Lexington 80 $61,980
Owensboro 30 $46,010
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baton Rouge 110 N/A
Metairie 90 $37,530
New Orleans 90 $37,530
Bossier City 40 $39,560
Shreveport 40 $39,560
Lake Charles N/A $66,980
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 400 $62,540
Columbia 400 $62,540
Baltimore 400 $62,540
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Leominster 50 $55,870
Gardner 50 $55,870
New Bedford 40 $57,160
Barnstable Town N/A $57,830
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 500 $50,610
Detroit 500 $50,610
Warren 500 $50,610
Wyoming 300 $45,100
Grand Rapids 300 $45,100
Portage 50 $45,940
Kalamazoo 50 $45,940
Saginaw 40 $40,160
Flint 30 $51,600
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 130 $57,190
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 140 $72,590
Henderson 140 $72,590
Las Vegas 140 $72,590
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 40 $65,530
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheektowaga 240 $42,920
Buffalo 240 $42,920
Niagara Falls 240 $42,920
Rochester 130 $50,820
Troy 90 $44,800
Albany 90 $44,800
Schenectady 90 $44,800
Syracuse 80 $42,380
Kingston 50 $44,710
Rome 30 $48,940
Utica 30 $48,940
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 220 $56,800
Winston 90 $51,790
Salem 90 $51,790
Wilmington 80 $51,920
Chapel Hill 70 $57,340
Durham 70 $57,340
Morganton 70 $61,050
Lenoir 70 $61,050
Hickory 70 $61,050
Asheville 70 $68,860
Fayetteville 40 $58,750
High Point 30 $70,440
Greensboro 30 $70,440
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 430 $58,600
Cleveland 430 $58,600
Columbus 310 $57,300
Dayton 210 $59,980
Canton 180 $55,940
Massillon 180 $55,940
Toledo 180 $56,990
Akron 150 $57,610
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 240 $58,850
Tulsa 180 $62,920
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 630 $45,390
Carlisle 180 $47,360
Harrisburg 180 $47,360
Wilkes 100 $44,030
Barre 100 $44,030
Hazleton 100 $44,030
Scranton 100 $44,030
Lancaster 90 $51,890
Altoona 50 $41,080
Hanover 50 $58,500
York 50 $58,500
Erie 30 $52,550
Reading N/A $51,880
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Spartanburg 80 $60,530
Anderson 50 $50,860
Mauldin 50 $50,860
Greenville 50 $50,860
Florence 50 $63,610
North Charleston 30 $49,090
Charleston 30 $49,090
Columbia N/A $80,940
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 270 $58,610
Murfreesboro 270 $58,610
Davidson 270 $58,610
Nashville 270 $58,610
Knoxville 110 $54,090
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Arlington 1970 $67,460
Fort Worth 1970 $67,460
Dallas 1970 $67,460
San Antonio 490 $71,560
New Braunfels 490 $71,560
The Woodlands 350 $68,120
Sugar Land 350 $68,120
Houston 350 $68,120
Round Rock 140 $63,660
Austin 140 $63,660
El Paso 130 $77,300
Corpus Christi 110 $77,470
McAllen 80 $72,220
Mission 80 $72,220
Edinburg 80 $72,220
Tyler 80 $80,820
Beaumont 40 $65,500
Port Arthur 40 $65,500
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 50 $59,860
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 80 $63,660
Roanoke 50 $65,520
Lynchburg 40 $70,120
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 240 $61,630
Tacoma 240 $61,630
Seattle 240 $61,630
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 110 $56,440
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 230 $45,480
Milwaukee 230 $45,480
West Allis 230 $45,480
Madison 150 $45,500
Green Bay 30 $42,540
Neenah 30 $47,370
Oshkosh 30 $47,370
Appleton N/A $49,150
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 30 $49,630

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Occupational Therapist Assistants

To find out more about building a career as Occupational Therapist Assistants, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Occupational Therapist Assistants

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 9,510 37% $50,640
Hospital 6,660 26% $45,840
Nursing And Residential Care 5,370 21% $50,060
Education 1,900 7% $41,420
Social Service 740 2% $39,200
Government 550 2% $44,700
Office Services And Staffing 480 1% $55,400
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
Results:  10
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Occupational Therapist Assistants.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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