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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 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 110 $56,740
Birmingham 110 $56,740
Gadsden 110 $59,380
Huntsville 50 $59,780
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 360 $63,910
Mesa 360 $63,910
Phoenix 360 $63,910
Tucson 80 $55,700
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 140 $69,510
North Little Rock 140 $69,510
Little Rock 140 $69,510
Jonesboro 30 $68,270
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 830 $68,140
Los Angeles 830 $68,140
Anaheim 830 $68,140
San Diego 390 $72,390
Carlsbad 390 $72,390
Ontario 140 $67,630
San Bernardino 140 $67,630
Riverside 140 $67,630
Arcade 140 $74,150
Arden 140 $74,150
Sacramento 140 $74,150
Roseville 140 $74,150
Hayward 80 $68,510
Oakland 80 $68,510
San Francisco 80 $68,510
Ventura 40 $73,260
Thousand Oaks 40 $73,260
Oxnard 40 $73,260
Santa Clara 30 $53,420
Sunnyvale 30 $53,420
San Jose 30 $53,420
Fresno 30 $70,040
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 260 $50,530
Aurora 260 $50,530
Denver 260 $50,530
Pueblo 80 $48,630
Colorado Springs 60 $53,470
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 230 $61,080
West Hartford 230 $61,080
Hartford 230 $61,080
Bridgeport 90 $61,190
Stamford 90 $61,190
Norwalk 90 $61,190
New Haven 50 $62,280
Waterbury 30 $69,920
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tampa 400 $58,180
St. Petersburg 400 $58,180
Clearwater 400 $58,180
Fort Lauderdale 370 $62,680
Miami 370 $62,680
West Palm Beach 370 $62,680
Melbourne 190 $64,720
Palm Bay 190 $64,720
Titusville 190 $64,720
Orlando 170 $58,560
Kissimmee 170 $58,560
Sanford 170 $58,560
Jacksonville 160 $62,530
Bradenton 140 $63,610
North Port 140 $63,610
Sarasota 140 $63,610
Deltona 80 $66,410
Ormond Beach 80 $66,410
Daytona Beach 80 $66,410
Tallahassee 60 $60,130
Lakeland 60 $61,870
Winter Haven 60 $61,870
Homosassa Springs 50 $63,940
Port St. Lucie 50 $68,540
Ocala 50 $70,320
Brent N/A $59,820
Pensacola N/A $59,820
Ferry Pass N/A $59,820
Panama City N/A $69,500
Cape Coral N/A $71,170
Fort Myers N/A $71,170
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 420 $63,940
Sandy Springs 420 $63,940
Atlanta 420 $63,940
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 50 $53,580
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 30 $57,710
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 100 $56,470
Springfield 40 $52,520
Urbana 40 $54,360
Champaign 40 $54,360
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 410 $60,010
Carmel 410 $60,010
Indianapolis 410 $60,010
Kokomo N/A $58,530
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 60 $57,470
Des Moines 60 $57,470
Cedar Rapids 50 $48,880
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Topeka 90 $59,690
Wichita 60 $57,050
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Owensboro 40 $45,610
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 110 $40,140
Metairie 110 $40,140
Lake Charles 70 $60,970
Monroe 40 $56,250
Lafayette N/A $61,150
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 40 $48,070
Portland 40 $48,070
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 320 $63,450
Columbia 320 $63,450
Baltimore 320 $63,450
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Gardner 50 $51,720
Leominster 50 $51,720
Barnstable Town 50 $59,650
New Bedford 40 $65,360
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 520 $54,210
Dearborn 520 $54,210
Warren 520 $54,210
Grand Rapids 320 $46,000
Wyoming 320 $46,000
Flint 40 $57,860
Portage 30 $58,270
Kalamazoo 30 $58,270
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 100 N/A
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 120 $60,270
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 110 $77,570
Henderson 110 $77,570
Las Vegas 110 $77,570
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 40 $66,670
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheektowaga 220 $44,160
Buffalo 220 $44,160
Niagara Falls 220 $44,160
Rochester 110 $48,850
Albany 100 $46,290
Troy 100 $46,290
Schenectady 100 $46,290
Syracuse 40 $41,010
Utica 40 $45,670
Rome 40 $45,670
Kingston 40 $47,220
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 230 $61,460
Chapel Hill 80 $62,320
Durham 80 $62,320
Morganton 80 $63,370
Lenoir 80 $63,370
Hickory 80 $63,370
Asheville 80 $69,940
Wilmington 70 $51,680
New Bern 60 $70,080
Winston 50 $55,170
Salem 50 $55,170
Fayetteville 50 $62,350
High Point 50 $69,820
Greensboro 50 $69,820
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cleveland 630 $59,780
Elyria 630 $59,780
Columbus 410 $60,050
Toledo 260 $55,700
Dayton 240 $65,800
Massillon 180 $54,580
Canton 180 $54,580
Akron 170 $59,710
Mansfield 50 $57,740
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 210 $60,020
Tulsa 120 $58,720
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 470 $46,890
Carlisle 160 $47,460
Harrisburg 160 $47,460
Lancaster 100 $52,420
Hanover 100 $57,620
York 100 $57,620
Hazleton 90 $42,760
Barre 90 $42,760
Wilkes 90 $42,760
Scranton 90 $42,760
Erie 70 $51,050
Reading 40 $55,980
Altoona N/A $43,810
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 60 $54,680
Mauldin 60 $54,680
Greenville 60 $54,680
Florence 50 $67,270
North Charleston 40 $54,080
Charleston 40 $54,080
Spartanburg 40 $58,870
Columbia 40 $63,650
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls N/A $35,140
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 310 $59,960
Nashville 310 $59,960
Murfreesboro 310 $59,960
Davidson 310 $59,960
Knoxville 140 $58,640
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 1460 $68,880
Fort Worth 1460 $68,880
Arlington 1460 $68,880
The Woodlands 540 $68,730
Sugar Land 540 $68,730
Houston 540 $68,730
New Braunfels 520 $76,590
San Antonio 520 $76,590
Austin 160 $74,250
Round Rock 160 $74,250
Corpus Christi 120 $89,150
Victoria 70 $76,960
Edinburg 70 $80,880
Mission 70 $80,880
McAllen 70 $80,880
Tyler 70 $81,340
Amarillo 50 $57,870
Laredo 30 $64,890
Harlingen 30 $82,450
Brownsville 30 $82,450
El Paso N/A $71,320
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Ogden 60 $57,970
Clearfield 60 $57,970
Salt Lake City 40 $55,300
Orem 30 $55,670
Provo 30 $55,670
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 110 $66,780
Roanoke 70 $59,810
Lynchburg 50 $74,750
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 220 $61,130
Bellevue 220 $61,130
Tacoma 220 $61,130
Spokane Valley 40 $54,820
Spokane 40 $54,820
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 90 $57,970
Beckley 30 $58,540
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 350 $44,610
West Allis 350 $44,610
Milwaukee 350 $44,610
Madison 180 $44,670
Eau Claire 50 $44,920
Neenah 50 $48,400
Oshkosh 50 $48,400
Appleton 50 $50,150
Green Bay N/A $22,920
Beloit N/A $28,540
Janesville N/A $28,540

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.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

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
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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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