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.


  • 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.


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 the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Occupational Therapist Assistants jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 1,460 $71,770
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 830 $61,240
Cleveland-Elyria 630 $61,010
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 540 $65,110
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 520 $54,790
San Antonio-New Braunfels 520 $80,610
Pittsburgh 470 $47,160
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 420 $63,650
Columbus 410 $61,040
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson 410 $62,240

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to occupational therapist assistants

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

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Occupational Therapist Assistants

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment 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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