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Occupational Therapy Aide: Career Information

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Job Description:

An occupational therapy aide (OT Aide) prepares materials and equipment for occupational therapists and assistants to use to treat patients who have lost the ability to perform activities of daily living. He or she helps patients who need assistance getting to and from treatment rooms. Patients are typically ill or have an injury or a disability. An OT aide may also be responsible for clerical duties such as answering phones, scheduling appointments and filing patient records. Unlike an occupational therapist or an occupational therapy assistant, an OT aide does not provide direct patient care but he or she helps facilitate treatment by providing support for those who do.

Employment Facts:

There were 8000 occupational therapy aides employed in 2010. Most worked for physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists and audiologists. Many had jobs in nursing care facilities and hospitals. A few worked in elementary and secondary schools.

To accommodate patients' schedules, occupational therapy aides may have to work nights and weekends. They usually have full-time jobs.

Educational Requirements:

Employers usually provide on-the-job training for new occupational therapy aides. A job candidate must have a high school or equivalency diploma but does not need formal training although some employers do prefer prior work experience. One will spend a period of time—from a few weeks to a few months—working alongside a more experience aide or an occupational therapy assistant.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements:

Certain personal characteristics make some people better suited for this occupation. Because patients are struggling with even the most basic activities, you will need to be compassionate. Good interpersonal skills are a must as well. Helping patients prepare for their treatment will require physical strength. Finally, in order to follow the occupational therapists' or assistants' instructions both quickly and accurately, you will need to be detail oriented.

Job Outlook:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for occupational therapy aides will be much faster than the average for all occupations through 2020. Those with experience will have the best job prospects.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings:

Occupational therapy aides earned a median annual salary of $28,200 and median hourly wages of $13.56 in 2011.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much an Occupational Therapy Aide currently earns in your city.

A Day in an Occupational Therapy Aide's Life:

On a typical day an occupational therapy aide's tasks might include:

  • setting up equipment that an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant needs for a therapy session
  • helping patients get to and from treatment areas
  • answering phone, scheduling appointments and doing other clerical tasks
  • helping clients complete insurance forms

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Occupational Therapy Aide, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited January 18, 2013).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Occupational Therapy Aide, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/31-2012.00 (visited January 18, 2013).

Should You Become an Occupational Therapy Aide? Take a Quiz to Find Out.

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