The Scoop on Occupational Therapy Aides

Occupational Therapy is more than just therapy for your Occupation (even though some of us really think we need it!).

Occupational Therapy is a very broad discipline that involves giving people therapy not only to do work, but also to succeed at even the simplest daily tasks. Imagine someone who has had a brain injury learning to function again. Even at home, there is "work" to be done, and an Occupational Therapist and their Occupational Therapy Aides strive to help that person recover the physical skills they need to manage the tasks at the workplace and at home. Though this profession is supposed to grow with population, you will find that the need for Occupational Therapy Aides is less than the need for the Therapists themselves. If available, the job is rewarding and invigorating.

What in the World Does an Occupational Therapy Aide Do?

Occupational Therapy Aides make preparations for the OT therapy. If you're doing this job, that means you are in an environment where there are TONS of patients and a workload so large that an OT and their OTA can't get everything done. This is where you come in.

Like most aides, you would prepare the equipment and therapeutic space for the therapy session. You might assist the patient to move from place to place during the appointment. You would be responsible for most of clerical work, phones, billing, scheduling, insurance forms, etc.

Because this job isn't licensed, you are very limited in what you may do with patients. This kind of work is perfect for someone who needs on the job training while they are in school to become an OTA.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

With no license requirement, very little "formal' training is required. An OT Aide typically learns "on the job" and is trained under an OT or an OTA. Because no training programs for this type of work are available, a high school diploma is usually required, along with strong communication skills and people skills.

You should get information on certification and licensure for the next step up, becoming an OTA, when you must be licensed locally and certified nationally. Take this job as the perfect opportunity to be ready for a training program in Occupational Therapy Assistantship.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Just like any other job where there are people assisting people, you have to go where you can assist people. Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and health clinics all employ OT Aides because the OTs and OTAs need help managing the workload on site. It is advisable not only to look for jobs that are listed as "Occupational Therapy Aide," but also to note where they are seeking candidates for Occupational Therapy and Assistant jobs. You can then inquire at those facilities whether they need OT Aides.

The "corporate ladder" is the longest for OT Aides because they are the bottom rung. The easiest method for advancement is to go to a training program and become an OTA. You will find both your on-the-job training to be an OT aide and your work environment useful in getting you through the OTA training program, because much of what you need to know is happening near you while you are at work.

After working your way up to being an OTA, the next step would be to go to college and get your Bachelor's and Master's Degree to become a "certified" OT. This may take time, but if you are committed to helping people recover, you will enjoy this path. Another career path is to get into a management position where you are in charge of all kinds of assistants and aides in a hospital or health clinic. This would lead you out of pure "medical" endeavors and into administration, maybe the right occupational choice for you.

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Occupational Therapist Aides Overview

Occupational Therapist Aide Salary:$26,960
Job Prospects:B
Education after high school:0 years
# Employed in US:7,410
% Who work Part Time:18%
Physical Difficulty:+ + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being an Occupational Therapy Aide

  • The training is all on the job
  • You can do this job and be in a training program to be an OTA
  • You can get into supervision of other aides and assistants if you don't want to keep going back to school

The Cons of being an Occupational Therapy Aide

  • You do all the grunt work in an office
  • You are not licensed and can only help patients on a limited basis
  • This is the ground level for this field