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Career Guide: Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Career Guide: Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

An associate degree or a certificate from an accredited community college or technical school is generally required to qualify for occupational therapy assistant jobs. In contrast, occupational therapy aides usually receive most of their training on the job.

Education and training. There were 126 accredited occupational therapy assistant programs in 2007. The first year of study typically involves an introduction to health care, basic medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. In the second year, courses are more rigorous and usually include occupational therapy courses in areas such as mental health, adult physical disabilities, gerontology, and pediatrics. Students also must complete 16 weeks of supervised fieldwork in a clinic or community setting.

Is Occupational Therapy the Right Place for You?

1. Are you comfortable in a position of authority?

Of course!
Sometimes
Never!

Applicants to occupational therapy assistant programs can improve their chances of admission by taking high school courses in biology and health and by performing volunteer work in nursing care facilities, occupational or physical therapists’ offices, or other health care settings.

Occupational therapy aides usually receive most of their training on the job. Qualified applicants must have a high school diploma, strong interpersonal skills, and a desire to help people in need. Applicants may increase their chances of getting a job by volunteering their services, thus displaying initiative and aptitude to the employer.

Licensure. In most States, occupational therapy assistants are regulated and must pass a national certification examination after they graduate. Those who pass the test are awarded the title “Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.”

Other qualifications. Assistants and aides must be responsible, patient, and willing to take directions and work as part of a team. Furthermore, they should be caring and want to help people who are not able to help themselves.

Advancement. Occupational therapy assistants may advance into administration positions. They might organize all the assistants in a large occupational therapy department or act as the director for a specific department such as sports medicine. Some assistants go on to teach classes in accredited occupational therapy assistant academic programs or lead health risk reduction classes for the elderly.


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