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Career Guide: Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Career Guide: Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment

Occupational therapy assistants and aides held about 33,000 jobs in 2006. Occupational therapy assistants held about 25,000 jobs, and occupational therapy aides held approximately 8,200. About 29 percent of jobs for assistants and aides were in hospitals, 23 percent were in offices of occupational therapists, and 21 percent were in nursing and residential care facilities. The rest were primarily in community care facilities for the elderly, home health care services, individual and family services, and State government agencies.

Job Outlook

Employment is expected to grow much faster than average as demand for occupational therapy services rises and as occupational therapists increasingly use assistants and aides. Job prospects should be very good for occupational therapy assistants. Job seekers holding only a high school diploma might face keen competition for occupational therapy aide jobs.

Employment change. Employment of occupational therapy assistants and aides is expected to grow 25 percent from 2006 to 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. In the short run, the impact of proposed Federal legislation imposing limits on reimbursement for therapy services may adversely affect the job market for occupational therapy assistants and aides. Over the long run, however, demand for occupational therapy assistants and aides will continue to rise because of the increasing number of individuals with disabilities or limited function.

The growing elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require therapeutic services. These patients often need additional assistance in their treatment, making the roles of assistants and aides vital. Also, the large baby-boom generation is entering the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, further increasing the demand for cardiac and physical rehabilitation. In addition, future medical developments should permit an increased percentage of trauma victims to survive, creating added demand for therapy services. An increase of sensory disorders in children will also spur demand for occupational therapy services.

Occupational therapists are expected to increasingly utilize assistants and aides to reduce the cost of occupational therapy services. Once a patient is evaluated and a treatment plan is designed by the therapist, the occupational therapy assistant can provide many aspects of treatment, as prescribed by the therapist.


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