How Can I Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Occupational therapy assistants help people recover from injuries and regain their physical or developmental functionality by practicing everyday activities. Learn about the education and certification options for a career as an occupational therapy assistant. Schools offering Occupational Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Would I Do as an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

As an occupational therapy assistant, you would work with an occupational therapist to help rehabilitate patients with mental, physical or developmental setbacks. Your main goal as an occupational therapy assistant is to help your patient regain the movement they need to return to work or complete daily activities. You need to have an encouraging demeanor to help frustrated patients work through their exercises, in addition to the physical strength to help them stand or otherwise assist movement. The occupational therapist will develop the treatment plans that you would enact with each patient.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

You need some formal training, such as an associate's degree, to begin work as an occupational therapy assistant. The American Occupational Therapy Association created the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education to accredit training programs for occupational therapists and therapy assistants. In a 2-year associate's degree program in occupational therapy assisting, you study anatomy, medical terminology, physiology and healthcare fundamentals. Many states require occupational therapy assistants to be licensed as well, so check with your state's board to see if you need to pass a licensing or certification exam.

How Could I Advance My Career?

In order to demonstrate your professional ability as an occupational therapy assistant, you may choose to seek voluntary certification from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. After you have completed a training program, you are eligible to sit for the certification exam for the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) credential.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides is expected to increase by 30% in the decade from 2008-2018, which is much faster than average for all other occupations (www.bls.gov). With an aging population, your services and expertise may be more in demand as occupational therapists increasingly employ assistants to meet rising needs.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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