How to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant


How to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant: Career Path Guide

If you want to become an occupational therapist assistant, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as an occupational therapist assistant:


Those who become occupational therapist assistant are emotionally stable and conduct themselves professionally; traits that are required in order to effectively complete short and long-term tasks related to patient care. They are also deeply caring individuals that are compassionate towards the challenges of others.


Those who become occupational therapist assistants are passionate about helping others and providing the best care possible. Occupational therapists must be able to listen attentively to their patients, their co-workers, and their supervising staff, and they must be able to effectively communicate with them.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an occupational therapist assistant. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant

Although educational requirements may vary by region or employer, you typically need to complete a relevant post-secondary diploma or certificate program, such as an Occupational/Physical Therapy Assistant program, in order to become an occupational therapy assistant. 


Some employers may hire occupational therapist assistants with a high school diploma, and offer them on-the-job training.  




Occupational Therapist Assistant Job Description

Occupational Therapist Assistants (OTA's) are responsible for assisting occupational therapists in the implementation of treatment programs designed for the improvement or development of a client’s ability to function independently. They work under the supervision of occupational therapists in order to support their work with clients whose abilities to adapt and function have been compromised by injury, illness, developmental disorders, social disabilities or aging.


The ultimate goal of an Occupational Therapist Assistant is to improve clients’ quality of life and ability to successfully perform daily activities related to self-care, leisure, and work, school or play. For example, occupational therapist assistants may use group activities to promote social interaction for a patient who suffers form depression, or they may teach recent stroke victims how to safely use a wheelchair.



Occupational Therapist Assistant Job Duties

• Schedule client appointments

• Collect data and statistics

• Oversee inventory and order supplies as needed

• Make minor adjustments and repair to equipment as needed

• Collect relevant materials in preparation for client treatment and education

• Help clients learn skills necessary for daily living

• Help clients maintain or improve performance in moving, thinking and social-emotional areas

• Teach clients how to properly use wheelchairs and other equipment

• Help occupational therapists teach clients about joint protection techniques and energy conservation



Who Hires Occupational Therapist Assistants?

Occupational therapist assistants are hired by organizations that help these people develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapist assistants may be hired by organizations such as:


• Community agencies

• Hospitals, continuing care facilities, rehabilitation centres and clinics

• Elementary and high schools

• Colleges and universities

• Municipal, regional or federal government agencies

• Insurance agencies

• Professional organizations





Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary

The salary level of occupational therapist assistants can vary based on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many others.


Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services occupational group earn an average wage of between $16.80 and $23.60 per hour.


Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides occupational group is $47,490 per year.



Traits Needed to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant

In order to become effective in a career as an occupational therapist assistant, you need to posses certain key personality traits. These traits will help you endure the ups and downs of the career, as well as help you maintain a positive attitude towards your daily work. These traits include:


• Patience for the challenges of others

• Physical and mental stamina required to assist people who have disabilities

• Excellent interpersonal skills, needed for working with people under stress

• Enjoy having clear guidelines for work

• The ability to follow directions

• Enjoy helping people individually and in groups

• Sensitivity to clients' feelings and needs

• Able to work independently and as part of a team

• Creative and manual skills required for activities such as crafts, music, carpentry and sewing



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Careers Similar to Occupational Therapist Assistant

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Occupational Therapist Assistant, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Health Care Aide

Occupational Therapist

Orthopaedic Technician

Physical Therapy Assistant



References: How to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an Occupational Therapist Assistant.


Occupations in Alberta:Occupational Therapist Assistant.” (March 31, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 6, 2020.

Healthcare:Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 6, 2020.

Resources for Students:A Career in Occupational Therapy.” (n.d.). Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists website. Retrieved January 6, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming an Occupational Therapist Assistant

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an Occupational Therapist Assistant can be found on our Exercise Science Scholarships and Kinesiology Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming an Occupational Therapist Assistant: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an occupational therapist assistant. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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