Occupational Therapy Assistant

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Occupational therapy assistants work under the direction of occupational therapists in treating patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are typically directly involved in giving therapy.

Occupational therapy assistants typically do the following:

  • Help patients do therapeutic activities, such as specific stretches and other exercises
  • Work with children who have development disabilities, leading them in play activities that promote coordination
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment; for example, showing a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use devices that make eating easier
  • Record patients’ progress, report to occupational therapists, and do other administrative tasks

Occupational therapy assistants collaborate with occupational therapists to develop a treatment plan for each patient. Then, the occupational therapy assistant carries out the plan with the patient. Activities in the plans range from teaching the proper way to move from a bed into a wheelchair to the best way to stretch and limber one’s muscles.

For example, an occupational therapy assistant might work with injured workers to help them get back into the work force by teaching them how to work around lost motor skills. An occupational therapy assistant might work with people with learning disabilities to teach them skills that let them be more independent.

Assistants monitor activities to make sure patients are doing them correctly. They also encourage the patients. They record the patient’s progress so the therapist can change the treatment plan if the patient is not getting the desired results.

Career Outlook: 
Career Outlook data is specific to New Hampshire State.
Number of Jobs 2010: 
129
Number of Projected Jobs 2020: 
153
Jobs Percentage Change: 
18.6%
Total Annual Openings: 
4
Growth Outlook: 
Favorable
June 2013 Entry Level Wage: 
$17.80
June 2013 Mean Wage: 
$24.45
June 2013 Experienced Wage: 
$27.78
Salary Range: 
$40,000 - $60,000
Education Requirements: 
Programs: 
Time to Complete: 
2 years

Education Levels:

School Type: 
New Hampshire Community College
License and Certification Requirements: 
Coding Certification Required: 
Yes
Coding License Required: 
Yes
Certification(s) Required: 
Yes
List of Required Certifications: 
Certification in Occupational Therapy
Certification Requirements: 
To be certified you must: graduate with an accredited/approved entry-level occupational therapy degree; complete all fieldwork requirements; submit an official final college or university transcript that indicates the date of graduation and degree title or NBCOT Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF); agree to abide by the NBCOT Code of Conduct, and attain a passing score on the NBCOT OTR or COTA certification examination.
License Required: 
Yes
License Requirements: 
To be certified you must: be at least 17 years of age; complete an academic program in occupational therapy accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or its successor organization; complete a minimum of two months of supervised fieldwork experience, and pass a written national certification examination. Applicants for Certification for the use of Physical Agent Modalities (PAMs) who are not currently licensed in NH as a Physical Therapist Assistant must also either hold a currently valid certificate issued by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission or complete professional education consisting of six hours in ultrasound modalities and 15 hours relating to electrical stimulation modalities; and demonstrate competencies in a supervised clinical application (SCA)
Career Categories: 

Types of Work:

Workplace Environment: 
Long-Term Care Facility
Private Medical Practice or Private Company
Types of Interaction: 
Direct Patient Interaction
Integrated Team Member