Tyler Junior College

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Career Opportunities

Nature of Occupation: 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. 

Working Conditions: Occupational therapy assistants work primarily in occupational therapists' offices and hospitals. They also work in nursing care facilities and for home health agencies. Occupational therapy assistants spend much of their time on their feet setting up equipment and working with patients. Constant kneeling and stooping are part of the job. Most occupational therapy assistants work full time during the day, but may work during the evening and weekends to match patients' schedules. 

Duties Include:

  • Helping patients do therapeutic activities, such as specific stretches and other exercises.
  • Working with children who have developmental disabilities, leading them in play activities that promote coordination. 
  • Teaching patients how to use special equipment.
  • Recording patients' progress, reporting to occupational therapists, and doing other administrative duties.  
  • Helping clients gain or regain independence in daily living skills.

Employment and Outlook: Occupational therapy assistants held about 28,500 jobs in 2010. Employment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase 43 percent from 2010 to 2020. Demand for occupational therapy is expected to rise significantly over the coming decade in response to the health needs of the aging baby-boom generation and a growing elderly population. Older adults are especially prone to conditions such as arthritis that affect their everyday activities. 

Earnings: Nationally, the median annual wage of occupational therapy assistants was $51,010 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earner more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,440 and the top 10 percent earned more than $70,790. Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest number of occupational therapy assistants in May 2010 were as follows:

 Home health care services  $54,950
 Nursing care facilities  $54,460 
 Offices of occupational, physical and speech therapists  $53,910 
 General medical and surgical hospitals  $46,620
 Elementary and secondary schools  $42,700

Entry Level Salary: $41,000 to $50,000, East Texas Area

Interest and Abilities:

  • Deal with difficult patients in various states of pain
  • Be patient and compassionate
  • Work within a team and communicate your observations clearly
  • Make sounds, logical decisions
  • Communicate well with patients
  • Properly follow verbal instructions
  • Providing medical service to individuals
  • Talking and interacting with patients
  • Hospital/medical environments
  • Working under close supervision
  • Have moderate degree of strength because of the physical exercise required