Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
There are approximately 44,990 occupational therapy assistants and 7,560 occupational therapy aides employed in the United States. Assistants and aides work in many different environments, including hospital settings, offices of other health practitioners, and nursing facilities. Other assistants and aides work in community care facilities for the elderly, home health care services, outpatient rehabilitation centers, state government agencies, and elementary and secondary schools.
The career services office of your local community college or technical school can provide a listing of jobs available in the occupational therapy field. Job openings are usually posted online or in hospital human resource departments. Professional groups are also a good source of information; for example, the American Occupational Therapy Association's Web site has an employment page for members.
After gaining some relevant work experience, occupational therapy assistants can be promoted to lead assistant. Lead assistants are responsible for making work schedules of other assistants and for the training of occupational therapy students. Since occupational therapy assistants work under the supervision of an occupational therapist, there is little room for advancement. Aides may return to school and train to become occupational therapy assistants. Some assistants and aides return to school to become occupational therapists. Some shift to other health care careers.
Tips for Entry
Develop and maintain a regimen of regular physical exercise in order to develop your muscles and stamina—qualities an OTA must have to lift persons and heavy equipment.
Develop your communication skills by studying English and communications, since your work will involved giving and following instructions and describing movements.
Volunteer or acquire a part-time job at a hospital or health care facility that will allow you to work with occupational therapists and patients.