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Occupational Therapy Assistants Career

Career Description

Assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, direct activity programs, and document the progress of treatments. Generally requires formal training.

What Job Titles Occupational Therapy Assistants Might Have

  • Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA)
  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)
  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant-Licensed (COTA-L)
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)

What Occupational Therapy Assistants Do

  • Select therapy activities to fit patients' needs and capabilities.
  • Monitor patients' performance in therapy activities, providing encouragement.
  • Instruct, or assist in instructing, patients and families in home programs, basic living skills, or the care and use of adaptive equipment.
  • Maintain and promote a positive attitude toward clients and their treatment programs.
  • Observe and record patients' progress, attitudes, and behavior and maintain this information in client records.
  • Aid patients in dressing and grooming themselves.
  • Implement, or assist occupational therapists with implementing, treatment plans designed to help clients function independently.
  • Communicate and collaborate with other healthcare professionals involved with the care of a patient.
  • Evaluate the daily living skills or capacities of physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabled clients.
  • Attend continuing education classes.
  • Report to supervisors, verbally or in writing, on patients' progress, attitudes, and behavior.
  • Alter treatment programs to obtain better results if treatment is not having the intended effect.
  • Work under the direction of occupational therapists to plan, implement, or administer educational, vocational, or recreational programs that restore or enhance performance in individuals with functional impairments.
  • Teach patients how to deal constructively with their emotions.
  • Demonstrate therapy techniques, such as manual or creative arts or games.
  • Perform clerical duties, such as scheduling appointments, collecting data, or documenting health insurance billings.
  • Assemble, clean, or maintain equipment or materials for patient use.
  • Attend care plan meetings to review patient progress and update care plans.
  • Order any needed educational or treatment supplies.
  • Transport patients to and from the occupational therapy work area.
  • Design, fabricate, or repair assistive devices or make adaptive changes to equipment or environments.
  • Assist educational specialists or clinical psychologists in administering situational or diagnostic tests to measure client's abilities or progress.

What Occupational Therapy Assistants Should Be Good At

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

What Occupational Therapy Assistants Should Be Interested In

  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Occupational Therapy Assistants Need to Learn

  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Median Salary: $59,010

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.