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What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?

Occupational therapy assistants are in demand. Find out what exactly they do.


It’s a great time to become an occupational therapy assistant. Benefits of being an OTA include a balanced work environment, great pay and job opportunities, and the chance to improve someone’s quality of life.

OTAs work with children, adults, and the elderly with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. These healthcare professionals are focused on physical well-being, but also on the psychological, social, and environmental factors that may affect a client’s daily functions.

Related resource: 7 Fast Facts About Being an Occupational Therapy Assistant

What does an occupational therapy assistant’s day look like?

Occupational therapists (OTs) customize a plan of care that may include creating adaptive tools that allow the client to be more independent as they get dressed, brush their teeth, use a writing utensil, and go through hundreds of other activities of daily living (ADLs).

An occupational therapist is concerned with carrying out that plan of care, and works with the client on gaining the independence to perform the ADLs that they are trying to either gain or regain proficiency with.

Related resource: 10 Creative OTA Therapy Ideas to Improve Skills and Function

The services of an OTA usually involve:

  • Customized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities
  • Comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations
  • Skill performance assessments and treatment
  • Adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training.
  • Guidance to family members and caregivers

Where does an occupational therapy assistant work?

OTAs can be found anywhere people are struggling with the activities of daily living. The most common work environments for occupational therapy assistants are:

  • Hospitals
  • School systems
  • Client homes
  • Nursing care facilities

One benefit of the OT environment is the opportunity for mentorship. Working with an occupational therapist (with a master’s degree) can help you decide if you want to advance your career by completing a bridge program to become an occupational therapist yourself.

What can I expect in becoming an OTA?

At Ameritech’s accelerated program becoming an OTA takes less than two years. Those who choose this career enjoy flexibility, on-going education, a competitive salary, and promising job growth. Here’s what to expect in a career as an OTA:

OTA Education

While going to school for their associate’s degree, OTAs study:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Psychology
  • Rehabilitation theory
  • Gerontology

After completing an associate degree in science from a school that’s accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), you’ll need to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. You must be a Certified OTA to work in any state in the country.

OTA income and job growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for OTAs is $56,070 per year. However, depending on what certifications they pursue or where they work, some OTAs can make much more than that.

Related resource: What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Make?

The BLS also affirms that job opportunities for OTAs are expected to increase 28 percent from 2016 to 2026—significantly faster than other occupations.

Ameritech’s OTA program offers clinical practice, classroom instruction, and rigorous coursework in just five semesters. Visit our program page for more information about our OTA or our other healthcare programs.

What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?