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What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Make?


Being an OTA allows you to devote yourself to a lifetime of caring. But pay is important, too.

If you become an occupational therapy assistant you’ll make a difference in other people’s lives on a regular basis. However, anyone considering a new career also has to think about how much they’ll make in their new vocation. This is how much occupational therapy assistants make, and how their salaries can vary.

Related Resource: What Is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Average OTA pay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median pay for occupational therapy assistants was $56,070 per year. That comes out to $26.96 per hour. So OTAs earn right around the median household income of the United States, which is just over $55,000 per year.

However, just like all jobs, there’s variation based on region and specialization, and you’ll have much room for advancement.

Related Resource: 10 Reasons OTAs Love Their Work

Variations in pay and industry growth

According to the BLS, the top industries with the highest median pay for OTAs in 2016 were:

  • Home health care at $70,360.
  • Management of companies and enterprises at $65,740.
  • Skilled nursing facilities at $64,780.
  • Employment services at $64,400.
  • Other ambulatory healthcare services at $63,640.

Regional economies also shape OTA pay. Here are the top five states according to the BLS.

  • Texas: $74,070
  • Arkansas: $67,290
  • New Jersey: $66,120
  • Maryland: $65,350
  • California: $64,870

The BLS also breaks down OTA pay city by city. The top five metro areas are:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada, at $123,510.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, at $84,050.
  • Tyler, Texas, at $81,950.
  • San Antonio, Texas, at $80,610.
  • McAllen, Texas, at $79,610.

It looks like everything really is bigger in Texas, including OTA pay!

And, the field is growing. Between 2016 and 2026 the BLS estimates that employment for OTAs is expected to grow by a whopping 25 percent, which is much faster than many other fields.

Related Resource: What Does an OTA Do?

Other benefits to being an OTA

Besides the salary, becoming an OTA also has other benefits. As someone who makes daily life possible for others, you’ll do meaningful work. One of the biggest indicators of whether or not someone likes their job is if they can see the value in it. There are plenty of professions where, frankly, it can be hard to immediately see how what you’re doing is bringing good into the world. OTAs don’t have that problem. You’ll see meaning in every step your of progress your clients make.

Being an OTA is also an active job. You’ll be up and about on a regular basis, and while you’ll spend some time behind a desk, that won’t be your life. Being able to avoid the downsides of a sedentary lifestyle is a major benefit of being an OTA. Do it if you’re excited about getting up, getting out there, and improving people’s lives with your new career!

If you’ve ever considered a career as an OTA, check out our e-book on seven facts about our OTA program, and be sure to join our community on Facebook.