Occupational Therapist Assistants work closely with Occupational Therapists to help patients learn to live as normal of a life as possible despite physical, social, or psychological limitations. OT’s work with individuals that have disorders ranging from social anxiety, to physical handicaps, to food texture aversions. With such a wide range of patient needs, Occupational Therapists are among the most highly skilled medical professionals.
What Does it Take to Become an OTA?
In the United States you must first earn your Associate’s Degree from a school that has been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The AOTA certifies institutions ranging from private Universities, to small technical colleges and community colleges. Currently there are almost 200 accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant programs in the U.S.
After earning your Associate’s Degree, the next step is to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination. You must pass the NBCOT exam in order to work as an Occupational Therapist Assistant.
Seven Skills Will You Need to be a Successful OTA
- Good Communication Skills: You will spend a lot of time listening to your patients and their families while you assess their individual needs, and explaining methods and procedures in a way that they can easily understand.
- Problem Solving Skills: Every patient will have unique problems and as the therapist you will need to figure out what is affecting them and how you will go about helping them through their issues.
- Patience: Patients can be depressed, frustrated, moody, or just kids being kids. Some patients will have mental conditions that make even the simplest activities very challenging. Through all of this you have a job to do and you must maintain an encouraging professional attitude.
- Compassion and Empathy: You have to care about your patients and their progress. When they are struggling, you need to feel that struggle and encourage and help them work through it.
- Creativity: Different patients will respond to different therapy methods, and some will require extreme out of the box thinking on your part. Coming up with solutions to overwhelmingly difficult problems can be a daily challenge in the OT world.
- Organizational skills: You must keep thorough, well organized treatment records for all of your patients in order to make sure progress is made from session to session.
- Desire to Help Others: At the core of all Occupational Therapy is helping people overcome difficult obstacles in their lives. The desire to help others is what will drive you to be the most effective Occupational Therapist you can possibly be.
What is the Employment Outlook for OTA’s?
According to Careerinfonet.org, the employment outlook for this occupation looks great! The following chart shows a 43% increase in job openings over the 10 year period 2010-2020.
|Job Openings 1|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||28,500||40,800||+43%||1,680|
– 1Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.
Why Should You Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant?
- Get to work with people
- Get to help people improve their lives
- OT encourages creativity
- Help people discover their own strength and confidence
- Huge demand for new Occupational Therapists
- OT embraces the mind-body connection
Why Will You Love Being an Occupational Therapist?
Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapists Assistants work with people of all ages from infants to elderly that have a wide variety of disorders and disabilities, making every day unique. Most OT’s will agree that what is consistent every day is the satisfaction they receive from knowing that every day they are helping people live easier, happier lives. Few jobs in the medical field are as rewarding as the work done by Occupational Therapists. Seeing the joy in a parent’s face when their child makes a breakthrough in their treatment is a priceless moment and makes even the most challenging days tremendously happy.