By becoming an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) you can help patients while enjoying a rewarding career. According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual occupational therapy assistant salary is $61,880 per year ($29.75 per hour).*
Average Salary for Occupational Therapy Assistants by State
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Overall employment of occupational therapy assistants and aides is projected to grow 33 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average occupation in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Occupational therapy assistant vs. other related jobs in healthcare
Weighing your career options in healthcare? There are many starting points depending on your professional goals. Here is a quick comparison with other common career choices in healthcare:
Keep in mind there are different education requirements for each career path. For example, to become a registered nurse you will need to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Each path requires varied levels of investment in terms of both time and tuition.
With further experience as an OTA you have the potential to qualify for jobs with higher pay. Becoming an occupational therapy assistant can also offer opportunities for advancement, including administrative, managerial or academic roles.
What do occupational therapy assistants do?
Occupational therapy assistants help patients and individuals develop, recover, improve and maintain everyday skills needed for work and life. This may include working in pediatrics helping children with disabilities participate fully in school, helping people who have been injured regain skills, and providing support to older adults who experience physical or cognitive changes.
Occupational therapy plays an important role in treating people with various illnesses and disabilities to help them gain greater independence. Occupational therapy assistants help patients focus on fine motor skills, such as using utensils, while physical therapy assistants (PTAs) focus on gross motor skills, such as running and jumping. OTAs duties also differ from certified nurse assistants (CNA). CNAs focus more on providing personal care for patients, such as bathing and dressing.
OTAs may work in health care settings such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers or nursing homes. They may also work in occupational therapists' offices, schools or in patients' home settings. No matter the company they work for, OTAs always work under the direction of professional occupational therapists.
OTA vs. PTA?
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the direction of a physical therapist to help people return to daily activity which may encompass movement related recreational pursuits, work, or sports. PTAs also offer patients injury prevention strategies related to fitness and movement. Read more about what a PTA does, the average PTA salary and how you can become a PTA.
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) work under the direction of an occupational therapist to help people of all ages who have a disability, condition or injury which interferes with their ability to carry out daily self-care, school or work tasks. OT/OTAs work on cognition as well as the physical aspect of care.
Get more detail about the biggest differences between occupational therapy assistants vs. physical therapist assistants.
What education do occupational therapy assistants need?
To become an OTA, you will need an associate's degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program. At Herzing University, our OTA degree program in Minneapolis, Minnesota can help you reach your goal of becoming an OTA. Herzing’s program can be completed in as little as 24 months, so you can be on your way to a rewarding career quickly.
Interested in earning a bachelor's degree? After gaining experience as an OTA you may consider earning a bachelor's degree in health sciences. This can be a great way for OTAs to qualify for more types of roles and advance their careers.
Will I need to be certified?
Yes. In order to practice as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) in Minnesota you will be required to pass the NBCOT certification exam. Graduate with a degree from Herzing’s accredited OTA program*, pass the NBCOT and you’ll be prepared to start your career!