There are many reasons why a patient may require occupational therapy rehabilitation services. Birth defects, motor vehicle accidents, heart diseases, mental health problems, mental disabilities, sports injuries, falls, and spinal cord injuries are some of the conditions.
Occupational Therapy Assistants are also known as OTAs. They provide treatment to children and adults of all ages with disabilities, injuries, and illnesses under the supervision of health care therapists. Initially, the assistants work together with OTs to develop a treatment regimen for the patient. They then provide direct hands-on assistance by walking patients through the treatment plan step by step. They rely on therapeutic use of everyday routine work in treating patients; for example, an occupational therapy assistant may teach a patient, who lost their motor skills from an accident, to eat, dress, tidy up, and may bring them to and from the occupational therapy facility. They may sometimes teach patients to use special equipment to ease certain daily activities.
Critical in the treatment process is the proper documentation and evaluation of a patient’s progress. To observe and write down the details of the patients’ progress and distribute this information back to the therapists is the duty of an OT assistant. Periodically, the therapist will examine these reports, evaluate the patient’s condition at that point, and adjust the treatment if needed. OTAs often handle administrative and clerical duties as well, but depending on their work environment these duties may be carried out by professional therapy aides. They typically answer phone calls, maintain equipment, book appointments, and file insurance claims. OTAs usually work in hospitals, senior homes, physician clinics, occupational workshops, and special schools.
Education, Training and Certification
A student must go to an accredited community college or technical school that offers the OTA program in order to become a Professional therapy assistant. The program is 2 years long and graduates are considered to have earned an Associate’s degree. The 2-year occupational therapy assistant programs include both classroom and clinical fieldwork. The hands-on training component provides them with practical experiences. Occupational therapist “bridge” education programs are available for qualifying occupational therapy assistants to advance further in their career.
Occupational therapy assistants are required in most states to be licensed before they can practice. One must complete the 2-year Associate degree program and pass an exam in order to become licensed.
Occupational therapy assistants do not require any certification to practice. However, the title COTA (certified occupational therapy assistant) can only be given to an individual that has successfully passed the written exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. For those who want to take this exam are required to complete the accredited programs.
Factors that Affects the Salary of Occupation Therapy Assistant
– Experience – this is one of the most crucial factors that affect the assistant salary. More experienced therapists usually get a higher salary in comparison to those who are new to the profession. Newcomers will begin with an average salary of $30,000 per year but as they gain more experience, annual salary of over $50,000 is not uncommon.
– Education – even if certification is not required in all states, many employers, however, look for OTAs who are certified. There are currently over 300 accredited programs in the United States, graduates of these programs will often start with a higher salary.
– Location – this is also very important in determining an occupational therapy assistant’s salary. Salaries can differ from State to State. Nevada is the highest paying state for an OTA due to a higher demand as a result of the booming casino industry.
– Employer – working for different employers will result in different salaries. Home health care services, employment services, nursing care facilities, offices of other health practitioners, and specialty hospitals are the top paying employers in this occupation.
Average Annual Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary
The average annual salary of a therapist is $52,150. This is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $33,750 and the top 10% makes over $71,960. Their average hourly salary is $25.07. The lowest 10% makes $16.22 while the top 10% makes $71,960.
Highest Paying Cities:
1. El Paso, TX: $72,690
2. San Diego, CA: $70,100
3. Arlington, TX: $68,530
4. Las Vegas, NV: $68,430
5. New Brunswick, NJ: $67,550
Highest Paying States:
1. Nevada: $68,240
2. Texas: $64,090
3. New Jersey: $62,560
4. California: $61,010
5. Maryland: $59,560
State with Highest Employment Level:
4. New York