How to Become an Occupational Therapist Aide

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Occupational therapy is a medical discipline that provides care to individuals, groups, and facilities to promote overall health and well-being and help individuals perform essential tasks of daily living. Occupational therapist aides are trained workers that provide support services to occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.

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What does an occupational therapist aide do?

Occupational therapist aides provide the necessary support to occupational therapy professionals. They prepare treatment environments and assemble the required equipment for treatment procedures. They also organize materials and clean up and maintain equipment. Occupational aides provide encouragement to patients and help attend to their physical needs. They observe the attendance, progress, and accomplishments of patients and record the information. They assist occupational therapy assistants with the planning, implementation, and administration of therapy programs. Occupational therapist aides are often responsible for a variety of clerical duties such as answering the telephone, scheduling appointments, filling out paperwork such as insurance forms and activity logs, and stocking and reordering necessary supplies.

What kind of training does an occupational therapist aide need?

Occupational therapist aides must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Most occupational therapist aides receive most of their training on the job, but some complete formal training programs in occupational therapy. They often complete courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and occupational therapy. Many occupational therapy aides volunteer before applying for paid positions to gain practical experience in the field. New occupational therapist aides typically start out shadowing experienced aides to learn the skills and procedures of their employers. They gradually move on to more advanced independent duties as they gain the necessary experience and skills.

What are the prospects for a career as an occupational therapist aide?

Employment of occupational therapist aides is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 30% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for occupational therapy services will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be very good especially for occupational therapist aides that have formal training. Occupational therapist aides that have extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace occupational therapist aides that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do occupational therapists aides make?

As of January 2010, occupational therapist aides with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $9.96 and $13.31 (2).

A career as an occupational therapist aide is a great choice for people with a strong interest in occupational therapy and providing support services to occupational therapy professionals. Occupational therapist aides must have a basic understanding of occupational therapy procedures. They must have good clerical skills and be able to organize equipment and appointments. They must be patient, responsible, and have the ability to follow directions. Occupational therapist aides must have excellent communication and ability to work as part of team.

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