Occupational therapy technicians assist occupational therapists with tasks including patient rehabilitation, stretching education and record administration. Occupational therapy technicians may also be referred to as occupational therapy assistants or aides. Occupational therapy techs generally begin by completing a 2-year degree in the field, such as an Associate of Applied Science. Some may choose to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Science with a concentration in occupational therapy assistant technology.
Because of the interactive nature of the occupational therapy assistant field, most degree programs include some hands-on, clinical experiences. This practical experience is valuable to employers who seek candidates who have dealt directly with patients. Students may visit local occupational therapy clinics or engage in semester or summer internships.
Most employers seek out occupational therapy technicians who hold associate's degrees in the field. Some techs may only have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training.
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant Technology
The Associate of Science (A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant Technology introduces students to a variety of related topics. Some clinical fieldwork may be included in the curriculum. Students may study such topics as:
- Dynamics of movement
- Therapeutic intervention
- Basic human anatomy
Bachelor of Science in Applied Health Sciences
Many Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Applied Health Science degree programs offer students the chance to concentrate their course of study in occupational therapy assistant technology. General education coursework rounds out the curriculum. These are 4-year undergraduate programs that offer students coursework in subjects like:
- Human motion analysis
- Exercise physiology
- Physical dysfunction treatment
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupational therapy assistants and aides have a much faster than average projected job growth of 40% predicted for 2014-2024. As of May 2015, these professionals made an average annual salary of $58,340.
Licenses and Certifications in Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy assistants can voluntarily become certified by The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (www.nbcot.org). This involves passing a certification exam administered by the organization. Certified assistants earn the title of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Licensing requirements differ by state.
Continuing Education Information
Most states require certified and licensed occupational therapy assistants to maintain their certification by enrolling in relevant continuing education courses. Related classes may be found at local universities or organized through local clinics.
A variety of workshops are available to occupational therapists and their technicians. Many seminars are designed to keep technicians up to date on current techniques and technology. Workshops may be available on topics like hand therapy, home modification, sensory integration, and vision rehab.
Occupational therapy techs can receive the required education to work through both associate's and bachelor's level programs. To improve employment possibilities, or to fulfill a requirement in some states, techs may become certified or licensed.