Occupational therapist aides typically receive most of their training on the job. As a result, the typical minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma which included courses in biology, chemistry, physics, social science, and health. If you are interested in the occupational therapist assistant career path, you should be prepared for courses in anatomy, an introduction to health care, pediatrics, physiology, adult physical disabilities, and more through an accredited associate's degree program.
In addition to the associate's degree coursework, aspiring occupational therapist assistants should be prepared for hands-on instruction through a supervised clinical rotation.
Career Choices After Trade School
You can become an occupational therapy assistant, helping injured workers learn to compensate for lost skills, teaching people with learning disabilities to survive on their own, providing rehabilitation activities and exercises, monitoring activities to ensure they're performed correctly, and recording patient progress. Or you can become an occupational therapy aide and do more clerical tasks like scheduling appointments, answering the phone, and filling out insurance forms.
Another option is to work in physical therapy. Physical therapy assistants help therapists with a patient's treatment, doing mobility exercises, massages, ultrasounds, traction, paraffin baths, or electrical stimulation. Aides keep the area clean, prepare for a patient's therapy, and do clerical work.
Occupational therapy assistants earned a mean annual salary of $48,440 in 2008, while occupational therapy aides earned $29,580. Physical therapist assistants earned $46,300 and physical therapy aides earned $24,770.