Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.
Occupational therapy assistants and aides work primarily in occupational therapists’ offices, in hospitals, and in nursing care facilities. Occupational therapy assistants and aides spend much of their time on their feet, setting up equipment and, in the case of assistants, working with patients.
How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Aide
Occupational therapy assistants need an associate’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program. In most states, occupational therapy assistants must be licensed. Occupational therapy aides typically have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Employment of occupational therapy assistants and aides is projected to grow 40 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities.
Job Trends for Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
This occupation supported 38,700 jobs in 2012 and 41,800 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 8.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 41.1% in 2022 to 54,600 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 41,800, compared with an observed value of 41,800, 0.0% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 43.7% in 2024 to 58,700 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 57,700 jobs for 2024, 1.7% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation.