Becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant

Career Plan: a step by step approach…

Occupational therapy assistants carry out rehabilitative treatment plans under the supervision of licensed occupational therapists. The job requires an associate’s degree. The following tips can help you get started.

Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Resources…

  1. Take college prep classes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends courses in biology and health. Your first year of college will be heavy in science classes like anatomy and physiology and medical terminology.

  2. Get some health care experience. Job shadowing will give you a sense of what occupational therapy assistants actually do on the job. Volunteering will give you additional competencies and help you make connections out in the field. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) recommends contacting rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, or school districts about volunteer opportunities. You generally need at least six months of solid commitment to use a supervisor as a reference when applying for work or school.

  3. Research educational programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Complete program admission requirements; these may be separate from the general college admission process. Psychology, anatomy and physiology, and composition may be prerequisites for the professional OTA program. There may be an admission test as well.

  4. Take advantage of academic and professional opportunities at your college. Consider becoming a member of your state association of AOTA and attending the student conference. Treat field experience opportunities as job interviews – they could lead to future employment.

  5. Fulfill licensing requirements (if applicable). Consider becoming certified by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy.

  6. Find a position. The American Occupational Therapy Association has a Job Link site. Also check your State Association website – and don’t forget to network. The AOTA site has a PDF manual with tips about landing that first job. It’s designed primarily for OTs, but some material is applicable to OTAs as well.

Personality Traits: Occupational therapy assistants have caring, people-centered dispositions, are able to follow directions and guidelines, and work well in team situations.