Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
The American Occupational Therapy Association has designated April as Occupational Therapy month, so it seems only fitting to honor the occupational therapy assistants and the traveling occupational therapy assistants who are a big reason that occupational therapy works. In return, the occupational assistant with aspirations to become a therapist is in a beneficial position to learn the profession from the ground up.
Q: How long do I have to go to school to become an occupational therapy assistant?
A: You can earn an Occupational Therapy Assistant Associated of Applied Science in a 2 year program found at community colleges and technical schools. Another option is earning a 1-year certificate from an accredited academic institution. Both programs have required, supervised work in the field and must pass a licensing exam prior to practicing.
Q: What is the basic job description?
A: You will work with developmentally and physically challenged patients under the supervision of the OT, on exercises such as muscle strengthening, work and societal skills and chart patient progress.
Q: Where will I work?
A: OT assistant opportunities are pretty evenly divided between hospital, OT office, residential care and other settings such as the workplace and long term care facilities.
Q: How much can I expect to make?
A: The current average salary for an OT assistant is $51,000.
Q: What are the career opportunities like?
A: Excellent! Better than in most other fields, actually. Employment opportunities are projected to increase by a whopping 25 percent by 2016.
If this sounds like the career opportunity you’ve been looking for, start calling your local schools or research programs online. Add a love of seeing the country and gaining experience in a variety of clinical settings, and perhaps a career as a traveling occupational therapy assistant is what you’ve been searching for. The sky’s the limit!
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.