Smiling brunette woman with glasses and a navy Joyce University polo shirt on a blue background. Text overlay says qualities of a great occupational therapist assistant.

6 Qualities of a Great Occupational Therapist Assistant

Gwen Davis-Barrios
Reviewed by Dr. Crystal Young
Mar 26, 2024

Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) careers have a great salary, excellent job outlook, and lots of growth opportunities. You’ll also go home every day knowing you made a difference in someone’s life, making this career emotionally rewarding. If you’re considering an OTA career, odds are that you’re a naturally caring person. Here are six qualities of an OTA that set them up for success.

1. Patience

Patience is a core value and important skill for OTAs. Everyone you work with as an OTA will struggle to complete activities of daily living. Your clients may find parts of therapy difficult, or they may be frustrated that they need help in the first place. It’s critical that you, the OTA, remember that they’re doing a hard thing and stay patient with their struggles.

Even on days when everyone comes into therapy in a good mood, your OTA daily routine may include some monotonous or challenging tasks. Staying patient with your work and clients will help you succeed as an OTA.

2. Compassion

In OT, compassion is key. Like we said above, your patients will experience daily challenges. Successful OTAs compassionately see everyone they work with as whole people, with both struggles and strengths.

Many OTAs work with children and seniors. Both pediatric and geriatric clients may struggle to communicate their needs or feel upset by the gap between what they want to accomplish and their current abilities. Compassionate OTAs connect with each of their patients on an individual basis and recognize where they’re coming from.

3. Confidence

Confidence is another important OTA personality trait. That’s where we come in. At Joyce, you’ll learn to be a highly competent OTA with comprehensive experience and knowledge. Our OTA curriculum is designed to cover the entire human lifespan and various approaches to OT, then prepare you for the NBCOT exam and licensure. Joyce graduates know what they’re doing and are ready to jump into the workforce.

Once you develop OT skills, you must confidently own your expertise. Being both competent and confident will make your clients trust you and help you land great OTA jobs.

4. Communication

Excellent OTAs have outstanding communication skills and know that communication is a two-way street. As an OTA you need to be able to clearly explain medical terminology and model therapeutic exercises, but you also need to listen to your patients and understand their experiences. Your patients may tell you their struggles, and you’ll need to listen attentively with them and your supervising OT to figure out the root of the problem and a solution. People with great communication skills thrive as OTAs.

Not only will you need to communicate with your patients and supervising OTs, your OTA career will require you to collaborate with other professionals including speech therapists, art therapists, nurses, teachers, and doctors. Communication is a top quality in a great OTA.

5. Creativity

The best OTAs have creative personalities and can find ways to turn tasks into games. This is especially important for OTAs who work with children, seniors, and disabled patients.

Supervising OTs also love hiring and working with creative OTAs. Great OTAs have creative personalities and can problem solve when they encounter curveballs during their day-to-day work. Opportunities to creatively take initiative make many OTAs love their work.

6. Determination

Like with any career, there will be hard days as an OTA. Some days even the best OTAs come home exhausted — helping patients with physical, mental, and emotional challenges can be intense. The mark of a great OTA is the passion and determination to keep making a difference, even when it’s hard. Determination is a crucial personal characteristic for OTAs. After all, the best things in life take effort.

There’s also a great need for determined, empathetic men in the OT world. Nearly 83% of OTAs are women, which means that the field lacks gender diversity. Breaking into an industry where you’re in the minority takes grit, but it’s worth it for a fulfilling career that makes people’s lives better.

If you see some of these qualities in yourself, you have what it takes to make a difference as an OTA. And if you want to develop these qualities, we’re here to help. Joyce University’s accredited OTA associate’s program will prepare you with both knowledge and experience, so you can excel as an OTA. In just five semesters you can finish ready to take the NBCOT exam, qualify for licensure, and dive into a meaningful career.

OTA Program

Learn More


Learn More

Apply Now

Request Info