Can you see yourself as an occupational therapy assistant? As one of the most in-demand jobs in the medical field, there is actually a lot more to love about this specialty beyond its stellar pay and promising employment outlook. Here are 10 of the biggest reasons OTAs show up to work with a smile.
If you know even a little about occupational therapy assisting, you know this is no desk job. Many OTAs work with patients to improve upon the ease and efficacy of daily tasks like eating, getting dressed, using a computer, or having a conversation. When a patient reaches a new milestone, their OTA is there to congratulate them. Relationships are a huge part of the work, and it’s highly rewarding to watch your patients as they gain new skills big and small.
While OTAs do have quite a bit in common with PTAs and other medical therapists, OTAs do a great deal of their work outside the realm of bettering physical range of motion and bodily function. They work with their patients to figure out how they can find success at work, school, home, and in their day-to-day relationships. This makes the patient-provider relationship one that grows more special with time. Being an OTA is really about seeing your patients do today what they thought they couldn’t do yesterday in all areas of life.
Many students entering into OTA programs know exactly which populations they want to work with once they are credentialed and ready to start their careers. Other aspiring OTAs bring an open mind to their studies and find their true passion over the course of educational trial and error. But one thing is certain: OTAs know no lack of diversity when it comes to the types of people they’ll get to work with out in the field. Most OTAs work with geriatric populations, as the number of baby boomers who rely on them for care is growing. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a wealth of pediatric and adult jobs out there as well. The field is full of possibilities.
Occupational therapists set a course of treatment for their patients, but OTAs are the ones that lead them through each and every step of the journey. While there are tons of helpful tools at an OTA’s disposal, a lot of the job comes down to creativity. This gives you the chance to shine. Every patient is different, and so are their needs. As their OTA, you get to figure out exactly what works best in the moment to carry out the prescribed course of treatment. No two days will be the same, which is a delightful part of the job for anyone with a creative mind.
The relationship between OTAs and OTs is a very symbiotic one. While you will be working with patients hands-on to make sure they are meeting their goals in a timely manner, you won’t be alone. Having the oversight of the OT serves as a great balancing point for the OTA role. When in doubt, you’ll have a collaborator on hand to help shape the way you’re giving treatment. Two heads are better than one, and you’ll always have help.
Every year, there are new innovations to help people with differing abilities do the things they need in order to live a full and happy life. From tools that adapt motor function for accomplishing regular tasks to new ways to get around and be mobile, an OTA’s work is rarely complete without some sort of help from their tools. Now that most people have smartphones, more OTAs are using occupational therapy apps that help their patients, too.
OTAs are never short of new work environments. Their typical workplaces include in-home care, nursing homes, speech pathology centers, special needs adult living centers, children’s hospitals, schools, and more. Many OTAs change locations throughout their careers, giving them a well-rounded understanding of their field. OTAs have enough options that they can move around until they find their perfect professional fit.
No one wants to spend time and resources on a degree for a job they won’t be able to land once they’re out in the field. Thankfully, OTAs are in higher demand than ever. The American Occupational Therapy Association found that around 80 percent of OTAs find a job within only six months of graduating from their program. An estimated 43,200 OTAs will be hired between 2012 and 2022. Could you be among them?
A lot of high-paying jobs require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, which means a large amount of financial resources up front before money-making career years can balance it out. This is not the case with OTAs, who can make a great salary with only an associate degree. The expected salary for OTAs is generally between $42,000 and $71,000 annually. Better yet? OTA salaries have been on the rise for years.
The job prospects and salary are definitely a pro, but most people who seek out an OTA career do it for the rewarding nature of the job. It’s one full of little successes and giant accomplishments, and any OTA will tell you that they have both challenging times and unforgettable moments with their patients.