How to Get a Job as an Occupational Therapy Assistant
There is a plethora of job opportunities in this line of work, but all the posted positions might not be labeled as “occupational therapy assistants.” Stoffel gives the example of her first job in an elder care facility where she designed activities for residents. “It was a job that wasn’t billed as an OT assistant, but it offered enriched activity programing for people living in this long-term care setting,” she says.
Candidates who have worked in an occupational therapy office or another health care setting will have a leg up in the job market. Occupational therapy offices may also seek more assistants to help treat patients in the next decade in response to health care reform. The BLS reports that the number of patients seeking occupational therapy services may grow, since more Americans will be able to cover costs with insurance.
|Upward Mobility||fair Average|
|Stress Level||poor Above Average|
What is the Job Like?
Some occupational therapy assistants start their day as early as 6:30 a.m. when their patient wakes up. Others work part time in hospitals and may only need to report to work for a few hours when appointments are scheduled. Unlike some jobs in health care, especially physicians and nurses, OT assistants typically are not on-call 24/7 and can choose to work hours that fit their schedule. “Having been an occupational therapist for 36 years, I have found that depending on what’s happening in my life, I’ve been able to find a position that needs me when I’m most available,” Stoffel says.
Daily responsibilities and the stress of the job vary based on the work environment. For instance, an OT assistant who works with patients who have traumatic brain injuries will likely find the job more stressful than an OT assistant whose day involves taking a stroll in the park with a patient or instructing a cooking class. So while stressful situations can arise, Stoffel points out there is a flip side: You get paid to organize fun activities and help people appreciate the “joys of everyday life.”
Last updated by Stephanie Steinberg.