An occupational therapy aide supports the occupational therapist and/or the occupational therapist assistant in their job to help patients recover or improve their muscle and motor functions after an injury or illness. They do not work directly with the patient and is overseen by the occupational therapist. They help set up equipment and do various clerical duties.
Watch a video to learn what an occupational therapy aide does.
How to Become a Occupational Therapy Aide
You typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Prior work-related experience in healthcare would be helpful and a CPR and basic life support (BLS) certificate would be advantageous to secure a position. Normally, on-the-job training is given that can last from a few weeks up to a few months.
Job Description of a Occupational Therapy Aide
An occupational therapy aide is not typically directly involved with a patient, but performs activities of support under the supervision of an occupational therapists. They would prepare the patient’s treatment area and assemble or set up the therapy equipment. At times they may provide assistance to a therapist or assistant with contact guard or safety measures when patients are being transferred from wheelchairs, beds, therapy mats, or medical equipment.
When needed aides transport clients via wheelchair from one place of treatment to another of back to their room. They also clean all areas and equipment after the therapy session to prevent infection and transfer of diseases. He or she performs clerical tasks such as filling out insurance forms, scheduling appointments, checking inventory, and answering phones when needed. An occupational therapy aide can be found working in offices, hospitals, care facilities, or some are employed in social assistance or educational services.
Free Teacher and Student Resources
The American Occupational Therapy Association has information on the Workforce Trends in Occupational Therapy (link opens in a new tab) that you may find useful when researching if a career in Occupational Therapy is right for you.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Career Video Transcript
People who struggle to feed themselves, get dressed, learn and work, depend on occupational therapy assistants and aides to help them reach their goals. These professionals help patients gain skills and learn new ways to perform activities of daily living, whether at home, school, or work. Occupational therapy (or OT assistants) carry out treatment plans made by occupational therapists, treating patients from young children to older adults. They guide patients in the use of special equipment and teach new ways to approach tasks such as moving from bed to a wheelchair. They document each step of patients’ progress and consult frequently with the OT.
Occupational therapy aides keep treatment areas clean, equipped, and ready for the next patient. They assist patients in moving to and from treatment areas, schedule appointments, and help patients fill out billing and insurance forms. Most assistants and aides work in occupational therapists’ offices, hospitals, and nursing care facilities. Both spend many hours a day on their feet, setting up equipment, bending, and lifting patients when necessary. Evening and weekend hours may be required.
Occupational therapy assistants need an associate’s degree from an accredited program and in most states, a license. Aides typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and are trained on the job. Helping restore meaningful activity to the lives of their patients provides a sense of purpose to OT aides and assistants.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides.
National Center for O*NET Development. 31-2012.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.