Occupational therapist assistants help occupational therapists provide rehabilitation to patients with mental, physical and emotional disabilities. An associate degree from an accredited postsecondary program is generally needed. About 40 states regulate the profession by mandating licensing, certification or registration. The National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy proves a national certifying exam.
Occupational therapist assistants require the strength to lift patients and otherwise assist them. Bending, kneeling and standing are part of the job. Many assistants work part-time at several facilities or on evenings and weekends for the convenience of patients. They earn a median £15.7 per hour, with a range of £10.40 to £21.30. Those that work full-time make a median salary of £32,662 annually, with a range of £21,677 to £44,492. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2009.
The employers that hire the largest number of occupational therapist assistants are the offices of health care practitioners, which include the facilities of occupational therapists. The sector comprises 32 per cent of the 26,680 jobs and pays £16.70 per hour or £34,729 per year. The best-paying employers are home health care services, which send both therapists and their assistants to patients' residences. They pay £19.0 or £39,637, but only offer less than five per cent of the jobs.
The state with the best employment for occupational therapist assistants is Ohio, with a concentration of 0.47 jobs per 1,000 workers. Pay here is close to the median at £16.0 hourly or £33,338 per year. The state with the best paying positions is Texas, with wages at £20.5 or £42,835, but with a job concentration of only 0.18 per 1,000. For cities, the one with the most employment is Gadsden, Alabama, with a concentration of 1.46 per 1,000. Wages here are near the median at £15.80 or £32,981. The best-paying positions are in El Paso, Texas, at £23.6 or £49,127, but with only 60 positions.
The BLS sees available jobs for occupational therapist assistants increasing at 30 per cent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. This should produce a much faster than average growth in compensation. The demand comes from the growing elderly population, who will need occupational therapy. Many therapists are also employing assistants to increase effectiveness and to save on the cost of hiring additional therapists.