Occupational Therapy Assistants
Assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with state laws, assist in development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, direct activity programs, and document the progress of treatments. Generally requires formal training.
Sample of reported job titles: Acute Care Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA), Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant/Licensed (COTA/L), Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant-Licensed (COTA-L), Licensed Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA/L), Licensed Occupational Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA), Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA), School Based Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Select therapy activities to fit patients’ needs and capabilities.
- Monitor patients’ performance in therapy activities, providing encouragement.
- Instruct, or assist in instructing, patients and families in home programs, basic living skills, or the care and use of adaptive equipment.
- Maintain and promote a positive attitude toward clients and their treatment programs.
- Observe and record patients’ progress, attitudes, and behavior and maintain this information in client records.
- Aid patients in dressing and grooming themselves.
- Implement, or assist occupational therapists with implementing, treatment plans designed to help clients function independently.
- Communicate and collaborate with other healthcare professionals involved with the care of a patient.
- Evaluate the daily living skills or capacities of physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabled clients.
- Attend continuing education classes.
- Report to supervisors, verbally or in writing, on patients’ progress, attitudes, and behavior.
- Alter treatment programs to obtain better results if treatment is not having the intended effect.
- Work under the direction of occupational therapists to plan, implement, or administer educational, vocational, or recreational programs that restore or enhance performance in individuals with functional impairments.
- Teach patients how to deal constructively with their emotions.
- Demonstrate therapy techniques, such as manual or creative arts or games.
- Perform clerical duties, such as scheduling appointments, collecting data, or documenting health insurance billings.
- Assemble, clean, or maintain equipment or materials for patient use.
- Attend care plan meetings to review patient progress and update care plans.
- Order any needed educational or treatment supplies.
- Transport patients to and from the occupational therapy work area.
- Design, fabricate, or repair assistive devices or make adaptive changes to equipment or environments.
- Assist educational specialists or clinical psychologists in administering situational or diagnostic tests to measure client’s abilities or progress.
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- Accounting software — Billing software; Bookkeeping software; Fifth Walk BillingTracker; Financial record software
- Action games — BrainTrain SmartDriver
- Calendar and scheduling software — Scheduling software
- Computer based training software — BrainTrain IVA+Plus; Language arts educational software; Math educational software
- Data base user interface and query software — Database software ; dBASE; FileMaker Pro; Microsoft Access
- Device drivers or system software — Screen reader software
- Electronic mail software — Email software; Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Medical software — BrainTrain Captain’s Log; Laboratory information system LIS; TheraClin Systems iMAPR; Visual Health Information VHI PC-Kits (see all 7 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Microsoft Windows
- Optical character reader OCR or scanning software — Text scanning software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Voice recognition software
- Web page creation and editing software — Facebook
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
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- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
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- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Develop patient therapy programs.
- Encourage patients during therapeutic activities.
- Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
- Teach basic living or other adaptive skills to patients or caregivers.
- Maintain medical records.
- Record vital statistics or other health information.
- Teach medical procedures or medical equipment use to patients.
- Implement therapeutic programs to improve patient functioning.
- Assist patients with daily activities.
- Confer with other professionals to plan patient care.
- Administer screening tests to determine abilities or treatment needs.
- Attend educational events to update medical knowledge.
- Communicate patient status to other health practitioners.
- Prepare medical reports or documents.
- Perform clerical work in medical settings.
- Process medical billing information.
- Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
- Teach medical procedures to healthcare personnel.
- Clean medical equipment.
- Maintain medical equipment or instruments.
- Prepare medical instruments or equipment for use.
- Inventory medical supplies or equipment.
- Move patients to or from treatment areas.
- Make patient-assistive devices or device models.
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- Contact With Others — 86% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 83% responded “Extremely important.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 78% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 72% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 63% responded “Every day.”
- Electronic Mail — 76% responded “Every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 77% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 56% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 40% responded “Very important results.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 58% responded “Some freedom.”
- Time Pressure — 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Spend Time Standing — 58% responded “More than half the time.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 77% responded “Some freedom.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 52% responded “Extremely important.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 36% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 37% responded “Extremely important.”
- Deal With External Customers — 54% responded “Extremely important.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 38% responded “Very important.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 37% responded “More than half the time.”
- Telephone — 44% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 37% responded “More than half the time.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 36% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 34% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Level of Competition — 39% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Spend Time Kneeling, Crouching, Stooping, or Crawling — 46% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 27% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 26% responded “Very serious.”
- Spend Time Keeping or Regaining Balance — 39% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 29% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Letters and Memos — 30% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
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|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: SR Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
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- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
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- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$30.26 hourly, $62,940 annual|
|Employment (2020)||43,300 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Much faster than average (15% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||7,800|
|Top industries (2020)||
Health Care and Social Assistance
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- American Physical Therapy Association
- National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Occupational therapy assistants and aides
- Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International
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