Occupational Therapy Assistant

Job Description


The role of an occupational therapy assistant is to work with an occupational therapist to assist their patients in developing and recovering activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, driving and working.

Employment opportunities for this career are projected to increase 41 percent faster than the average growth rate of other occupations.




Occupational therapy assistants work with assistants to carry out activities, and work with clients to perform exercises based on a treatment plan that is devised through collaboration with an occupational therapist.

The occupational therapy assistant is responsible for monitoring their patient’s activities to make sure they are performing the tasks correctly, and to provide encouragement.

They document their patients’ progress for use by the occupational therapist. If the treatment regimen is not effective or the patient is not progressing as expected, the treatment program may be adjusted by the occupational therapist.

This revision of the treatment plan is usually done in the hopes that better results will be obtained. Occupational therapy assistants are also responsible for documenting the billing of the client’s health insurance provider.

There are a number of tasks occupational therapy assistants can handle and many specialty areas. Depending on the area of focus they are responsible for:

  • Working with children

  • Assisting children to master typical childhood activities

  • Helping children with learning, playing and growing

  • Working with students who have learning disabilities

  • Assisting students with behavioral problems

  • Assisting children with disabilities, such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy

  • Assist in the recovery from traumatic injuries

  • Work with stroke victims

  • Assist patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families

  • Working with patients suffering with mental health problems and their families

  • Assisting patients of all ages in learning or relearning activities of daily living

  • Helping patients learn the skills needed for a specific occupation




Physical Endurance

Must be able to be physical for many hours to help their patients as needed. They must be able to bend, twist, lift, crouch, kneel, push/pull, and the agility to move quickly and ensure patient safety.

Record Keeping

Must be able to collect and integrate patient histories to solve problems and develop treatments.

Emotional Stability

Must be able to handle the emotional stress of working with impaired patients in need of compassionate health care.


The ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.


Must be able to interact with patients and their families regardless of background.


Must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in injuries and determine causes and provide solutions.


Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.


Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.


They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.

Problem Solving

Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to autonomy.


Must work well with your hands and be nimble. You will be put in situations where physical therapy is a must.


Working Conditions


Occupational therapy assistants can find employment opportunities in private offices of occupational therapists, in hospitals, in nursing care facilities and in assisted living centers.

The nature of the work done by occupational therapy assistants require they spend much of their time on their feet during the day. They are generally busy setting up equipment and/or working with their patients.

The typical work schedules of occupational therapy assistants may include evening assignments and weekend hours.

This will depend on the facility and whether the occupational therapy assistant is a full-time or a part-time employee.

Many health care facilities and outpatient therapy centers offer evening and weekend hours in order to accommodate their patients’ personal schedules.




Salary Outlook