The question may be straightforward, but the answer to is occupational therapy assistant a good career choice? is not a simple yes or no. It depends on the type of person and what you’re looking for. OTA is not for everyone; you need good people skills, a mind for creative problem solving, and be self-motivated to help others.
If you’re looking to jumpstart your healthcare career, then occupational therapy should definitely be on your short list of careers. We can help you figure out if OTA is a good career choice for you depending on how you answer the following questions.
Is OTA a Good Career Choice for Me?
1. Are you the type of person who gets personal satisfaction out of helping others?
Did you answer ‘yes’? OTA could be a good career for you.
Occupational therapy assistants work one-on-one with patients, helping them either re-learn or learn for the first time how to accomplish a daily task. If you boil it all down, an OTAs basic job function is to help people.
2. Are you looking for a quick way to get into healthcare?
Did you answer ‘yes’? You should definitely consider OTA as a career.
Most occupational therapy assistant programs have low barriers to entry, meaning that you can get started as soon as you want. The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc (AOTA) only requires OTAs to have a two-year, associate’s degree to take the licensure exam.
St. Catherine University’s online OTA program in Virginia is only 16 months, which lets students get started in the field even faster.
3. Are you looking for a healthcare job that is in demand?
Did you answer ‘yes’? That’s smart. You should be paying attention to job demand.
Occupational therapy assistants are in demand—and that demand is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an employment growth of 43% by 2022. To put that in perspective, the healthcare industry is only projected to grow 10.8% by 2022, making OTA one of the fastest growing healthcare occupations.
4. Do you want to earn a respectable salary?
Did you answer ‘yes’? Of course you do. Who doesn’t?
In 2012, the BLS released salary data for occupational therapy assistants according to their employment environment. On the higher side, OTAs that work in home healthcare services can earn $57,840 annually. On the lower site, OTAs that work in educational services can earn $43,330 annually.
5. Do you want a low-stress career?
Did you answer ‘yes’? Smart answer. Stress can have both psychological and physical effects on your health.
Occupational therapy is actually identified as one of the least stressful healthcare careers you can go into. With growing demand and satisfactory compensation, occupational therapists and OTAs are able to keep their stress levels in check.
Making the Decision to Become an OTA
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then occupational therapy assistant is a good career choice for you. But before you make your decision, make sure you fully understand what you’re about to become.
What Isn’t OTA?
OTA Is Not Physical Therapy
Occupational therapy and physical therapy often get confused, however they are very different. Physical therapy is for patients who are trying to get back a capability they have lost. Occupational therapy is for patients who will never be able to function like they once did and now need to learn how to do things differently.
OTA Does Not Provided Full Recovery
Because occupational therapy helps patients re-learn how to do something, in a sense, patients never fully recover. They learn how to work with their limitations to be able to accomplish the same task, but it won’t be done the same way they’re used to.
Occupational Therapy Assistants are Not the Boss
OTAs work under the direction of a registered Occupational Therapist (OTR), similar to how a nurse works with a doctor. OTAs receive a treatment plan from the OTR and then carry out the plan through one-on-one interaction with the patient. OTAs then follow-up with the OTR and report on the patient’s progress.
What Is OTA?
Occupational therapy is a patient’s last chance to be self-sufficient. They can’t function like they used to, so if they want to remain independent, they need to learn how to do things differently.
OTRs and OTAs have to find creative ways for patients to cope, often using everyday household items. For Example:
- You can wrap a towel around a handle with duct tape to make it easier for someone with weaker hands to grip.
- You can place a chair near the dryer so your patients with weaker hearts don’t have to bend over to fold their laundry.
- You can move pots and pans to be either on or above the kitchen counter making it easier for patients with weaker knees won’t have to lift heavy object.
- You can put brightly colored tape on the edge of stairs so patients with poor eyesight can see step down with confidence.
How to Get Started in OTA
If you’ve decided that the answer to ‘is occupational therapy assistant a good career choice’ is “yes” for you, then your next step is to contact an admissions advisor. St. Catherine University’s OTA advisors will work with you every step of the admissions process and can answer any questions you may have about the program.