13 OTA Careers You’ve Probably Never Considered

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There are many options for OTA careers beyond an occupational therapy clinical. Alternative OTA careers can vary from schools to teaching to geriatric specialties. Discover the right OT field for you and how St. Kate’s can help you get started.

woman on floor with child playing with blocks

A career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) can be gratifying as you work daily to improve others’ quality of life. OTAs help people overcome physical, mental, and emotional barriers and enjoy life more fully. While many in occupational therapy choose to work in a clinic, this is certainly not the only option.

OTA careers range in flexibility, physical labor, and location. OT skills are highly valuable and allow you to make an impact beyond the traditional in-clinic setting. If you are passionate about occupational therapy but are looking for alternative OTA careers, you can explore many options after a few years as a general practitioner.

At St. Catherine University’s Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, you can earn your Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in OTA and become a certified OTA in as few as 16 months. This program offers online coursework, in-person labs, and clinicals to ensure you are prepared as you step into your chosen career path. Let’s explore 13 occupational therapy careers that, with some experience and advanced training, may be the right fit for you.

1. Home and Workplace Modifications Consultant

While most OTAs will work with patients to make necessary home and lifestyle modifications, prioritizing this with many issues to address throughout occupational therapy care can be challenging. This is where modification consultants come in. They have expertise in how to make patients’ homes and workplaces more adaptable to their needs. They will frequently make home visits, observe the environment, and speak with patients about their everyday difficulties. They will then help adapt the space to meet patient needs more effectively.

OT doing exercises with child patient

Did you know that environmental modifications are just one type of OT adaptation? Discover these six common occupational therapy interventions.

2. Ergonomic Consultant

Ergonomic consultants work primarily with companies and businesses to improve workflow and effectiveness. They can identify problem points within the workplace and consult on improvement options. This could mean adjusting the daily schedule for workers to include stretches or other routines, suggesting ergonomic equipment for workers encountering repetitive stress injuries, or even rearranging and replacing chairs for a more comfortable environment.

3. Assistive Technology Consultant

Technology supports our lives in many ways. Assistive technology is intentionally incorporating technology to support clients in their work, education, and homes to be more independent in their daily occupations. Assistive technology specialists work with individuals of various ages, using technology to provide solutions and access.

OT helping patient with arm brace

4. Independent Contractor

Becoming an independent contractor as an OTA is growing increasingly popular. Many occupational therapy facilities and clinics need seasonal help but are unable to offer full-time positions. This allows independent contractors to pick and choose where and when they want to work, signing only the contracts that fit their desired lifestyle. With this freedom often comes the uncertainty of where you will work next. However, the flexibility is worth the drawbacks for many OTAs.

5. Driving and Community Mobility Specialist

Driving can be essential to rehabilitation, as it restores independence and gives the patient an increased sense of autonomy and control. That is where driving and community mobility specialists step in. They help patients relearn driving skills and implement necessary modifications to ensure safety. Where the typical OTA cannot provide extensive assistance in this area, these specialized professionals can accurately assess driver readiness and do everything they can to help patients achieve it.

woman helping patient put on car seatbelt

Driving and community mobility specialists also analyze communities to help make moving around the area more suitable and ergonomic for people with all ability types. They make movement such as biking and walking more readily available and make driving or public transportation more conducive for practical use. This can improve the quality of life and overall health of these communities.

Do you have questions about becoming an OTA? Here are five common OTA questions answered.

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6. School System OTA

Schools have programs that assist students with special needs and disabilities, and a knowledgeable OTA is often necessary to ensure students truly succeed. School therapists identify students' specific needs and challenges and create systems and tools to support their learning process. These OTAs are often experienced in working with students with mental and cognitive special needs in addition to physical disabilities.

7. Recruiter

Occupational therapy recruiters specialize in matching OT professionals with establishments looking for a particular skill set. This is an ideal position for someone with a passion for occupational therapy and a desire to work in an administrative position. OT recruiters have excellent networking and interpersonal skills as they work to match employees and employers with the same goals in mind.

8. Geriatric OTA

The increasing geriatric population in recent years presents a need for talented OTAs with a particular interest in helping senior patients live comfortably and safely. These patients are more prone to accidents and have often already suffered multiple health complications. Geriatrics is a large field within occupational therapy, so if you know it is the right direction for you, many job opportunities will be available.

OT student helping elderly woman lift bag in kitchen

9. Seating Mobility Specialist

While seating mobility may seem like a hyper-specific OT specialty, the need for this profession is more widespread than you would think. Mobility is a core part of patient autonomy and independence at every stage of life. Comfortable seating or a functional wheelchair can be a significant problem for individuals seeking OT care. Seating mobility specialists can provide that in-depth, individualized care where needed.

10. Professional Development Educator

Overall, occupational therapy and healthcare constantly have new developments and methodologies. OT clinics often invite third-party companies to help their staff develop skills and grow in their career path to provide patients with the best care possible. These companies look for qualified individuals passionate about teaching and helping others succeed. These jobs are often flexible, and many have a remote option.

11. Pediatric OTA

While all OTAs require a specific skill set, a pediatric OTA is incredibly talented at working with children and adolescents. The goals of pediatric occupational therapy differ from those of adult OT. Pediatric OTAs develop treatments to help patients learn essential life skills, play safely, and succeed. These individuals are uplifting and understand how children respond differently to treatment than adults.

OTA working with child and toys on floor

12. Low Vision Specialist

While most OTAs may have experience working with blind and low-vision patients, there is an avenue for anyone interested in specializing in this type of occupational therapy. These OTAs work closely with a team of vision specialists to help patients adjust their lifestyles and environments. This may include changing lighting conditions, rearranging items to avoid injury, and helping educate patients on how to adapt through auditory and tactual methods.

13. Clinical Liaison

A clinical liaison is the go-between for patients and OT or specialized care facilities. They ensure the patient receives the best possible care for their specific needs. For example, patients require different types of care, but there are different levels of care as well. They may need an acute care facility or to visit an OT clinic independently weekly. A liaison makes this determination and advises accordingly.

Get Started Today with St. Kate's

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If any of these OTA careers interest you, you may be an excellent fit for St. Kate's OTA program. Our hybrid learning format combines online coursework with in-person labs and clinical rotations to give students the practical knowledge they need to earn their degree and succeed in the field.

Contact us today to learn more about applying for St. Kate’s OTA program. Complete the online form to speak with someone on our team of advisors who will help you take the first step.

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The Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy and OTA

Get answers to your questions about the field, about the OTA career path, and about St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program.

book with cover title: Occupational Therapy Assistant Explained