Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our Online OTA program overview page or contact us at (877) 223-2677.

Wondering where do occupational therapists work? There are many options available to those in the occupational therapy field including schools, assisted living facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and more. Learn how the OTA program at St. Kate’s can prepare you for your future career.

OTA with child in facility

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings. Whether it’s helping an elderly person continue to live at home through modified living situations and skills, or helping a child develop muscular strength to hold a pencil, occupational therapists determine treatment plans that occupational therapy assistants can help to implement.

For those in the occupational therapy field, treatment is tailored to each individual client, meaning OTAs must bring inventiveness to the table. However, you may still have questions like, “where do occupational therapists work?” and “what do occupational therapists do?”

Due to the many needs occupational therapy serves, you can find OTAs in several work environments, including hospitals, rehab centers, schools, nursing homes, retirement communities and more.

It’s also this demand for services that makes occupational therapy one of the fastest-growing areas in healthcare. In fact, the overall employment of occupational therapy assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While job outlook and a comfortable salary are absolutely benefits of an OTA career, one of the best things about being an OTA is that every day is different, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities.

While OTAs can work nearly anywhere their patients need them, we’ve put together a list of 8 common places OTAs work.

1. Assisted-Living Facilities and Retirement Communities

Assisted living is long-term care that includes housing, support, and healthcare, as needed.

It is designed for individuals who require limited assistance with instrumental activities of daily living such as meals, transportation and medication management as well as daily living tasks such as bathing and dressing.

OT student sitting at desk with elderly woman filling a pill divider

Occupational therapy can provide support to clients residing in assisted living facilities, helping them to continue with activities that make them happy and in their efforts to remain independent and to successfully age in place.

The American Occupational Therapy Association also notes occupational therapists can be instrumental in “giving recommendations for environmental modifications and can create programs to address community mobility, dementia management, low-vision needs, falls prevention and psychosocial well-being.”

2. Elementary and Secondary Schools

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants also work in schools, where they use meaningful activities to help children participate in tasks promoting physical and mental health and well-being.

With a focus on academics, play and leisure, social participation, self-care skills, and transition/work skills, OTs and OTAs employ activity and environmental analysis and modification with a goal of “reducing the barriers to participation.”

3. Home Healthcare Services

OTAs also work in their patient’s homes to help them live independently. OTAs provide many home services, including:

  • Addressing obstacles in diabetes management and establishing daily routines such as blood sugar monitoring, hygiene and foot care, meal planning and preparation, healthy coping strategies and physical activity.
  • Helping patients develop, healthy diets and exercise routines for a consistent lifestyle change OTs and OTAs also help define strategies for their clients to conserve energy and introduce physical activity and self-monitoring.
  • Helping create daily routines for medication adherence, self-management skills and stress management strategies to help with everyday challenges
student assisting man with pill containers

Occupational therapists can also help with behavioral health conditions as well as educating other caregivers on how to assist patients who have cognitive limitations to perform better and decrease agitation or confusion.

4. Hospitals

While patients recover from traumatic injuries or surgery in hospitals, OTAs can provide special assistance to complete daily tasks such as:

  • Bed mobility toileting and toilet hygiene
  • Functional mobility
  • Brushing teeth
  • Eating meals
  • Personal hygiene and grooming

These services are vital to patients as they recover and heal in the hospital setting.

5. Rehabilitation Centers

OTAs can work in the many different types of rehab centers that exist. OTAs may work in drug and alcohol rehab centers where they will help patients who have medical issues stemming from a substance abuse problem.

Substance abuse can cause chronic short-term memory loss and abstract thinking problems, similar to Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.

As a result, OTAs work with substance abuse patients on their daily living and recovery efforts, doing everything from helping patients make adaptations for everyday life skills to implementing routine exercises to improve their memory and cognitive thinking abilities.

student helping elderly woman with stretch bands on her feet

6. Therapists’ Offices

The knowledge and skill base of occupational therapy, which you’ll master through the Online OTA program at St. Catherine University, can also help treat individuals working toward mental health recovery. Occupational therapy can be beneficial in this setting in many different ways, including:

  • Creating coping strategies to help manage the impact of symptoms of illness on a patient’s life, including organizational skills and the ability to engage in activities
  • Addressing obstacles and building upon existing abilities to form healthy habits and routines to support a healthy lifestyle
  • Helping patients identify personal values, needs, and goals to enable informed, realistic decision making
  • Providing community-based resources, peer-facilitated groups, and other support options
  • Developing strategies to control chronic symptoms and recognize and respond to changes in mental health status
  • Supporting budgeting, planning, and facilitating other long-term goals for patients

7. Workplaces

Occupational therapy also plays a key role in promoting success in the workplace. OTs and OTAs can help in this setting by working with employers and employees to improve the communication, explore possible accommodations and overall fit between the individual, the job tasks and the environment.

They can also help adults and teens who have developmental and intellectual disabilities prepare for work and enter the workforce.

8. Higher Education Centers

Many colleges and universities will have health centers on campus available for students. Many have occupational therapy programs available for their students as well.

These centers need qualified OTAs who can assist OTs and other physicians to support students with disabilities.

You may also choose to work on the more academic side of the field by helping students receive accommodations where they are needed. This could mean anything from helping students complete assignments to creating a helpful testing environment to giving them the coping tools they need to succeed.

Earn Your Associate of Applied Science in OTA from St. Catherine University

OT student standing outside smiling

OTAs are a crucial component within the healthcare industry. If you enjoy helping others, want a fast-paced career, and are looking to begin a career in healthcare, the OTA program at St. Kate’s might be right for you.

Now that you have answered, “where do occupational therapists work?” are you interested in finding out how you can pursue an exciting career as an occupational therapy assistant? With three start dates each year, you can start working toward becoming an OTA sooner than you might think.

Contact us today, and an admissions counselor will reach out to discuss our Online OTA program.

outside shot of st. kate campus

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