How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant
What is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?
An occupational therapy assistant is a person who works with occupational therapists to support patients with their everyday activities they may have trouble with. OTAs help clients reconnect with their occupations through a holistic approach which takes into consideration all of the clients’ needs.
One of the benefits of going into the occupational therapy field is the many career paths that are available to you, and OT specialties for ever passion, such as aged care, mental health centres, paediatrics and many more. Using specialised equipment, occupational therapy assistants can support their clients with becoming independent despite their disability or disease.
The main difference between an occupational therapist and an occupational therapy assistant is that the former is qualified to diagnose and prescribe treatments. At the same time, the latter can only help the patient directly under the guidance of the therapist themselves.
An occupational therapy assistant can find themselves working in a variety of locations, from rehabilitation centres to mental health hospitals to schools to private practice offices.
Typically, an occupational therapy assistant works 40 hours per week and may have to work on weekends, depending on the workplace.
The job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is looking strong for the future, with an increase of 20,000 positions by 2023. The job growth is believed to increase consistently.
STRONG FUTURE GROWTH
Increase of 20,000 positions by 2023.
Occupational therapy assistants in Australia earn $23.94 per hour on average or between:
Qualities and Skills You Should Have to be an OTA
Strong communication skills
Good stamina / physical strength
Strong motivating skills
Strong interpersonal skills
Active listening skills
Education You Need for This Role
Unlike occupational therapists, an occupational therapy assistant does not have to complete a master’s degree. However, you will need to finish high school and tertiary coursework, generally through TAFE. While not essential, having some experience with biology, psychology, and general physiology and anatomy will help you understand the material better.
Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance
A common qualification is the Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance, which can be completed entirely online – although you will need to complete at least 120 hours of placement. This includes working with at least three different clients in occupational therapy programs.
The Certificate IV is very flexible: the material can be learnt in 15-20 minute segments. It also includes a simulated clinic where you can explore and become familiar with the work environment, along with forums designed to support you with all your questions. The course will provide you with 24 months to finish, though you can always finish up sooner if that works for you.
It does have various entry requirements, however:
Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance
Another qualification that will give you a head start in this field is the Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance, which will teach you basic medical terminology and understanding of the relevant infection prevention and control policies. It aims to refine your ability to communicate with both your co-workers and your patients, which is crucial for an assistant, especially since you’ll be relying on an occupational therapist for guidance. It requires you to complete 80 hours of work placement along with the online education. You will be assessed through:
You’ll need to complete this certificate within a twelve month time frame.
Fewer entry requirements are needed than the previous course mentioned. In fact, there are no formal entry requirements, other than being at least sixteen years old.
Pursuing a role as an occupational therapy assistant guarantees you a fulfilling career. If you’re ready for a job that will challenge you, reward you and allow you to help a wide range of people, take your first steps today.