Occupational Therapy Aides fall into the Social Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory®. The Strong Interest Inventory® Test has been used for nearly a century to help aspiring professionals find a fulfilling career based on their own personal and occupational interests and preferences. The Inventory categorizes careers into six theme codes and sheds light on individuals’ own characteristics, interests, and preferences, and uses these insights to match individuals to these Theme Code Categories. The Strong Interest Inventory® Social Theme Code Category centers on customer and personal service, with individuals who have strong verbal skills and the ability to empathize closely with the people they serve.
Occupational Therapy Aides are closely supervised by Occupational Therapists and are responsible for routine tasks regarding many aspects of patient care. They carefully observe patients progress, accomplishments, attitudes, and more. They maintain detailed records of their clients for therapists and other caregivers. In some cases, they may also make verbal or written reports directly to their supervisors. They also encourage patients to take care of themselves physically and mentally. They supervise patients completing or participating in art projects, reading time, and other activities. Occupational Therapy Aides may need to evaluate the ability of physically or mentally disabled individuals to function in certain environments, or to assess their ability to live independently without harming themselves or others. In some cases, Occupational Therapy Aides may also demonstrate therapy techniques. They may repair tools or assistive devices to best suit the needs of individuals who are in their care. Those who work with children may work closely with educational specialists or other professionals.
Occupational Therapy Aides need to have a basic familiarity with a wide range of software interfaces and functions, including accounting and billing software, scheduling software, and Microsoft Access. Other kinds of database and query software may be required. Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are vital, as are familiarity with medical software, particularly MEDITECH or Electronic Medical Record Software. Occupational Therapy Aides who work with visual or hearing-impaired patients or clients may also need to be comfortable with Braille translator or text scanning software, which can enable people with different abilities to communicate clearly and comfortably.
Occupational Therapy Aides require varying degrees of education, with some 31% holding an associate’s degree and 27% holding a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, Occupational Therapy Aides may hold either a bachelor’s degree, or may have completed some college courses without having earned a complete degree. In some cases, they may have completed a vocational degree instead. In addition, these professionals also complete significant on the job training as well, this foundation in the medical sciences and anatomy is critical to success in this field. In addition to formal education, Occupational Therapy Aides also need to have strong reasoning and problem-sensitivity skills, in addition to the ability to make quick, confident decisions, sometimes under significant time pressure. Because of the need for high levels of communication, they also need to be comfortable justifying and relaying their decisions to supervisors, peers, and subordinates alike. This is also why keeping careful records is so important, making strong writing and speaking skills necessary as well.
Occupational Therapy Aides salary is on average $27,800 nation-wide, though in larger or faster-growing states, such as Florida, Texas, California, and Oregon, state averages can be as high as $31,000 per year. The most highly-paid occupational therapy Aides can have salaries over $70,000 per year, depending on their state of residence, expertise, and amount of experience. Employment is also growing rapidly, projected to increase roughly 30% before 2020, and well over 40% in Tennessee, Kentucky and Colorado. While the actual number of jobs being added is under 100 in most states, nearly 300 jobs will be added in Texas, and over 3,000 will be added total across the country.
Below are some employment trends for Occupational Therapy Aides:
- Median Occupational Therapy Aides Salary: $13.37 hourly, $27,800 annually
- Employment: 9,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2024): Much faster than average (14% or higher)
- Projected job openings (2014-2024): 5,300
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org