Occupational therapists and their assistants help people of all ages with physical, psychological or developmental disabilities achieve independence to lead productive and satisfying lives. People who need OT may include adolescents and/or adults with work-related injuries; arthritis, multiple sclerosis or similar diseases; substance abuse, eating or
other mental health disorders. People who have had a stroke or heart attack, a spinal cord or brain injury, or other serious accidents would also benefit from OT. In addition children with birth injury or trauma, learning or developmental disabilities often receive OT services, as do older adults experiencing Alzheimer’s disease or other aging-related cognitive or sensory decline.
• consult with treatment teams to develop individualized treatment programs.
• work with clients and their families, or significant others to evaluate clients’
physical and mental abilities.
• plan and provide intervention to clients.
• evaluate each client’s progress, attitude and behavior.
• design or certify special equipment to aid clients with disabilities.
• teach clients and their families how to adjust to home, work and social
• educate others about occupational therapy.
Occupational therapists may work in community settings, hospitals, schools or early intervention programs, or in their clients’ home. They may chose to be a “generalist,” or specialize in areas such as pediatrics, gerontology, hand management or work/vocational programs. They may work as staff therapists, supervisors, clinical directors,
administrators, consultants, researchers or educators. Occupational therapy assistants help occupational therapists evaluate patients’ daily living skills, instruct patients in self-care skills, order supplies and maintain records.
Occupational therapy aides transport patients, assemble equipment and prepare and maintain patient work areas.
Average Salary Range
$26,000 – $45,000 (therapists)
$20,000 – $30,000 (assistants)
$12,000 – $15,000 (aides)
Students interested in becoming occupational therapists should take the most challenging high school courses available in science, English and psychology. Occupational therapists enter the field with a master’s or doctoral degree in occupational therapy. The academic course work includes six months of clinical training. Certified occupational therapy assistants must complete a two year approved training program, which includes clinical
experience. All must pass a national certification examination and meet state requirements to practice occupational therapy. Occupational therapy aides receive most of their training on the job. A high school diploma is required and volunteer experiences are beneficial.
American Occupational Therapy
4720 Montgomery Ave., P.O. Box 31220
Bethesda, MD 20824-1220