an occupational therapy assistant working with a patient

Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Job Outlook

The healthcare industry continues to be the United States’ largest employer, with more than 22 million professionals working within the field. Healthcare is also the fastest-growing industry in the United States, in terms of employment growth. Specifically, between 2020 and 2030, about 2.6 million jobs will be added to the healthcare field. About 16,800 of these job openings will be for Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides (OTAs). The OTA job outlook is among the brightest of all healthcare occupations.

Occupational Therapy Assistants, or OTAs, help patients develop, recover, and/or improve the functional skills needed for daily living and working. They directly provide therapy to a range of patients, including elderly people who have lost fine motor skills, children who may be behind in development, or individuals who lost certain function due to injury or disability. The work of an OTA is important and meaningful, underlining why the demand for these professionals is so high.

If you are interested in becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you can look forward to numerous job prospects, as well as job security, upon entering the field. Here’s a look at the OTA job look in the United States today.

OTA Job Outlook Nationwide

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts exponential employment growth for Occupational Therapy Assistants. Specifically, between the year 2020 and 2030, Occupational Therapy Assistant careers are expected to grow 36%. This is 4.5 times the rate of all occupations nationwide, which average about 8% growth.

Each year, about 8,800 job openings are expected for OTAs, on average, over the next decade. These openings will become available as more healthcare workers retire and exit the workforce, and as baby boomers age and more patients require the services of OTAs.

Why are OTAs in High Demand?

Demand for occupational therapy is likely to grow over the coming decade in response to the health needs of a growing number of older adults. However, because occupational therapy aides is a small occupation, the fast growth is expected to result in only about 1,200 new jobs over the decade.

Older adults are more prone than young people to conditions and ailments, such as arthritis and strokes, that may affect the ability to do everyday activities. Occupational therapy assistants and aides will be needed to help occupational therapists in caring for these patients. Occupational therapy also will continue to be used to treat children and young adults with developmental disabilities, such as autism.

Healthcare providers, especially those specializing in long-term care, will continue to employ these assistants to reduce the cost of occupational therapy services. After the therapist has evaluated a patient and designed a treatment plan, the occupational therapy assistant provides many aspects of the treatment that the therapist prescribed.

What makes OTA jobs so important?

Occupational Therapy Assistants help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living – walking, eating, working, and more. Sometimes, OTAs will help patients carry out therapeutic exercises, such as stretching, to recover from injuries or debilitating conditions like arthritis. You may also find an OTA working with children who have developmental disabilities, helping them develop coordination as well as hone cognitive, social, and motor skills. OTAs often work with elderly populations, but may also work with children, mental health patients, people needing rehabilitation therapy, in workplaces that involve physical labor. All in all, the OTA job description involves helping people limited by illness, injury, emotional disorders, developmental disabilities, or the aging process.

Older adults are particularly prone to conditions like arthritis and stroke, which often perturb a person’s ability to perform everyday activities or carry out basic life skills. Occupational Therapy Assistants help these older patients recover those essential skills through a variety of evidence-based therapies and treatments. For this reason, long-term care facilities like nursing homes and other healthcare providers are looking to employ more OTAs to fulfill the aging population’s growing need for occupational therapy services.

How much do Occupational Therapy Assistants make?

On average across the U.S., Occupational Therapy Assistants make $59,310 annually. However, in Connecticut, OTAs make significantly more. The average OTA salary in Connecticut is now over $64,000 a year. With a burgeoning OTA job outlook and such great salary potential, Connecticut proves to be a great state of work for aspiring Occupational Therapy Assistants.

How do you become an OTA in Connecticut?

If you are considering an OTA career in Connecticut, you will need to obtain an associate degree from an accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant school. In order to be eligible for licensure in the state, you will also need to complete at least eight weeks of field work experience during your OTA program, and successfully pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination.

An OTA program will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to pass your certification exam and become successful in the field. In Goodwin’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program, for example, you will learn the principles of occupational therapy and how they relate to specific populations, as well as the application of recognized therapies in the field. You will gain hands-on experience fabricating splints, providing therapeutic exercises and functional activities, and training in the activities of daily living. Through classroom and fieldwork learning, you can also expect to learn how to adapt to home, work, and school environments, for whatever case comes your way.

Goodwin’s OTA students are required to complete multiple rounds of fieldwork. Here, we believe that hands-on training, under trained Occupational Therapy professionals, is the best way to hone one’s skills. Students prepare to work in a variety of settings – hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers, schools, pediatrics, geriatrics, home healthcare, alternative communities – and gain experience with real-life patients.

The growing demand for occupational services, the bright (and secure) OTA job outlook, the high earning potential, the rewarding career outcomes –  there is no doubt that now is the time to begin an OTA career. Why wait? Contact Goodwin University at 800-889-3282 to learn more about earning an Occupational Therapy Assistant degree in CT.