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Occupational Therapist Assistant

Occupational therapist assistants help occupational therapists implement treatment programs that are designed to develop, improve or maintain clients' abilities to function independently.

  • Avg. Salary $37,912.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.34
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 5,700
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Rehabilitation Services Practitioner, Therapist Assistant, Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Therapy Assistants (3414.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414);  Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414);  Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

67%
67%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Occupational Therapist Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Therapy Assistants
METHODICAL

Interest in copying information to assist patients as directed by health care professionals

SOCIAL

Interest in assisting patients by helping elderly and incapacitated patients to dress and undress, by accompanying patients to treatment rooms and by supporting them in other activities

objective

Interest in handling to prepare and maintain work materials and supplies; and in assisting patients in the use of therapeutic equipment

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Occupational therapist assistants work under the supervision of occupational therapists to support their work with clients whose abilities to function and adapt have been impaired by illness or injury, mental health disorders, developmental disorders, social disabilities or aging. Clients range in age from infants to the elderly.

Occupational therapist assistants:

  • gather relevant materials in preparation for client treatment and education
  • implement treatment plans designed by occupational therapists for individual clients and groups
  • maintain and promote a positive attitude toward clients and their treatment programs
  • help clients learn skills needed for daily living (self-care, productivity and leisure)
  • help clients maintain or improve performance in physical, thinking and social-emotional areas
  • assist in completing splints and creating or repairing assistive devices
  • measure clients for appropriately sized wheel chairs and fabricate adaptations as required
  • educate clients and caregivers on the proper use of wheelchairs and other assistive devices
  • assist in educating clients regarding joint protection techniques and energy conservation
  • lead or participate in treatment groups
  • observe and document client behaviour and performance during treatment and report to the supervising therapist 
  • prepare, clean, maintain, adjust and make minor repairs to equipment
  • maintain inventories and order supplies and equipment
  • schedule appointments and collect statistics.

For example, an occupational therapist assistant may:

  • guide a child with co-ordination problems in a game that teaches skills needed for dressing and undressing
  • help someone who has arthritis practice using specially designed tools for cooking and cleaning
  • help someone who has mental health problems to practice and gain confidence in community living and social skills.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Occupational therapist assistants work in a variety of settings including hospitals, continuing or long term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, schools and private homes. These can be high stress environments. To avoid injury, occupational therapist assistants must use proper methods for lifting and moving clients and equipment that may weigh up to 20 kilograms.

Most assistants work daytime hours, although their hours can vary. In some environments, evening and weekend work is required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Occupational therapist assistants need the following characteristics:

  • physical and mental fitness
  • patience, tact and flexibility
  • good observation skills
  • good organizational skills
  • sensitivity to clients' feelings and needs
  • the interpersonal skills required to work effectively with people of various ages who may be under physical or emotional stress
  • the ability to follow directions
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • the creative and manual skills required for activities such as crafts, music, carpentry and sewing
  • good oral and written communication skills 
  • the strength and stamina required to assist people who have disabilities.

They should enjoy having clear guidelines for their work, helping people individually and in groups, and handling and maintaining equipment and supplies.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Employers generally prefer to hire graduates of related post-secondary diploma programs.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton City Centre

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Occupational therapist assistants are employed by:

  • regional health authorities (hospitals, rehabilitation centres) 
  • schools
  • home care programs
  • continuing care centres
  • mental health agencies and institutions
  • vocational rehabilitation programs
  • community organizations
  • correctional facilities 
  • private practices.

Some positions involve working as a physical therapist assistant as well as an occupational therapist assistant (for more information, see the Physical Therapist Assistant occupational profile).

Without further education opportunities for advancement are limited.

Occupational therapist assistants are part of the 2011 National Occupational Classification 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment. In Alberta, 87% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 7,700 Albertans are employed in the Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.2% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 246 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As occupational therapist assistants form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for occupational therapist assistants.  

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $34.00 $20.85 $19.06
Overall $17.00 $41.70 $25.61 $23.01
Top $19.10 $47.30 $29.23 $24.95

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Educational Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

67%
67%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

26%
26%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

1%
1%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Other assisting occupations in support of health services

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $24.08 $20.51 $21.62
Overall $16.93 $28.39 $23.34 $23.84
Top $18.00 $30.18 $25.89 $25.69

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

55%
55%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

26%
26%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

6%
6%

Vacancy Rate

3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) website: www.caot.ca (search term: support personnel)

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

Therapy Assistant Association of Alberta (ThAAA) website: www.thaaa.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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