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Occupational Profile

Occupational Therapist Assistant

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

  • Avg. Salary $34,775.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.85
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook Up
  • Employed 5,100
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

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

NOC & Interest Codes
The Occupational Therapist Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Therapy Assistants
NOC code: 3414.2
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.

NorQuest College

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

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.

Occupational Therapist Assistant are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group earned on average from $20.16 to $27.51 an hour. The overall average wage was $20.85 an hour. For more information, see the Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Recreation Leadership
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, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works 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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