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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants help carry out treatment programs. These programs are designed to develop, improve, or maintain clients’ abilities to perform day-to-day tasks and activities that they need or want to be involved in.

Also Known As

Occupational and Physical Therapist Assistant, OTA, OTA / PTA, Rehabilitation Assistant, Rehabilitation Services Practitioner, 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

  • 3414.2: Therapy Assistants

2006 NOC-S

  • D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services

2011 NOC

  • 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC

  • 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2021 NOC

  • 32109: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2023 OaSIS

  • 32109.05: Physiotherapy assistants and occupational therapy assistants
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) are supervised by occupational therapists. They work with clients who have functional challenges. These may be due to factors such as physical or mental illness, injury, developmental conditions, or aging. Clients range in age from infants to the elderly.

Occupational therapy assistants:

  • Gather resources to prepare for client treatment and education
  • Collaborate with therapy teams to develop personalized exercise programs with varying levels of skill and mobility
  • Carry out treatment plans, designed by occupational therapists, for individual clients and groups
  • Promote a positive attitude toward clients
  • Motivate and encourage clients to participate in treatment programs
  • Help clients learn skills needed for daily living (self-care, productivity, and leisure)
  • Help clients maintain or improve their daily performance in physical, intellectual, and social-emotional areas
  • Help clients improve their home, work, or school environments to better support their daily needs in work or play
  • Help create or repair assistive devices, splints, or equipment
  • Be involved with fitting clients for wheelchairs or other assistive devices and adapt if and as required
  • Prepare, clean, maintain, adjust, and make minor repairs to equipment, such as wheelchair repairs, as instructed or referred by occupational therapists
  • Teach clients and caregivers the proper use of wheelchairs and other assistive devices (high- and low-tech)
  • Teach clients strategies for daily living such as how to manage stress, protect joints, or conserve energy
  • Lead or take part in treatment groups
  • Observe and document client behaviour and performance during treatment
  • Keep inventories and order supplies and equipment
  • Schedule appointments and collect statistics
  • Report on the above to the therapist in charge

An OTA may, for example:

  • Guide a child with coordination problems in a game that teaches skills needed for dressing and undressing
  • Help a person with arthritis practice using specially designed tools for cooking and cleaning
  • Help a person with mental health challenges practice and gain confidence in community living and social skills
  • Teach someone who had a stroke new ways to get dressed and manage daily routines
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Occupational therapy assistants may work in high-stress settings. To avoid injury, they must use proper methods for lifting and moving clients. They are often required to lift equipment weighing up to 20 kilograms.

Though work schedules can vary, most OT assistants work daytime hours. Evening and weekend work is required in some settings.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Therapy Assistants

2006 NOC: 3414.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


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


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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Occupational therapy assistants need:

  • Mental resilience
  • Strength and stamina to assist people with disabilities
  • Patience, tact, and flexibility
  • Sensitivity to clients’ feelings and needs
  • Fine motor skills
  • Observational and organizational skills
  • Interpersonal skills to work effectively with those who may be under physical or emotional stress
  • Creativity
  • Manual skills needed for activities such as crafts, music, carpentry, and sewing
  • The ability to follow directions
  • The ability to work both individually and as part of a team
  • Communication skills such as speaking, listening, and recognizing both verbal and non-verbal cues
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Positive attitude and professional behaviours

They should enjoy:

  • Having clear guidelines for their work
  • Helping people one-on-one and in groups
  • Handling and maintaining equipment and supplies

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC: 3237

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 120 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Mar 28, 2023 and May 27, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Carry out treatment programs, under the direction of physiotherapists and/or occupational therapists, to rehabilitate patients with various injuries or disabilities
Tasks: Clean and maintain equipment
Attention to detail
Tasks: Document patient rehabilitation progress
Construction Specialization: Organized
Tasks: Schedule and confirm appointments
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Experience: 1 year to less than 2 years
Tasks: Assist during assessment of patients and carry out treatment programs and develop materials for use with patients
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

Employers generally require a related post-secondary diploma.

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Occupational therapy assistants work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Continuing care centres
  • Private clinics
  • Private homes
  • Schools
  • Mental health facilities
  • Vocational rehabilitation programs
  • Community organizations
  • Correctional facilities

Many positions involve working as both a physical therapist assistant and an occupational therapist assistant. To learn more see the Physical Therapist Assistant profile.

Prospects for advancement are limited without further education.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group, 82.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.9% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 22 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC: 3237
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3237 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $43.71 $24.13 $19.92
Overall $17.00 $47.94 $27.61 $23.36
Top $17.00 $49.35 $29.26 $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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) website: (search term: support personnel)

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

Therapy Assistant Association of Alberta (ThAAA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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