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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 function on their own.

Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Occupational / Physical Therapist 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: Therapy Assistants (3414.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237) 
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
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

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

Abilities

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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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

Occupational therapy assistants:

  • gather resources to prepare for client treatment and education
  • carry out treatment plans (designed by occupational therapists) for individual clients and groups
  • 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 their daily performance in physical, intellectual, and social-emotional areas
  • help complete splints and create or repair assistive devices
  • measure clients for wheelchairs and adapt if and as required
  • teach clients and caregivers the proper use of wheelchairs and other assistive devices (high- and low-tech)
  • help teach clients how to protect their joints and conserve energy
  • lead or take part in treatment groups
  • observe and document client behaviour and performance during treatment
  • report on the above to the therapist in charge
  • prepare, clean, maintain, adjust, and make minor repairs to equipment
  • keep inventories and order supplies and equipment
  • schedule appointments and collect statistics.

An OT assistant may:

  • guide a child with co-ordination 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 problems practice and gain confidence in community living and social skills
  • teach someone who had a stroke or with a spinal cord injury new ways to get dressed and manage daily routines.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

These can be 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 assistants work daytime hours. Evening and weekend work is required in some settings.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Occupational therapy assistants need:

  • mental fitness
  • strength and stamina to assist people with disabilities
  • patience, tact, and flexibility
  • sensitivity to clients’ feelings and needs
  • fine motor skills
  • observation and organizational skills
  • the people skills needed to work effectively with people who may be under stress (physical or emotional)
  • creativity and manual skills needed for activities (such as crafts, music, carpentry and sewing)
  • the ability to follow directions
  • the ability to work alone and as a team
  • the ability to speak and listen well
  • the ability to recognize and use verbal and non-verbal cues
  • the ability to solve problems.

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 33 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 24, 2021 and Dec 01, 2022.

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
Tasks: Schedule and confirm appointments
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Tasks: Perform various administrative functions
Clean and maintain equipment
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

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

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, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Occupational therapy assistants work in:

  • community organizations
  • continuing care centres
  • correctional facilities
  • mental health facilities
  • private homes
  • regional health centres (hospitals, rehab centres)
  • schools
  • vocational rehab programs

Some positions involve working as a physical therapist assistant as well as an OT assistant. To learn more see the Physical Therapist Assistant profile.

Prospects for advancement are limited without further education.

Occupational therapy 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 [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 75 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
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: 2019-2023 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, 2018

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
$27.61
Per Hour
Average Salary
$46,713.00
Per Year
Average Hours
33.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.7
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
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
Starting
Overall
Top

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

Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
36%
36%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
13%
13%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
7%
7%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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: thaaa.ca

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

Updated Mar 31, 2018. 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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