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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.

  • Avg. Salary $42,149.00
  • Avg. Wage $25.61
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 1,900
  • In Demand Medium
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) 
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 Therapy 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 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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
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.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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 Mar 31, 2018

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 D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.2% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 246 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

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.

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
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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