Occupational therapy assistant salary in the US is around $53,090, but it varies from state to state. An occupational therapy assistant works under the supervision of an occupational therapist to aid patients in their therapeutic exercises and activities. The assistant’s main goal, together with the main therapist, is to help patients resume with their healthy lifestyle and regain their independence in performing daily tasks after suffering from a disability, injury or illness. It is also the OT assistant’s role to work directly with the patients regarding their treatment goals, while the OT caters to diagnosing and prescribing treatments. However, it should be clear that the occupational therapy salary does not include paying for assisting patients with their treatment or exercises. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in their Occupational Outlook Handbook for Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides that the profession just received $47,490 in salary as of May of 2010, or $22.83 per hour. The same organization also has a positive outlook for this professional with a projected 41% increase in the period of 2010 to 2020. This is attributed to the growing elderly population of the baby-boom generation in the country. Read more about occupational therapy assistant salary and education.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Description
The main focus of an occupational therapy assistant’s job is to provide assistance to the occupational therapists. This means that it is part of their job to perform administrative tasks, such as answer the phone calls or attend to the paperwork. They may also need to work with patients as they perform exercises or stretches or conduct activities with specialized equipment. It is also a part of their job to teach patients how to shift themselves between the bed and the chair and vice versa. They take note of all the activities the patients can successfully do, can hardly do, and cannot do in order to change the treatment plan as needed. These notes can also help the OT determine whether the treatment goals are met. It is important that the occupational therapy assistant is flexible in learning how to use tools, equipment and assistive devices that teach patients independence. The occupational therapy assistant salary also covers activities that would require the assistant to kneel, stoop, stand, set up equipment, and lift patients.
How much does an occupational therapy assistant make ?
Average occupational therapy assistant salary
According to the BLS, the average occupational therapy assistant salary in the US is $53,090, or an hourly pay of $25.52.
Occupational therapy assistant salary in the USA
The occupational therapy assistant’s salary ranges from $30,171 to $70,010, with the median pay being $46,757 per year, based on PayScale reports. The hourly rate is $14.49 to $33.71 with an overtime pay of up to $51.58 and a bonus that may reach up to $961.
OT assistants who are just starting can make around $30,000 per year, although as they gain more experience, it’s not unusual to take home an occupational therapy assistant salary of around $50,000.
The top paying industries list is topped by the home health care services, which pay occupational therapy assistants an average of $60,820, based on the BLS report as of May 2012. The other top paying industries include employment services, which pay $58,130; nursing care facilities, which pay $57,520; offices of other health practitioners, which pay $54,730; and specialty hospitals, except substance abuse and psychiatric hospitals, which give an occupational therapy assistant’s salary OTAs an average of $53,010 per year.
Based on PayScale surveys, the occupational therapy assistant salary for females is higher at around $35,745 to $63,616. Male assistants, on the other hand, receive around $39,305 to $52,903 per year.
Depending on the hospital setting, the occupational therapy assistant’s salary also varies. The pay in an extended care/nursing home is higher than in a general hospital. The former pays OTAs $44,479 to $60,000, while the latter only pays $28,496 to $48,834 per year.
Read also about occupational therapist salary.
Occupational therapy assistant salary by state
The BLS report for May 2012 included a list of the top paying states in the US, led by Nevada, which pays an average occupational therapy assistant’s salary of $76,420. This is followed by that of California that pays $65,920 and New Jersey that pays $62,310. The other states in the list include Delaware that pays $62,170 and Texas that pays OT assistants $62,050 per year.
In terms of the occupational therapy assistant salary by metropolitan areas, the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV area topped the list with an annual pay of $77,930. Fort Worth-Arlington, TX and Reading, PA pay $76,630 and $72,390 per year, respectively. The Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA and Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA metropolitan areas pay an average occupational therapy assistant’s salary of $71,200 and $70,070, respectively.
Certified occupational therapy assistant salary
In the US, the certified occupational therapy assistant’s salary ranges from $36,648 to $70,534. Their median pay is around $51,845 per year. A COTA with less than a year’s experience makes around $25,760 to $52,011 a year, while a veteran with at least 20 years of experience takes home an occupational therapy assistant salary between $31,354 and $61,825.
For a COTA, the extended care specialty pays the highest at around $22,795 to $72,301, according to PayScale. Geriatrics and acute care follow closely with a certified occupational therapy assistant’s salary of $32,428 to $71,518 and $29,590 to $70,685, respectively.
Based on the industry they are working for, long-term care or rehab facilities pay the top price for COTAs at around $32,438 to $73,062. Rehab and home health care industries also pay an occupational therapy assistant salary range of $27,548 to $63,616 and $34,157 to $61,674, respectively.
Occupational therapy assistant salary in Canada
The occupational therapy assistant salary, based on PayScale reports for COTAs, in Canada is between C$31,880 and C$45,319. OT assistants with one to four years of experience make C$18.51 per hour, while those with more experience at five to nine years take home C$20.28 per hour.
According to the Alberta Wage and Salary Survey of 2011, the average occupational therapy assistant salary for other assisting occupations in support health services, to which occupational therapy assistants belong to, was around C$34,151, or C$20.11 per hour.
Occupational therapy assistant salary in Australia
PayScale reported the occupational therapy assistant’s salary in Australia to be around AU$34,596 to AU$50,245.The wage for these assistants ranges from AU$16.56 to AU$24.35. Those with one to four years of experience make between AU$18.32 and AU$22.79 per hour. OT assistants who are based in Western Australia take home an hourly pay of AU$16.94 to AU$21.82. Nursing homes, which are among the top employers of OT assistants, pay an occupational therapy assistant’s wage of AU$17.16 to AU$19.83.
Occupational therapy assistant salary in the UK
The range of the occupational therapy assistant’s salary for those working in the UK is from £15,245 to £22,350, although the total pay including bonuses and other benefits can range from £7,128 to £25,356. The median occupational therapy assistant salary is reported to be around £16,677 per year.
Occupational therapy assistant salary in South Africa
The occupational therapy assistant’s salary is likely lower than that of an occupational therapist. Still, an OT’s salary can be used as basis and according to PayScale, an occupational therapist in South Africa earns between R116,794 and R247,151 per year. The median occupational therapy assistant salary is also cited to be R179,559. The basic salary for OTs ranges from R115,314 to R239,199 but with a bonus reaching up to R23,757, it certainly is a huge boost to the total salary.
How to become an occupational therapy assistant
To become an occupational therapy assistant, one needs to at least have an associate’s degree from reputable technical schools and community colleges. These usually need two years and consist of classroom instruction on pediatric health, biology, and psychology as well as clinical fieldwork for hands-on experience. To make sure that one gets a license as an occupational therapy assistant, applicants should only choose accredited programs. One of the trusted accrediting organizations for such programs is the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.
Conclusion about occupational therapy assistant salary
The average occupational therapy assistant’s salary is $53,090. The top 10% highest earning OTAs earn more than $73,120, while the lowest 10% take home lower than $32,970 per year.