Beginning a Career as an Occupational Therapist Assistant

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Services in the medical field are in high demand, especially in occupational therapy. Being a therapist and helping people is a very satisfying experience on a personal and financial level.

An occupational therapist assistant works with occupational therapists to offer services to people who have physical and mental challenges. These individuals help to make life easier for those who have developmental impairments.

The assistant prepares all supplies and equipment required for rehabilitation treatment. Therapy aides also handle many office and clerical tasks like giving patients' appointments, speaking on the phone, and ensuring supply level are at proper levels.

Assistant therapists' services also include recording information on a patient's progression, behavior, and ability to cooperate during treatments. An assistant is also responsible to assessing a patient's skills and abilities to be self sufficient and the level to which treatment is required. Assistants also ensure the quality of service meets the set standards of the facility as well as the customer. Customer service is one of the most important tasks performed.

A person who wishes to engage in this field must have an associate degree from an accredited college or school. Courses should include health care, medical terms, physiology, and anatomy as well as biology. Other courses provided in college include mental health, how to deal with physical challenges, pediatrics as well as gerontology. A student must complete at least sixteen hours of hands-on training with a supervising occupational therapist.

Classes should be taken in high school for a head start in college level courses. Volunteer work prior to attending college is recommended. Volunteer can be performed at local clinics as well as hospitals to gain experience and knowledge.

Licensing on a national level is required. An occupational therapist may not perform therapeutic services without certification after graduation from school.

A person involved in this field must have patience with all patients who require service. Heavy lifting will also be involved for the movement of patients who require therapy. Physical condition and health must be excellent to tolerate the physical exertion and strength required. Being a team player is important in this professional as an occupational therapy assistant will be working with many employees within a facility. A successful career minded individual should be eager to learn and ready to use motivational tactics to help patients succeed.
English and writing skills must excel in order to properly prepare reports regarding a patient's success or difficulty.

A therapist assistant should also have knowledge of different religious beliefs of a person who is receiving treatments. Learning the ethics and principles of a patient is an important skill.

Most of the training in this profession is gained through work performed. To gain the proper experience and training, offer services to local therapy centers, physicians' offices, hospitals, nursing homes, or mental institutions.

According to information released by the federal government, occupational therapy consultants held 25,000 during the year 2006. Most of the jobs were located in hospitals, private therapy practices, nursing centers, and homes of patients.

As with many medical fields this one will grow faster than many other industries because the demand will increase as well. Many elderly people require service and will need them in the future. Having a degree in the profession will increase the possibilities of obtaining a higher paying job. A person who has only a high school diploma will have limited chances of getting a good position with acceptable pay rates.

In some areas, the demand for this service is lower than others. A location that does not have a therapist available is a good place to start if you choose to be a consultant in the field or if you decide to open your own private practice.

Occupational therapy job growth is expected to exceed 25 percent in a period of 10 years. The growth rate will depend on legislation set forth by the federal government and the amount of funding available for education.

The average salary is approximately $42,000 as stated in 2006. A percentage of occupational therapists earned from $34,000 and $50,000. The highest paid therapy consultants earned over $55,000. The salary will vary depending on the specialty chosen. The highest paid individuals worked in physical therapy offices, speech therapy service provider facilities, and audiology expert labs.

The field of occupational therapy is highly recommended for the availability of jobs, growth rate, and excellent salary level. Though the educational expenditure will be expensive, the effort is well worth it in the long run.
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