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New York Health Careers

Occupational Therapy Assistants

What Do Occupational Therapy Assistants Do?

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) work under the direction of occupational therapists to provide rehabilitative services to patients with physical, emotional, or developmental impairments. They help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

Following a treatment plan developed by an occupational therapist, OTAs may assist patients with activities and exercises designed to improve strength and endurance, balance and coordination, mobility, hand and leg functions, self-care skills, and judgment and problem solving abilities in daily life.

OTAs encourage a patient’s progress and may monitor and chart an individual’s activities to make sure the exercises and tasks are performed correctly. OTAs report any issuses or concerns to the supervising occupational therapist.

For more information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm.

Where Do Occupational Therapy Assistants Work?

OTAs are primarily employed in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, occupational therapists’ offices, health clinics, and public schools.

What Do Occupational Therapy Assistants Earn?

In 2022, the average annual income reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for occupational therapy assistants in the United States was $66,280. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) reports that, in 2023, occupational therapy assistants in New York earned a median annual salary of $68,345 (occupational therapy assistants in the 25th percentile made approximately $50,013 while those in the 75th percentile made approximately $78,802).

Supply and Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for occupational therapy assistants and aides in the U.S. will increase by 25% between 2021 and 2031. The New York State Department of Labor projects that the number of jobs for occupational therapy assistants in the state will increase by 42% between 2020 and 2030.

The strong growth of the OTA workforce is attributed in part to the rising number of aging Americans who will need rehabilitative services for disabling or chronic conditions. In addition, technological advances are increasing the survival rate for patients with critical or chronic health problems and offering new methods of effective treatment as well, all of which will increase demand for occupational therapy rehabilitative services.

For more information on projections of OTAs by New York State labor regions (2018-2028), click here.

New York Education Program Requirements

To meet the professional education requirement for authorization as an OTA, one must complete a post-secondary program in occupational therapy of at least two years duration that is satisfactory to the New York State Education Department, or a two-year associate degree program for OTAs that is either approved by the New York State Education Department or accedited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Coursework for OTAs will include anatomy and physiology and topics such as mental health, adult physical disabilities, gerontology, and pediatrics. Students must also complete supervised fieldwork in a clinic or community setting to focus on the development of their clinical skills and gain real-life experience.

New York Licensure Requirements

In order to be authorized as an OTA in New York, an applicant must successfully complete a two-year OTA education program (see the description of Education, above). OTAs must also pass the COTA examination of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT) with a passing score of 450.

For more information, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/ot/otlic.htm.

Financial Support

For information about financial aid. loan programs, and scholarships for OTA students, please visit the AOTA Web site: http://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Find-School/Aid.aspx.

Education Programs in New York (subject to change)

Erie Community College
North Campus
6205 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221
(716) 851-1322
Jamestown Community College
525 Falconer Street
Jamestown, NY 14702
(716) 338-1000
LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 482-7200
Maria College
700 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
(518) 438-3111
Mercy College
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(877) 637-2947
Orange County Community College
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940
(845) 344-6222
Rockland Community College
145 College Road
Suffern, NY 10901
(845) 574-4000
Suffolk County Community College
Grant Campus
101 Crooked Hill Road
Brentwood, NY 11717
(631) 851-6700
Bryant & Stratton College
Greece Campus
854 Long Pond Rd.
Rochester, NY 14612
(585) 720-0660
Syracuse Campus
953 James Street
Syracuse, NY 13203
(315) 472-6603
Villa Maria College
240 Pine Ridge Rd.
Buffalo, NY 14225
(716) 961-1805
Cayuga Community College
Fulton Campus
11 Glen River Drive
Fulton, NY 13069
(315) 592-4143

Additional Web Links

For more information on OTAs, go to:

The American Occupational Therapy Association Web site at: http://www.aota.org; or

The New York State Occupational Therapy Association Web site at: http://www.nysota.org; or

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT) website at: www.nbcot.org.

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