How do I Become an Occupational Therapy Aide?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2019
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There has been an increase in the number of people who want to become an occupational therapy aide in the past five to seven years. In the past, these candidates would have focused on becoming a nurse or health care technologist. However, working as an occupational therapy aide is a great career, providing opportunities to work closely with patients, interact with health care professionals, and make a difference in peoples’ lives.

The primary role of an occupational therapy aide is to help the patient complete the treatment program prescribed by the occupational therapist. In addition to an interest in this field, candidates must have the right attitude, obtain post-secondary education, gain real world working experience, and complete various tests.

An occupational therapy aide works closely with people who are recovering from a major illness, accident, or chronic health condition. The driving concept behind the field of occupational therapy is the use of work to help people transition back into an active, participatory life. Clients require support, encouragement, and patience. People who are able to combine compassion with determination and a strong understanding of the benefits of this type of therapy have the attitude required to be successful.


Programs to become an occupational therapy aide or assistant are available from a wide range of community and career colleges. The admissions criteria for this program typically include a personal interview or essay, as well high school graduation. Many schools require all applicants to wait a minimum of four years after high school graduation to apply to this program, due to the level of personal maturity required. On average, it takes eight to 12 months to complete this program, which includes a combination of classroom and practical work.

Work experience to become an occupational therapy aide is usually obtained through the college training program. All occupational aide programs include work placement terms. The students typically complete a job placement in at least two different settings: institutional and outpatient. The purpose of these two placements is to gain the experience required to work in these settings. The career options for an occupational therapy aide typically revolve around working in a centralized center or facility, providing assistants to clients as required.

As part of the program to become an occupational therapy aide, most schools require psychological evaluations, in addition to credit and criminal records checks while in a job placement. Employers may demand random drug and alcohol tests, as part of their responsibility to protect fragile clients.



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