Occupational Therapy Aides – Roles & Responsibilities, Should You Become One?

Rehab Aide Featured

What do OT Aides Do?

An occupational therapy aide (as opposed to an occupational therapy assistant, OTA/COTA) assists an occupational therapist in their daily work roles. OT aides work under the close supervision of either an OT or an OTA. Their supportive role does not include skilled occupational therapy services. OT aides may perform only delegated or specific tasks. Examples include setting up and cleaning equipment, transporting clients, preparing supplies, and performing routine tasks in which the aide has been trained.

Roles and Responsiblities

Each setting, state, or service may have additional restrictions based on the services rendered. For example, the scope of practice of an OT aide in one state may differ from that of another state. In general, OT aides do not provide any therapy or render any occupational therapy services.

Should you become one?

OT aides play a valuable supportive role to the rehabilitation team. Often, students ask what job they should get to increase their experience with therapy and increase their chances of getting accepted into an occupational therapy program.

Pre-OT

A popular choice is becoming an OT aide or rehab aide. Some positions will train you to become an aide without any extensive background education in therapy or rehabilitation. All of the training can occur on the job. Benefits include – gaining insight into occupational therapy vs. physical therapy vs. speech-language pathology vs. other allied health professions, understanding how scheduling works, preparing and cleaning therapy equipment, aiding in transferring clients, rehabilitation interventions, and much more. You get paid to do it too!

Getting Started

If a position for OT aide is not open near you, consider asking if you can volunteer at facilities such as nursing homes. You can play a supportive role to therapists, aides, and the staff while observing a lot of what happens on the job.

Try not to think of volunteering as “how much time should I volunteer?” Volunteering should come from your internal drive and motivation to volunteer in general. With this perspective, volunteering will be much more rewarding, meaningful, and productive to your future healthcare career. It is all part of the process.

Good luck!