An occupational therapy aide certification program can help you develop essential skills and knowledge for helping others learn, improve, and recover skills for daily living and working. This type of undergraduate certificate can be sought at multiple institutions.
Occupational therapy aides are instrumental in assisting occupational therapists and OT assistants. Most OT aides are only required to have a high school diploma, as they’ll receive extensive on-the-job training.
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But earning OT aide training from a postsecondary program can help you build foundational skills and gain a competitive edge in the job market.
Online Occupational Therapy Aide Certification Programs
According to leaders in the occupational therapy field, there’s expected to be an increase in demand for occupational therapy aides. This is because the need for these specialized medical services has risen among young adults, children, and senior citizens with unique healthcare needs.
Occupational therapist aide training prepares students to work in various fields, but most choose to go into healthcare settings like nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation clinics. OT aides perform the duties given to them by occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) and occupational therapists (OTs).
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When undertaking an occupational therapy aide certificate program, you can learn skills and knowledge to better assist these professionals. Most often, an occupational therapy aide can expect to complete varied tasks. Some of these tasks include supervised client-related tasks in healthcare, routine clerical work, and clinical area preparation.
While studying to become an occupational therapy aide, students will typically learn the following:
- Medical and body systems terminology
- The duties a rehabilitation team needs to undertake daily
- The history of the diverse and ever-evolving occupational therapy field
- Clinical work experience (often optional)
You will likely also learn more about safety in a healthcare setting, which is essential when working in an occupational therapy setting. After graduating from an online occupational therapy aide certificate program, students often go on to work with patients to help them improve their quality of life.
Occupational Therapy Careers and Salaries
Occupational therapist aides are most often found in nursing care facilities, offices of health practitioners, and hospitals. These specialists may also be found in fitness career paths working alongside sports teams and in non-profit organizations assisting medical professionals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of potential career paths for professionals with OT aide training.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors||$45,380|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$38,520|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$38,500|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||$37,060|
|Physical Therapist Aides||$31,410|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||$30,180|
Completing an OT aide certificate could also help you determine whether you enjoy the field of occupational therapy. If you do, you could always consider pursuing further education to become an OT assistant or even an occupational therapist. Usually, to become an OT, you will need a much more advanced level of training, such as in an occupational therapy doctorate online or on-campus program.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of occupational therapy aides is expected to rise 14% over the next ten years, which is much faster than average. Completing postsecondary training in occupational therapy may give you a competitive edge in this growing job market.
OT Aide Certificate Curriculum & Courses
Not every school will have the same coursework and curriculum, but here are a few common courses you may take in an occupational therapy aide certificate program:
- Medical Terminology: During this course, you’ll learn medical terminology and the four major word parts of medical terms alongside word formation.
- Body Systems: Students studying this course will learn about many body systems—including the nervous, musculoskeletal, lymphatic, respiratory, and endocrine systems—along with their abbreviations and associated terms.
- The Occupational Therapy Aid: You’ll learn about the qualities of an occupational therapy aide as well as their job duties, descriptions, and characteristics.
- The Rehabilitation Team: During this course, you’ll learn about occupational therapy practitioner roles and responsibilities, services provided to different age groups, and treatment settings.
- Safety in a Healthcare Setting: This course teaches you about safety in the workplace and emergency preparedness. You’ll also learn about PPE and proper hand-washing techniques.
- Occupational Therapy Framework (Domain): Students in this course will learn more about instrumental activities associated with daily living, performance, client factors, and activity demands.
- Assistive Technology Devices: During this course, you’ll study various assistive technology equipment and techniques, including durable medical equipment, mobility and transportation aides, orthotics and prosthetics, and rehabilitative equipment.
- Introduction to Occupational Therapy: This course will cover everything students need to know about occupational therapy, from the occupational therapy process to the past, present, and future of this field.
- Professionalism: Students will learn more about professionalism and what is expected of them as occupational therapy aides in a business capacity concerning communication, time management, and appearance.
- Treatment Case Studies: During this course, you’ll examine past treatment cases to learn more about populations, conditions, settings, equipment, and treatment and how these factors merge in the occupational therapy setting.
These are only some example courses you might study if you pursue an OT aide certificate. Some certificate programs only consist of 5 courses, but the number of required courses can vary from school to school.
Occupational therapy aide schools can have varying admission requirements, but here are some common admissions criteria for undergraduate certificate programs:
- High school diploma or GED equivalent
- Minimum GPA of 2.5, on average
- Official transcripts of all secondary and any postsecondary institutions attended
You could speak with a career counselor at your high school to discuss your options. You could also reach out to an admissions officer of a prospective postsecondary school to discover more about the application process.
Online Occupational Therapy Aide Programs Accreditation
When researching and comparing online occupational therapy aide programs, it’s strategic to look at the accreditation status of the schools that are offering them. Accreditation signifies that a school has been evaluated by an accrediting agency and has been found to meet quality educational standards.
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You can visit the US Department of Education’s website to verify whether a prospective school is accredited by a credible organization. Attending an accredited school is often a precondition for qualifying for financial aid opportunities.
Occupational Therapy Aide Licensure and Certifications
Occupational therapy aides are often trained on the job, and they assist occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapists. While OT assistants and occupational therapists must hold state licensure, states usually do not regulate OT aides.
While the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) awards certification to qualifying OT assistants, occupational therapy aides do not qualify for NBCOT certification. All in all, OT aides typically do not require national certification or state licensure to practice.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are a number of financial aid opportunities you can explore to help cover the upfront costs of a postsecondary program.
There are not as many scholarships available for occupational therapy certificate programs, but you can still see if your school or professional organizations offer any scholarship opportunities.
Many students also apply for student loans and work-study programs from the federal government. You can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify. Many states have financial aid programs as well.
Some employers also offer tuition reimbursement programs or other tuition benefits for workers who are pursuing a college education.
What Is an Occupational Therapy Aide?
An occupational therapy aide is a qualified professional who supports occupational therapists. An occupational therapy aide assists these professionals as well as OT assistants while they assist the ill, disabled, or injured in learning or relearning how to accomplish various daily tasks and routines.
An occupational therapy aide is not allowed to perform certain tasks by law because they are often not licensed. But, they will assist occupational therapy specialists by helping them with various tasks that benefit the patient. This ultimately helps OTs do their jobs better as well.
What Does an Occupational Therapy Aide Do?
An aide might be responsible for cleaning therapy areas, washing linens, transporting patients, setting up medical equipment, and performing various administrative duties surrounding patient care.
Other duties occupational therapy aides can be responsible for include answering questions over the phone, making appointments, and restocking and re-ordering supplies. In certain instances, these unlicensed medical professionals are also in charge of filling out paperwork and insurance forms on behalf of their patients. This frees up time for occupational therapists and OT assistants to do their jobs.
What Skills Do You Learn in an Occupational Therapy Aide Training Program?
In an OT aide certificate program, you can learn about communication and professionalism in addition to learning how to be a caring and compassionate occupational therapy aide. Your core courses will likely cover anatomy, medical equipment, and how to take care of patients. Gaining this foundational knowledge can help you better assist occupational therapists.
Some of the skills occupational therapy aides learn during their training program include:
- Technology skills
- Active listening
- Social perceptiveness
- Therapy and counseling
These are only a few of the skills you may develop when completing an online OT aide certificate program.
What Can You Do with an Occupational Therapy Aide Training?
OT aide training may help prepare you for a range of career paths that relate to health and mobility. Most students who pursue an OT aide certificate or career diploma want to become occupational therapy aides. According to the BLS, these positions are seeing 14% job growth over the next ten years, which is much faster than average.
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The training you’d receive in this certificate program could also apply to related entry-level roles in the health and service fields. For instance, related positions could include medical assistant, fitness trainer, personal care aide, physical therapist aide, psychiatric aide, orderly, and recreation worker.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Occupational Therapy Aide Certificate Online?
How long it takes to obtain an occupational therapy aide certificate online depends on the institution and their specific requirements. Some institutions have shorter timeframes than others.
On average, obtaining an occupational therapy aide certificate can take 3 months to 6 months. You may be able to complete your certificate faster if you study full-time and year-round. While part-time studies can offer additional flexibility, enrolling part-time can also extend your time to completion.
Where Can You Work with a Certificate in Occupational Therapy Aide Training?
There are many places you might be able to work after getting a certificate in occupational aide training. It should be noted, though, that most students pursue professions in the healthcare industry.
An individual who has received a certificate in occupational therapy aide training may work at a state, local, or private hospital or in the offices of other healthcare practitioners. In addition, OT aides can also look for work at nursing care facilities, home healthcare service practices, educational institutions, and offices of audiologists and speech therapists.
What’s the Difference Between Physical Therapy vs. Occupational Therapy?
Here are some of the key differences between physical therapy and occupational therapy.
- Physical Therapy: This form of therapy centers on improving a patient’s ability to move their afflicted body parts through exercises, stretches, and carefully executed maneuvers.
- Occupational Therapy: This form of therapy helps patients learn or re-learn how to go about daily tasks and abilities needed to live a healthy, independent life.
PT aides and OT aides are both trained on the job, but a postsecondary certificate program could help you develop foundation skills in these fields.
What’s the Difference Between an Occupational Therapy Aide Certificate vs. Certification?
Here are some of the differences between an occupational therapy aide certification and an occupational therapy aide certificate.
- OT Aide Certificate: An occupational therapy aide certificate is an academic credential that signifies a student has completed postsecondary courses and gained foundational knowledge and skills in the field.
- OT Aide Certification: Certification is an industry credential awarded by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. While OT aides do not qualify for NBCOT certification, OT assistants are often required to be certified.
Completing an associate degree in occupational therapy could help you qualify for national certification and state licensure as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA).
Is an Occupational Therapy Aide Certificate Worth It?
Yes, an occupational therapy aide certificate is worth it for many students. Many entry-level roles in the health and services fields only require a high school education. So, earning a postsecondary certificate could help you gain foundational skills and a competitive edge in the job market.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14% job growth is projected for occupational therapy aides over the next ten years, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. OT aide training could also apply to related aide positions in the medical field.
College Offering Online Occupational Therapy Aide Certificate Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Borough of Manhattan Community College offers a physical therapy aide certification course online. There are typically no prerequisites to enter the program. Completing the course may lead to eligibility to take the Physical Therapy Technician or Aide certification exam offered by the American Medical Certification Association.
BMCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Nationally Accredited Programs in Occupational Therapy Aide Certificate Online
In addition to the regionally accredited university listed above, the following nationally accredited colleges offer online certificate programs in occupational therapy aide.
Ashworth College offers an occupational therapy aide career diploma program online. Courses typically use a self-paced format, and may include Medical and Body Systems Terminology, Occupational Therapy Fundamentals, Occupational Therapy Framework and Workplace Safety, and Workplace Behavior, Occupational Therapy Equipment, and Treatment Strategies.
Ashworth College is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Penn Foster College offers a program to become an occupational therapy aide. The program offers the option to complete clinical work experience and to take courses such as Occupational Therapy Orientation, Medical and Body Systems Terminology, Activities of Daily Living and Adaptive Equipment, and Therapy and Safety Skills.
Penn Foster is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Getting Your Occupational Therapy Aide Certificate Online
You might consider obtaining an occupational therapy aide certificate if you want to build foundational skills and knowledge in the field.
A career in occupational therapy is especially rewarding for those who are passionate about helping others. Completing a certificate program online could add flexibility to your studies, allowing you to work at your own pace. OT aide training could also apply to related positions in the health and personal services fields.
If you’re ready to start working toward a career in this growing field, you could begin exploring online OT aide certificate programs from accredited schools today.