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What is the difference between an occupational therapist assistant and an occupational therapist?

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Hannah’s Answer

The biggest difference, based on descriptions provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is one of education. An occupational therapist typically requires a masters degree and a license and they work to "treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities." Occupational therapists consider the needs of their patient and design a treatment to follow. The higher level of education and training required for this profession typically comes with a higher salary than that of an occupational therapy assistant.

Occupational therapy assistants usually require an associates degree or higher, or completion of a certified program. Assistants then carry out the treatment a therapist has developed and help with clerical tasks as needed, including preparing therapy equipment and taking patients through routines.

Both positions work together frequently and an occupational therapist depends on an assistant to ensure that patients are completing their treatment safely and effectively. It is definitely possible for an individual to begin in the field as an assistant and become a licensed occupational therapist with further education and training.

Hannah recommends the following next steps:

For more information on Occupational Therapists, see https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm#tab-1
For more information on Occupational Therapy Assistants (and Aides), see https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-1
Contact Occupational Therapists or Assistants in your area to set up informational interviews via email or phone and learn more about their career paths!

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Rodolfo’s Answer

OT has more education so more pay.