Occupational therapy helps patients battling physical and mental conditions that affect motor skills, play, socialization and speech. Therapists work with these patients to help them regain the ability to handle utensils, walk, eat, groom themselves and hear. Occupational therapist assistants conduct tests or activities under the supervision and in support of occupational therapists. The mean occupational therapist assistant salary is $59,530 in the United States, C$41,392 ($32,586 USD) in Canada, and £31,523 ($43,822 USD) in the United Kingdom. The mean occupational therapy assistant salary in Australia stands at at AU$80,762 ($62,944 USD). Occupational therapy assistants collect salaries on a mean basis of NZD$67,807 ($49,595 USD) in New Zealand.
How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Make?
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Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary Determinant Factors
Occupational therapist assistants generally work under the supervision of occupational therapists in private practices or in hospitals, skilled care facilities and schools. Thus, the size, financial health and commercial or non-profit nature of the employer influences pay. Those with more resources can generally offer more generous pay. With accumulation of experience come increases, albeit modest, in salaries for occupational therapist assistants.
1. How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Make by Country?
Occupational Therapist Salary in US
As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean pay for occupational therapists assistants in the country stands at $59,530. Median pay reaches $59,010, with the top one quarter of assistants earning above $70,550 and those in the top ten percent fetching more than $80,090.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary in Canada
PayScale puts the mean salary for occupational therapist assistants in Canada at C$19.90 per hours, or C$41,392 per year. The salary range starts at C$29,696 and climbs to C$53,266.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary in UK
In the United Kingdom, occupational therapist assistants, also called occupational therapy support workers by the National Careers Service, garner between £15,250 and £22,500.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary in Australia
SalaryExpert puts the mean pay for occupational therapist assistants in Australia at AU$80,762, with the pay running from AU$59,087 to AU$99,000.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Salary in New Zealand
According to SalaryExpert, occupational therapist assistants in New Zealand receive on a mean basis NZD$67,807. Salaries span from NZD$49,569 to NZD$83,053.
2. How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Make According to Experience?
For occupational therapy assistants in the United States, experience leads to modest increases in salary. According to PayScale, entry-level assistants earn on a mean basis $49,000. At the five to ten-year stage, mean salaries increase to $56,000. Those with ten to 20 years on the job make on a mean basis $61,000. Pay slips slightly to $60,000 for assistants in their late-career stages.
Occupational therapist assistants in the United Kingdom earn between £15,250 and £19,000 as “starters.” Salaries rise to £19,250 to £22,500 for those in the experienced category.
Entry-level occupational therapy assistants in Australia see mean pay of AU$59,087. By achieving senior-level experience, earnings increase to AU$99,000. In New Zealand, those with three years or less in experience make on average NZD$49,569. At eight or more years of experience, mean salaries rise to NZD$83,053.
3. How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Make According to Work Environment?
In the United States, the highest paid occupational therapists assistants reside in “Home Health Care Services,” at $70,360. “Nursing Care Facilities,” which employ an estimated 7,360, averaged pay of $64,780. This was good for third place. In “Offices of Other Health Practitioners,” the mean registers at $60,010 based on the salaries of 16,200 occupational therapist assistants.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service starts occupational therapy support workers on “Bands” 2 and 3. This translates to a pay range of £15,404 and £19,852.
As a rule of thumb, occupational therapy assistants primarily work full-time, though part-time assistants also have a visible presence. In fact, according to O*NET, approximately 52 percent of occupational therapy assistants in the United States were in the part-time ranks. In the United Kingdom, work weeks average 37.5 hours.
The setting will often determine typical work schedules. In the offices of audiologists, physical, speech and other occupational therapists, assistants normally keep daytime hours and usually do not work on weekends. In some practices, occupational therapy assistants may be expected to perform evening or weekend duties for the convenience of patients and clients. Assistants in hospitals and skilled or other nursing care facilities can expect more evenings or weekends on the job.
Bonuses and Benefits
Across the board, occupational therapy assistants get either small or no bonuses. Full-time workers can expect health coverage and retirement benefits.
According to PayScale, bonuses for occupational therapy assistants in the United States rise as high as $3,091. These workers average $1,000 in compensation from profit sharing.
SalaryExpert reports that occupational therapy assistants in Canada, Australia and New Zealand did not receive bonuses.
As to health care benefits, occupational therapy assistants in the United States enjoy medical care at a 63 percent clip. Nearly 53 percent have dental coverage and 45 percent enjoy vision. According to PayScale, one out of four assistants in Canada gets medical coverage as a job benefit. The coverage rates for vision and dental are 13 percent for each.
Mental and physical ailments cause limitations that require treatment through occupational therapy. Aging populations result in more patients with arthritis and other mobility issues. Autism is prevalent in many countries, requiring occupational therapy assistants in the educational field. Occupational therapy assistants are needed to help therapists handle other developmental disabilities, hearing impairments and patients with strokes.
O*NET reports that occupational therapy assistants in the United States should see a 15 percent increase in employment through 2026. With its relatively small occupation size, this should translate to 6,600 new openings. In 2016, the United States had an estimated 39,000 occupational therapy assistants.
As reported by the Australian site Open Colleges, occupational therapist assistants numbered 12,800 in 2014 and should reach 17,500 by 2019. In privately-run offices or commercial providers outside the National Health Service, occupational therapist assistants can earn slightly more than their counterparts in the National Health Service.
Occupational therapy assistants can springboard with experience and additional education or training into occupational therapy positions.
Salaries for occupational therapy assistants fall in the lower end of the health care sector. With experience, these assistants can earn more. However, the range between entry-level and more experienced occupational therapy assistants is relatively small compared with other occupations. Opportunities for jobs should prove strong given the prevalence of physical and mental conditions that require the intervention of occupational therapy professionals.