Employment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase 43 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of occupational therapy aides is expected to increase 33 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Demand for occupational therapy is expected to rise significantly over the coming decade in response to the health needs of the aging baby-boom generation and a growing elderly population. Older adults are especially prone to conditions such as arthritis that affect their everyday activities. Occupational therapy assistants and aides will be needed to assist occupational therapists in caring for these people. Occupational therapy will also continue to be used for treating children and young adults with developmental disabilities like autism.
Demand for occupational therapy assistants is also expected to come from occupational therapists employing more assistants to reduce the cost of occupational therapy services. After the therapist has evaluated a patient and designed a treatment plan, the occupational therapy assistant can provide many aspects of the treatment that the therapist prescribed.
Occupational therapy assistants and aides with experience working in an occupational therapy office or other healthcare setting should have the best job opportunities. In addition to overall employment growth, job openings will also result from the need to replace occupational therapy assistants and aides who leave the occupation.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition