YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Occupational therapy is a growing health career with a low unemployment rate. The quickest way to get into the field is by becoming an occupational therapy assistant (OTA).
An OTA helps injured people, including those who have been in accidents or suffered from strokes, regain life skills. They are directed by the occupational therapist and come up with ways to help people work back into the routine of living.
“We take those goals and run with it. If a goal is to have a patient living at home, we work on that,” said Nancy Irwin, an OTA.
The profession is expected grow, creating 14,000 new jobs before 2024.
“We’re on the cusp of baby boomers getting older. We have medicine that’s making people last longer, and we are in the forefront of helping people live independently and having their life quality,” Irwin said.
OTAs are in a position to change people’s lives by helping them get back the ability to do something they used to think was simple.
“Do you brush your teeth? Are you a grandma? Do you go golfing? We help people become independent so they can do all those things that are important to them. That make up their daily living.”
OTAs need a two-year degree, which they can get at several schools, including Kent State branches in East Liverpool and Ashtabula. After the two-year degree, they have to pass a board test and apply for a license through the State of Ohio.
There is also plenty of room for advancement. OTAs need bachelor’s and master’s degrees in order to become an occupational therapist.
Irwin is always asked what the difference is between an occupational therapist and a physical therapist.
“PT will teach you how to walk. We’ll teach you how to dance,” she said.
For more information about OTAs and to see available job openings, visit the Ohio Means Jobs website.