Close up of an elderly woman in an occupational therapy session

8 Best Alternative Jobs for Occupational Therapy Assistants

Exploring Career Flexibility for OTAs

Close up of an elderly woman in an occupational therapy session                                                                                     

Are you an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) craving a career that offers more flexibility? Perhaps you’re seeking new challenges or a change of pace. The good news is, the skills and experience you’ve honed as an OTA can pave the way for exciting opportunities beyond traditional therapy settings. In this article, we’ll delve into alternative career paths that leverage your OTA background, offering you a roadmap to a more dynamic and fulfilling career. Whether you’re intrigued by the idea of exploring new specialties or curious about non-traditional roles, this guide is designed to inspire and inform your next career move. And if you’re interested in learning more about specialized OTA fields, check out our article on the top OTA specialties for additional insights and if you’re just starting out, learn how to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) now.

1. Rehabilitation Aide

Rehabilitation aides assist occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals in providing therapy services to patients recovering from injuries or illnesses. They work under the supervision of licensed therapists to support patients in regaining mobility, strength, and independence.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Assist patients with therapeutic exercises and activities.
  • Set up and maintain therapy equipment and supplies.
  • Monitor and report patient progress to therapists.
  • Provide emotional support and encouragement to patients.
  • Assist with administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments and documenting patient information.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to follow instructions and work as part of a team.
  • Basic understanding of anatomy and physiology.
  • Physical stamina to assist patients with mobility and exercises.

Settings: Rehabilitation aides typically work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their knowledge of therapeutic techniques and patient care to excel as rehabilitation aides. This role offers hands-on experience working with patients and can serve as a stepping-stone to further advancement in the field of rehabilitation therapy.

Career Advancement: With additional education and training, rehabilitation aides can pursue careers as occupational therapy assistants or pursue specialized roles within rehabilitation therapy.

2. Activity Director

Activity directors are responsible for planning and organizing recreational and therapeutic activities for individuals in various settings, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and community centers. They aim to enhance the physical, emotional, and social well-being of participants through engaging and meaningful activities.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Develop and implement activity programs based on the interests and needs of participants.
  • Coordinate and supervise staff and volunteers involved in activity programs.
  • Evaluate participant responses to activities and adjust programs accordingly.
  • Maintain records of activities and participant attendance.
  • Ensure compliance with regulations and safety standards.

Close up of a medical professional typing on a laptop

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, leisure studies, or a related field.
  • Creativity and enthusiasm for designing engaging activities.
  • Strong organizational and leadership skills.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities.
  • Knowledge of therapeutic techniques and principles is beneficial.

Settings: Activity directors work in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and community centers.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their understanding of therapeutic interventions and group dynamics to excel as activity directors. Their ability to create meaningful activities that promote physical and mental well-being aligns well with the responsibilities of this role.

Career Advancement: Activity directors can advance their careers by pursuing certifications in recreational therapy or related fields. They may also seek opportunities in program management or administration within healthcare or community organizations.

3. Recreation Therapist

Recreation therapists, also known as therapeutic recreation specialists, use recreational activities to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being of individuals with disabilities, illnesses, or injuries. They assess clients’ needs, develop treatment plans, and implement therapeutic activities to achieve specific goals.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Conduct assessments to identify clients’ strengths, interests, and needs.
  • Develop individualized treatment plans that incorporate recreational activities.
  • Lead group and individual therapy sessions using a variety of recreational activities.
  • Monitor and document clients’ progress and adjust treatment plans as needed.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure holistic care for clients.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field.
  • Certification as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) may be required.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Ability to create and adapt activities to meet clients’ needs.
  • Knowledge of therapeutic techniques and principles.

Settings: Recreation therapists work in various settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, and community agencies.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their knowledge of therapeutic activities and group dynamics to excel as recreation therapists. Their understanding of the impact of meaningful activities on individuals’ well-being is highly relevant to this role.

Career Advancement: Recreation therapists can advance their careers by pursuing advanced degrees, obtaining specialized certifications, or taking on leadership roles within their organizations. They may also explore opportunities in program development or research in recreational therapy.

Medical professional speaking with a sales man in a hospital

4. Medical Sales Representative

Medical sales representatives promote and sell medical equipment, devices, and pharmaceutical products to healthcare facilities, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. They educate customers about the features and benefits of their products and build relationships to drive sales.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Identify and contact potential customers, such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices.
  • Present product information and demonstrate product use to healthcare professionals.
  • Attend conferences and trade shows to promote products and gather market intelligence.
  • Collaborate with sales team members and other departments to meet sales targets.
  • Maintain relationships with existing customers and provide ongoing support.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field.
  • Strong sales and negotiation skills.
  • Excellent communication and presentation abilities.
  • Knowledge of medical terminology and healthcare industry trends.
  • Ability to work independently and travel frequently.

Settings: Medical sales representatives work for pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other healthcare product suppliers.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their strong communication skills and understanding of healthcare practices to excel as medical sales representatives. Their ability to educate and build rapport with healthcare professionals is valuable in this role.

Career Advancement: Medical sales representatives can advance their careers by pursuing leadership roles, such as sales manager or regional sales director. They may also transition into roles in marketing, product development, or strategic planning within the healthcare industry.

5. Patient Advocate

Patient advocates work on behalf of patients to ensure they receive the best possible care and support. They help patients navigate the healthcare system, understand their rights, and advocate for their needs and preferences.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Educate patients about their healthcare rights and options.
  • Assist patients in understanding medical information and making informed decisions.
  • Advocate for patients’ needs and preferences with healthcare providers and insurance companies.
  • Help patients resolve conflicts or complaints related to their care.
  • Provide emotional support and guidance to patients and their families.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Empathy and compassion for patients’ experiences.
  • Knowledge of healthcare policies and regulations.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and professionalism.
  • Experience in healthcare or social services is beneficial.

Settings: Patient advocates work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and advocacy organizations.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their understanding of patient care and advocacy to excel as patient advocates. Their ability to communicate effectively and empathize with patients can make a significant difference in advocating for patients’ needs.

Career Advancement: Patient advocates can advance their careers by specializing in specific patient populations or healthcare areas. They may also pursue advanced degrees in healthcare administration or become certified as patient advocates.

Close up of a woman with trays of healthy food for wellness

6. Wellness Coordinator

Wellness coordinators develop and implement programs to promote health and wellness in individuals and communities. They assess needs, plan activities, and educate participants about healthy lifestyle choices.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Assess individuals’ health needs and develop wellness plans.
  • Coordinate wellness programs and activities, such as fitness classes, nutrition seminars, and stress management workshops.
  • Educate participants about health risks and preventive measures.
  • Monitor participants’ progress and adjust programs as needed.
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals and community organizations to promote wellness.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in health promotion, wellness management, or a related field.
  • Knowledge of health and wellness principles and practices.
  • Strong organizational and leadership skills.
  • Excellent communication and presentation abilities.
  • Experience in health education or program coordination is beneficial.

Settings: Wellness coordinators work in various settings, including corporate wellness programs, healthcare facilities, fitness centers, and community organizations.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their knowledge of health promotion and education to excel as wellness coordinators. Their ability to develop individualized plans and motivate individuals to achieve their health goals is highly valuable in this role.

Career Advancement: Wellness coordinators can advance their careers by obtaining certifications in wellness coaching or related fields. They may also pursue advanced degrees in health promotion or move into leadership roles within wellness programs or organizations.

7. Home Health Aide Supervisor

Home health aide supervisors oversee and coordinate the activities of home health aides who provide care to individuals in their homes. They ensure that care plans are followed and that clients receive high-quality, personalized care.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Supervise home health aides and provide guidance and support.
  • Develop care plans in collaboration with healthcare professionals and clients’ families.
  • Monitor clients’ progress and update care plans as needed.
  • Ensure that home health aides comply with regulations and company policies.
  • Communicate with clients’ families and healthcare providers to coordinate care.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • High school diploma or equivalent (some positions may require additional education or certification).
  • Experience as a home health aide or in a related role.
  • Strong leadership and communication skills.
  • Knowledge of home healthcare practices and regulations.
  • Compassion and empathy for clients and their families.

Settings: Home health aide supervisors work for home healthcare agencies, hospice programs, and other organizations that provide in-home care services.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their understanding of client care and supervision to excel as home health aide supervisors. Their ability to develop care plans and communicate effectively with clients and families is essential in this role.

Career Advancement: Home health aide supervisors can advance their careers by pursuing certifications in home healthcare management or related fields. They may also move into managerial or administrative roles within home healthcare agencies.

Rehabilitation counselor speaking with an injured woman

8. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Vocational rehabilitation counselors help individuals with disabilities or injuries find and maintain employment. They assess clients’ skills and abilities, provide vocational counseling, and coordinate job training and placement services.

Tasks and Duties:

  • Evaluate clients’ strengths, limitations, and vocational goals.
  • Develop individualized vocational rehabilitation plans.
  • Provide counseling and guidance to help clients overcome barriers to employment.
  • Coordinate job training, job placement, and accommodation services.
  • Monitor clients’ progress and adjust plans as needed.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field.
  • Certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) may be required.
  • Strong counseling and communication skills.
  • Knowledge of vocational assessment tools and job placement strategies.
  • Understanding of disability rights and accommodations.

Settings: Vocational rehabilitation counselors work in state vocational rehabilitation agencies, private rehabilitation companies, and nonprofit organizations.

Leveraging OTA Skills: OTAs can leverage their understanding of disabilities and rehabilitation principles to excel as vocational rehabilitation counselors. Their ability to assess clients’ needs and develop personalized plans aligns well with the responsibilities of this role.

Career Advancement: Vocational rehabilitation counselors can advance their careers by pursuing advanced certifications or degrees in rehabilitation counseling or related fields. They may also specialize in working with specific populations or transition into roles in vocational education or counseling.

Get Started on Your Journey Today!

For Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) looking for career flexibility and growth, there are several alternative job options to explore. These include Rehabilitation Aide, Activity Director, Recreation Therapist, Medical Sales Representative, Patient Advocate, Wellness Coordinator, Home Health Aide Supervisor, and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Each role allows OTAs to leverage their skills and experience in new and exciting ways, offering opportunities to work in different settings and with diverse populations. Consider these alternative careers as viable paths that can provide new challenges and professional growth. Your OTA background has equipped you with valuable skills that are transferable to these roles, making you well-prepared to succeed and make a meaningful impact in various fields.

If you’re interested in exploring these alternative careers, seek further information or additional training to help you transition smoothly. Speak with a career counselor or explore educational programs that can enhance your skills and qualifications. Your experience as an OTA has set a strong foundation, and furthering your knowledge can open doors to new opportunities. Brookline College offers a comprehensive Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the field. The program provides hands-on training, clinical experience, and in-depth coursework covering topics from anatomy and physiology to therapeutic techniques and patient care. Graduates of Brookline College’s OTA program are well-prepared to enter the workforce as competent and compassionate OTAs, ready to make a positive impact on the lives of their patients and explore various career opportunities within healthcare.