Therapist Assistant and Aide Jobs Offer Good Pay with Minimal Education


If you are looking for a job that doesn’t require a lot of schooling and that offers good pay, then a career as a therapist assistant or therapist aide may be the answer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for occupational therapist assistants and aides, and physical therapist assistants and aides will continue to grow much faster than the average.

Not everyone has the money, time, or desire to spend four or more years in college. And in today’s very competitive and lean job market, which is projected to continue for some time, those who want to make the most of their time and money may want to consider a job in the healthcare field. Four health-related professions are among those that offer good pay for a minimal investment in education.

Occupational therapist assistants usually must complete an associate degree or a certificate program, but after a maximum of two years of education, they can often command a median annual income of $42,060, according to the latest figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2006). The highest 10 percent of occupational therapist assistants earned more than $58,270.

Occupational therapist assistants who work in the offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists tend to earn more than those who are employed by nursing care facilities or hospitals. Occupational therapist assistants work under the direction of occupational therapists to provide rehabilitative services to individuals who have physical, mental, emotional, or development impairments. In most states, occupational therapist assistants must pass a national examination and become certified.


If occupational therapy interests you but you don’t want to go to school, then a job as an occupational therapist aide may be more to your liking. These individuals usually receive most of their training on the job. Occupational therapist aides usually prepare materials and equipment that is used during treatment, as well as handle clerical tasks. Aides are not licensed. As of May 2006, the median annual income for occupational therapist aides was $25,000. Although a high school diploma is all that is required for this job, it helps to have performed some volunteer or intern work in the field before applying for a job.

Physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of a physical therapist to help patients improve function and mobility, relieve pain, and overcome disabilities. Therapy sessions can include ultrasound, massage, electrical stimulation, and traction, among other treatments. This job typically requires an associate’s degree, but for two years’ education you can expect a median annual income of $41,360 (May 2006 figure). In most states, physical therapist assistants must take a national examination and become certified. Those who work in home health services tend to make a higher income.

Similar to occupational therapist aides, physical therapist aides work under the careful eye of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. This job requires individuals to organize and prepare materials and equipment for patients’ therapy sessions. Training is typically on the job, and no certification is required. The median annual income is $22,000 (May 2006).

The current and future job outlook for occupational therapist assistants and aides and physical therapist assistants and aides is very promising. These positions require a minimal amount of education or on-the-job training and offer good pay. Given the growing elderly population, the need for the services of these healthcare workers will continue to grow.

Bureau of Labor Statistics