Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between an OT and an OTA

 OT vs OTA

“OT” and “OTA” both stand for “occupational therapist” and “occupational therapist assistant/aide,” respectively. They are a group of professionals in the occupational therapy industry working with people of all ages afflicted with diseases, injuries, and illnesses. Their main job is to help these people recover and regain their normal skills.

Occupational therapists and assistants/aides usually work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other health service locations.

The main differences between occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants are defined in terms of rank, education, skills, and scope of responsibilities.

Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapist Assistants/Aides: A General Overview

Occupational therapists are the main players in the practice of occupational therapy. They primarily deal with people afflicted with a development illness. Occupational therapists interact with the patients directly and regularly, observe and evaluate their condition, and then recommend treatment. Conducting interviews with patients and looking into their medical records are also part of the duties of occupational therapists as these enable them to determine the best treatment modality. The therapist needs to explain to the patient and his/her significant others the treatment that has to be done, and then carries out that treatment himself/herself.

Occupational therapist assistants/aides, on the other hand, are those people who assist occupational therapists in carrying out their tasks. They prepare the equipment and other essentials the occupational therapist needs to perform a particular test, and they also provide support to the OT all throughout the procedure. Occupational therapist assistants interact with the patients, too. In fact, they tend to interact more with the patients (and on a more personal level) than their superiors, the occupational therapists. OTAs try to keep the patients as comfortable as possible.

OT and OTAs: Educational Background

To become an occupational therapist, one must complete a higher form of education (preferably a master’s degree) and have a long experience in the industry. To become an occupational therapist assistant, one only needs an associate’s degree and some experience in a clinical setting.

Certification and licenses for the two positions can be an advantage but are not really required.  Occupational therapists and the assistant/aides obtain their respective certifications from the National Board for Certification. Occupational therapists are then called “Occupational Therapist Registered,” while their assistants are, “Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant.”

Desired Attitudes and Skills of OTs and OTAs:

Occupational therapists must develop good interpersonal relationships and communication skills (verbal and written). Being good in research is a big plus. OTs must be compassionate, patient, and attentive as well.

Occupational therapist assistants must, likewise, possess good interpersonal and communication skills. They must be keen, oriented to detail, friendly, and compassionate. It’s important for OTAs to be strong physically, too, since they will be assisting the patients in performing some activities.


  1. Occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants are people who work with people with disabilities, illnesses, and injuries. They help people cope and regain their skills for them to have a better quality of life.
  2. The occupational therapist is ranked higher than an occupational therapist assistant/aide. The occupational therapist is the one in charge of the treatment and the main person concerned about all aspects of the patient. The assistant is the person who carries out instructions from the therapist.
  3. The occupational therapist should at least have a master’s degree in occupational therapy while an assistant needs only to have an associate’s degree in the same industry. Certifications for both positions are optional but advantageous for many purposes. The National Board for Certification is the only agency that gives the certifications for both positions.
  4. An occupational therapist has more responsibilities compared to an assistant/aide. OTs do more things.  The therapists interact with their patients regularly, while their assistants are in the constant presence of the patients.

Sharing is caring!

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.


  1. Re: Difference between an OT and an OTA
    There is a major difference between an OT aide and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Besides acquiring an associates degree, COTA’s have more than “some” experience in a clinical setting. When I went to school I experienced 2 pre-clinical weeks and two 6- week clinicals -each full-time. I needed to pass a national board exam and become licensed in my state. COTA’s are required to take 36 continuing education hours every three years to maintain their certification. As a COTA we treat patients and document their progress, following the OTR’s Plan of Care. Yes, we are their assistant but we are also treating clinicians. An OT aide on the other hand are trained on site and only require a high school education. They do not provide therapy. They assist the OTR and COTA in non-clinical ways.

    • Thank you, Ms. Burleigh, for clarifying that a COTA is different from an OT aide. I am at the midpoint of my OTA education and will probably have reason to explain what my career entails for many years, but I’ll talk about it proudly and positively.

  2. This article is extremely poorly written and researched. A COTA does not “set up” equipment for an OT and “make the patient comfortable”. A COTA develops and provides the treatment based on an evaluation and goals set by the OT. The OT is also not a “superior”. The OT supervises the progress and goals of a patient, but is rarely the direct supervisor. The mindset depicted in this article is appalling!! Please look for your OT/OTA info somewhere else!

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about : , , ,
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder