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Occupational Therapist & Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary Guide

Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN
April 2, 2024
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Exploring careers in healthcare reveals a variety of paths one can take, each with its own unique set of roles, responsibilities, and rewards. Among these, the fields of occupational therapy offer promising opportunities for those interested in making a significant impact on individuals' lives through therapeutic practices. 

Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) play crucial roles in helping patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. Check out our OT Career Guide for more information on this fulfilling career. 

Before we dive into the intricacies of their salaries, let's briefly outline what OTs and OTAs are and how they differ.

What is the Difference Between an Occupational Therapist (OT) vs Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)?

The primary distinction between an OT and an OTA lies in their education and scope of practice. 

Occupational Therapist: OTs require a master's degree or higher in occupational therapy and must pass a national examination to become licensed. They are responsible for assessing patients and developing treatment plans. 

Occupational Therapy Assistant: OTAs, on the other hand, typically hold an associate degree and work under the supervision of OTs to implement treatment plans.

Achieving a higher tier of salary as an OT involves obtaining specialized certifications, gaining years of experience, and sometimes pursuing further education. OTAs can also enhance their earning potential by advancing their skills, gaining experience in specialized areas, and taking on supervisory roles.

How Much Does an Occupational Therapist Make?

The salary for Occupational Therapists can vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience, and the setting in which they work. On average, OTs can expect to earn between $63,320 and $123,870 annually. The median annual wage is $93,180, which equals $44.80/hour. 

The financial compensation for OTs reflects the critical nature of their work and the requisite skill set, encompassing a broad spectrum influenced by several pivotal factors:


Primarily, the annual salary range for Occupational Therapists is subject to variation based on geographical location. Urban areas and regions with a higher cost of living typically offer higher salaries to reflect the increased living expenses. 


Experience levels play a crucial role in determining an OT's salary. Entry-level positions might start at the lower end of the salary range, but with time, continued education, and accumulated on-the-job experience, OTs can see substantial growth in their earnings. Specializations within the field of occupational therapy, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or physical rehabilitation, can also lead to higher wages due to the specialized skills and knowledge required.


Employment settings also contribute to the variability in OT salaries. OTs working in specialized healthcare facilities, such as acute care hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and private clinics, may command higher salaries compared to those in public health or educational settings. 

How Much Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Make?

Occupational Therapy Assistants also see a range in salaries based on similar factors. The typical annual salary for OTAs lies between $25,100 and $68,070. While the median annual wage of $37,060 for Occupational Therapy Assistants provides a general guideline, the actual earnings can significantly differ based on a number of factors, including location, experience, education, specialization, and the specific needs of the employment setting. 

As the field continues to evolve and expand, the potential for Occupational Therapy Assistants to increase their earning capacity and professional development opportunities likewise grows, reflecting the indispensable role they play in delivering compassionate and effective care to those in need.

What are the top-paying states for OTs?

OTs find the highest average yearly salaries in states such as California, Nevada, and New Jersey. Salaries in these states can range from $104,710 to $109,220 annually.

Salary Range Considerations:

Factors influencing these ranges include the cost of living, demand for occupational therapy services, and the availability of professionals in the area.

What are the top-paying states for OTAs?

For OTAs, states like Texas, California, and New Jersey offer the highest average yearly salaries, ranging from $ 74,750 to $ 80,670.

Salary Range Considerations:

Similar to OTs, the salaries for OTAs are influenced by local demand, cost of living, and competition within the field.

Does seasonality impact pay for Occupational Therapists/OTAs?

While occupational therapy services are in consistent demand throughout the year, there can be fluctuations based on seasonal needs, particularly in areas like school-based therapy or certain travel assignments.

What is the job outlook like for Occupational Therapists/OTAs?

The job outlook for both OTs and OTAs is positive, with expected growth rates higher than the average for all occupations in the next ten years. OT positions are expected to grow by 12%, while OTA jobs are increasing by 23%. This growth is driven by an aging population, increased recognition of the benefits of occupational therapy services, and expanded coverage by health insurance.

Travel Occupational Therapist Salary

Travel Occupational Therapists often enjoy higher salaries compared to their permanently placed counterparts due to the demand in high-need areas. The average salary for traveling OTs is $94,375 annually, not including potential bonuses and benefits.

Travel Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary

Similarly, traveling OTAs can expect to earn more than staff OTAs, with salaries averaging $45,566 annually along with additional benefits and allowances.

Find an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant Job with Trusted Health

Choosing a career in occupational therapy not only offers the satisfaction of making a tangible difference in people's lives but also provides a lucrative and stable career path. When you're drawn to the flexibility of travel assignments, Trusted Health is here to help you find the perfect fit.  Explore a wealth of opportunities and take the next step in your career with us!

Find Occupational Therapist Jobs with Trusted Health

Find Occupational Therapy Assistant Jobs with Trusted Health

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