Occupational therapy assistants or OTAs on average make about $66,250 per year according to bls.gov, but OTA salary isn’t that straight forward.
OTA salary is based on the experience level, state, city, position (full-time, part-time, et), and setting. It’s difficult to really say how much OTAs make, but in this article I talk about everything you need to know to better understand OTA salary.
Table of Contents
What’s the average salary for most OTAs
The chart below will give you a rough estimate of how much OTs make in the united states. This information is based on census data, so it’s a rough estimate based on OTAs who work in a variety of different settings.
As you can see the median rate is $64,250 per year with the highest OTAs making around $85k per year and the lowest around $47k per year.
|Hourly Wage||$ 23.05||$ 27.63||$ 30.89||$ 36.67||$ 41.15|
|Annual Wage||$ 47,940||$ 57,470||$ 64,250||$ 76,270||$ 85,580|
What states pay the best?
BLS states that the top paying state for OTA is California, and in my experience this is correct. In the chart below, the top states for OTA salary are listed, but they’re also the most expensive states to live in.
In my opinion, Texas and Nevada are the highest paying states if you include taxes and the cost of home ownership, but you should also consider living in higher paying cities like Las Vegas and Austin.
|State||Average hourly rate||Average yearly rate|
|California||$ 38.78||$ 80,670|
|New Jersey||$ 37.04||$ 77,050|
|Texas||$ 35.94||$ 74,750|
|Maryland||$ 34.53||$ 71,810|
|Delaware||$ 34.31||$ 71,360|
What’s the highest pay for OTAs?
The highest average pay for OTAs according to the BLS is $41/per hour, but some OTAs may make up to $45 per hour if they live in a higher-paying location like the Bay Area in California.
In other cities, you can still make nearly $40-45 per hour if you work per diem, but you usually won’t get any benefits like health insurance and paid time off.
Top paying cities for Occupational Therapy Assistants
The top paying city for occupational therapy assistants is San Francisco and Oakland California. The highest-paying cities are usually easy to determine based on how many hospitals there are in a city.
The higher number of hospitals, the higher the competition for employment, and the easier it will be to find a higher paying job.
|Cities||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$ 45.47||$ 94,590|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$ 44.33||$ 92,200|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||$ 40.92||$ 85,120|
|Modesto, CA||$ 40.05||$ 83,300|
|Bakersfield, CA||$ 39.30||$ 81,750|
|Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA||$ 38.82||$ 80,740|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||$ 38.64||$ 80,380|
|Austin-Round Rock, TX||$ 38.39||$ 79,840|
|Texarkana, TX-AR||$ 37.77||$ 78,570|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||$ 37.71||$ 78,440|
What’s the highest paying setting for OTAs
The highest paying setting for an OTA is someone owns their owns and runs a business. This could be someone who owns an outpatient clinic or assisted living home.
The next highest paying setting is usually hospitals, acute rehab and skilled nursing facilities, but it usually depends on the location.
Listed below are the highest-paying settings according to the bls.gov, but this doesn’t take in account the location of employment.
|Industry||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage (2)|
|Management||$ 42.26||$ 87,900|
|Assisted Living Facilities||$ 37.84||$ 78,710|
|Home Health||$ 36.36||$ 75,630|
|Hospitals||$ 35.51||$ 73,860|
|Skilled Nursing Facilities||$ 34.26||$ 71,250|
Worse paying states for OTAs
The lowest paying areas for OTAs include Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Indiana, and Utah. It makes sense why OTAs don’t make as much money in these states because of the smaller populations, but Utah is a bit of a mystery.
Utah has large population of people, large cities, but the pay remains low, because the state is extremely strategic in paying healthcare workers less. This is actually a good thing, because the cost of healthcare is also less in Utah, making it a great place to live.
But if you want to make a lot of money in Utah as an OTA, you should probably work per diem.
How much do OTAs get paid in your area
The easiest way to find out how much OTAs make in your area is to make contact with them. You can setup up a coaching call with me, and I’d be happy to talk to your more about OTA or OT salary.
Find OTAs on social media like instagram or facebook or call up an OTA in your local acute rehab facility and ask for 2 minutes of the time to discuss what it’s like working as an OTA.
You can also shadow an OT and after your finish your volunteer hours, send them a simple email. That way they can feel better prepared to respond.
Another way is to just email OTAs in your local area.
OTA salary can be confusing because it’s not straightforward, and it’s often hard to find out without asking.
Every facility will try to get the lowest number for your and that’s why it’s best to learn how to negotiate your salary.
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David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.