From COTA to ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONAL
Follow Jeffery's journey from occupational therapy assistant to assistive technology professional!
Best advice for studying for the ATP exam?
I used the ATP prep courses by Michelle Lange on occupationaltherapy.com. Each course gives you a basic understanding of the content. I also used the ATP mometrix flashcards. These were great for a quick study session on the road. Clinical knowledge and knowing your diagnoses and how they present helps!
What was the exam process? (how many hours did you study, how many hours for test, is the test multiple choice etc)
The test has 200 questions and is multiple choice. It is delivered by RESNA via a Prometric testing site near you. I studied a total of 15-20 hours.
If you visit the Resna website you can find a breakdown of the test content as well as information on exam eligibility and the application process.
What inspired you to take the ATP test?
I previously worked as a support coach in group homes and independent living. I worked with individuals across the lifespan who utilized assistive tech in their daily lives. I also participated in a wheelchair clinic during my clinicals in OTA school, as well as working with an individual who used speech to text software. All of this combined paved the way for me.
You currently work as a wheelchair tech, can you talk a little about that? How did you get started, pros/cons, who can do that role?
After graduating OTA school and passing the exam, the employment opportunities were limited. My original plan was to work in SNF's for a bit, gain some experience as a COTA and try to move on to an ATP position in the future. After landing only PRN positions, I decided to see if I can get my foot in the door as a tech for a CRT company. Yes, the pay is not great (17-22hr) but the experience will be more than worth it. Also, I can build connections within the CRT company as well as the rehab staff at several nursing facilities throughout the state.
To be a tech, you should be mechanically inclined. There's a lot to learn initially and can be a little overwhelming. I was given 2 months on the job training which I thought was sufficient.
What is a typical day for you as a tech? What will a typical day be like as an ATP?
A typical day for me as a tech consists of grabbing my schedule for the day, loading parts or new wheelchairs onto my van, and working throughout the state in SNF's, private homes and group homes. I do repairs on power chairs and manual chairs, modifications that the ATP and therapist deem necessary for the patient, and I also do fittings for new chairs. On top of that, I get quotes from various vendors for needed parts after an eval, complete documentation on the work order, and submit everything to funding. I work Monday-Friday with paid holiday's off.
Is there any remote time to your role?
There is no remote time as a road tech. CRT companies do offer remote tech positions but they do require experience to troubleshoot issues over the phone and via "live lens."
Is there any sales in your role?
The ATP position at my place of employment is a sales position.
What is a tech salary range and what will be an ATP salary range?
A tech hourly wage is anywhere between 17-22 /hr.
The ATP position is a base salary plus commission on each chair sale. Motivated ATP's in the CRT industry with a large referral base make upwards of 100k/yr or more.
Any tips for getting a tech or ATP position?
Anybody who is mechanically inclined and/or has a clinical background would be a good fit for a tech position. Especially if you have basic knowledge of manual and power wheelchair operation/functions and minor adjustments. As I said previously, there is 2 months of on the job training. So any gaps in knowledge should be filled.
As far as an ATP position goes, you definitely need the required AT contact hours before even thinking about applying for the exam. Make sure you can verify this first as Resna requires it (check the Resna website). After passing the exam, you can look into the two largest CRT companies in the US, which are National Seating & Mobility & Numotion if you're interested in working with CRT. School systems also hire ATP's to work with students. There's various options. Explore your opportunities!
Do you think this would be a good position for Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapists, COTAs and PTAs?
I think this is an excellent career track if they're interested!
Thank you to Jeffery Miller for sharing his story on how he transitioned from occupational therapy assistant to wheelchair tech and now to assistive technology professional!
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