Helping people of all ages live their best possible lives is an excellent reason to learn all you can about the occupational therapy profession and the role of an occupational therapy assistant (OTA). The two-year OTA degree is the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
Both the occupational therapist (OT) and an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) help people of all ages meet their life challenges, ranging from developmental to emotional difficulties. Occupational therapy helps people live life to its fullest – countering injury, illness, disability, developmental, and mental/emotional circumstances or conditions.
Occupational therapy practitioners consider the environment (context) and current and future abilities needed for desired tasks. OTAs, who work primarily one-on-one with clients, excel at developing trust, communicating with clients at their level, showing empathy and understanding, and responding appropriately to questions and concerns.
In close coordination with their OT partner, OTAs work directly with clients. So, while occupational therapists take the lead in developing a therapy plan, OTAs spend much of their time initiating and instructing therapy activities. Because they get to know their clients, OTAs can personalize activities and strategies.
(Go here to see how the roles of Occupational Therapists and OTAs differ.)
1. Children and Youth
Occupational therapy can help with restricted or delayed development. That’s when the skills and knowledge of occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) can bring help and hope.
Imagine being able to help:
2. Health and Wellness
In this practice area, your OTA degree can take short- and long-term forms, such as
For OTAs, rehabilitation means addressing the needs of those recovering from injuries or illnesses or adapting to cognitive impairment. Occupational therapy assistants focus on how one’s life activities are affected and work to get a person more functional on a day-to-day basis.
Rehabilitation plans often include activities that help individuals return to improved psychological and social health.
An OTA’s involvement may include showing how family members can be part of the therapy or helping coordinate care from other healthcare practitioners.
4. Productive Aging
Senior adults – typically those age 62+ – increasingly want to stay active, yet they still face aging-related health problems. Did you know that 65% of people over age 80 in the U.S have five to nine health ailments? Did you realize over 90% of senior adults intend to stay in their current homes and may need instruction about home modifications or adaptive tools/technologies?
Occupational therapists and OTAs can help people navigate adaptions to their lifestyles and assess the home environment to ensure safety and quality of life.
5. Mental/Emotional Wellbeing
Occupational therapy practitioners often care for those with drug or alcohol issues or who are challenged by emotional or mental disorders and conditions. OTs and OTAs can help their clients use countering strategies and find helpful community resources.
6. Work and Industry
For clients desiring to return to the jobs they love, OTs and OTAs can work with employers to modify or adapt work situations to meet client concerns and employer expectations.
Getting to see the difference they make in people’s lives is one of the top reasons OTAs love what they do.
A 2022 report by U.S. News & World Report says those choosing to become an OTA are in one of the “best health care support jobs” available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects OTA jobs will have double-digit growth from 2021 to 2031.
There are also many work settings:
As you might expect, job demand translates into higher annual salaries. Today, a newly graduated and certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) can earn $45,000 and $47,000 (plus benefits), according to Salary.com. The average salary for all OTAs in the workforce is between $55,800 and $61,900.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburban city within the Kansas City region. CUKC offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S. degree) in Occupational Therapy Assistant that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Our OTA degree can be completed within two years.
CUKC presents its coursework in sequential 8-week modules year-round. Our degree program includes the four-to-five months of required fieldwork experience.
Other features of the CUKC program:
Connect with an admissions advisor today to learn more about our OTA degree program. You’ll also appreciate the insights from our free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.