UPDATED MAY 25, 2021
If what you want is a job where you’ve already done a lot of the actual “doing” while you’re in college, an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) job could give you the career you seek. By choosing an accredited occupational therapy assistant degree program, you’ll find that fieldwork experiences are built into the two-year degree plan.
You can thank the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) for making in-the-field work experiences part of occupational therapy assistant courses. In fact, fieldwork covers about six to seven months of an expected two-year degree.
Real-life fieldwork, supervised by specially trained fieldwork instructors, helps to ensure that your in-class knowledge translates into the polished skills you’ll use to help people from all walks of life:
In some occupational therapy assistant degree programs, fieldwork begins as soon as the second semester. There are two fieldwork levels, each with different objectives defined by the (AOTA).
The first fieldwork step in an occupational therapy assistant degree program is called Level I fieldwork. Its goal is to ensure you know what to expect and how to work in a client-practitioner setting. The bulk of the learning in Level I is becoming familiar with the methods used to evaluate progress toward treatment and occupational therapy goals.
What You’ll Learn in Level I Fieldwork
Because Level I fieldwork is primarily about learning and understanding the settings occupational therapy provides services, you may not be working directly with individuals. Through observation and in discussions with other OTA students, certified OTAs, and supervising Occupational Therapists (OTs), classroom and lab learning will gain a more profound meaning.
Another part of Level I fieldwork is seeing the full scope of the occupational therapy profession. If your occupational therapy assistant degree program is in a metro area, all of the following work settings may be available:
What You’ll Learn and Do in Level II Fieldwork
In Level II fieldwork, the focus shifts to using occupational therapy skills and sharpening clinical reasoning.
You’ll find yourself delivering various occupational therapy services to individuals while being guided by the fieldwork educator. You and the educator will think through and talk about the activities used. You’ll learn about measuring effectiveness, adaptive tools, techniques, and best practices. You’ll discuss how treatments that were used could be improved in a similar future situation.
Many client scenarios and both traditional and emerging environments are emphasized in Level II fieldwork. Think of it as thorough preparation for a profession that will improve the lives of hundreds of people over your lifetime.
The OTA Career
Two years to an occupational therapy assistant degree that can help so many is a wonderful thing, and it’s a career that allows plenty of room for problem solving and creative thinking.
That unique skill set is one of the reasons an OTA is a top-25 healthcare role with a competitive starting salary that can top $45,000 yearly. The median salary for experienced OTAs is more than $59,000.
You can be on your way toward an occupational therapy career by earning an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree from Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC). The University is a nonprofit, private, health-care focused higher-education institution located in Overland Park, Kansas.
The occupational therapy assistant courses and program at CUKC are designed with insight from practicing OT professionals and employer organizations to ensure a comprehensive, applied degree program that students complete in as little as two years.
The program’s goal is to prepare you to become a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.) The CUKC program includes 16 core OTA courses and the required Level I and Level II fieldwork. The coursework is presented in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects.
Preferred admission to the OTA degree program is available for students who complete all required prerequisite coursework at CUKC and satisfy all OTA program and University considerations. Classes start in spring, summer, and fall of each year.
Request more information today, or download the free CUKC ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.