Imagine yourself as an adult recovering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) who wants to get back to their life. Or a stroke survivor who now has physical challenges. Or a combat veteran or a battered spouse with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSB). Who’s willing and able to help in these life-interrupting situations? It’s the uniquely skilled people who choose to become an OTA – an occupational therapy assistant.
As an OTA, You Help People from All Walks of Life
An OTA works in partnership with an occupational therapist (OT) to help improve the lives of people struggling with daily living activities due to illness, disability, injury. The uniqueness of what an OTA does is how they put into action the therapy recommendations.
Day to day, OTAs are the ones leading the client in their therapy activities, recommending changes in therapy activities to ensure progress, and personalizing activities as needed according to each client’s capabilities.
OTA Skills: All Types of Employers Want Them
Here’s the deal: When you become an OTA, you’re part of a healthcare profession that bridges a gap in the healthcare delivery system that’s long been underserved.
Too many times, for example, surgical patients aren’t fully prepared for how to recover safely at home. Employees, although physically recovered from an at-work injury, find they lack accommodations at work to continue their career. A person with emotional issues, although equipped with new knowledge, needs his or her family members to know how to offer constructive support and encouragement.
That’s the heart of what occupational therapy is, and at the center of what an OTA does.
“Occupational therapy,” says one person who’s learning to live with a leg amputation, “concentrates on getting you adapted to your new problems and how to solve them so you can return to as much of your former life as possible.”
Here’s a breakout showing where OTAs work, the employment distribution, and salary benchmarks. Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2020.
|Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists||46%||$61,860|
|Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)||17%||$66,750|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||16%||$57,600|
|Home healthcare services||5%||$65,560|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||5%||$52,460|
Occupational Therapy: Rising to Prominence
Thankfully, experts are now seeing how occupational therapy practitioners like those who become an OTA are delivering help, hope, and highly achievable knowledge. Two examples:
The 2-Year Path to Become an OTA
A two-year occupational therapy assistant program results an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. More than 81% of OTAs working with clients regularly have this degree.
Think of earning an OTA degree as having three parts.
So, what’s an OTA degree plan look like? A typical OTA degree curriculum is shown here.
Become an OTA. It’s Rewarding Work.
The demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow by 33% from 2018 to 2028, according to the BLS. This growth is due to value shown by the OT field and the increasing number of senior adults who want to remain active and independent despite age-related conditions. Newly graduated OTAs average $45,000, and salaries can go higher in high-demand states like Texas and Virginia.
Finally, occupational therapy assistants are in the top-20 of a list of “best health care support jobs” published yearly by US News and World Report. The ranking looks at career growth, salary, and work-life balance.
The OTA Degree Program at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC is an ideal place to begin your healthcare education. The accelerated Associate of Applied Science (AAS degree) in Occupational Therapy Assistant at CUKC includes prerequisite classes, 16 core OTA courses, and the four-to-five months of supervised fieldwork education.
In the CUKC OTA program, hands-on instruction is the norm, aided by experienced OTA faculty and an on-campus simulated living quarters’ lab. Our goal is to get you eligible to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) – a designation that today’s employers want to see.
Not sure when you’ll begin school? CUKC classes start in spring, summer, or fall.