When searching for career options, there are many fields to consider. However, if you consistently find yourself coming back to healthcare, there’s probably a good reason – you like to help people! If that sounds like you, then healthcare is exactly where you need to be, and a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) might be perfect for you.
So, the next logical question is, “Do I need an OTA degree?” The answer to the question above is yes; you must have a degree to work as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. For the reasons behind why an OTA degree is necessary, let’s examine it more closely. An OTA offers occupational therapy services to those who have recently been injured, those suffering from debilitating conditions like Parkinson’s disease, and those with developmental disorders like autism.
Whether it’s helping a recently injured patient navigate a move from a wheelchair into a vehicle, or assisting someone with a hand injury as they re-learn how to brush their teeth, or improving the daily life activities of an autistic child, all are important. Proper training is critical to help patients achieve a quality of life that they might not otherwise reach without an OTA. The only place to receive that training is in an accredited OTA degree program.
OTA Degree Accreditation
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) regulates the educational curriculum for OTA degrees. If you do not attend an AOTA-accredited institution, you cannot sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupation Therapy exam. Without that certification, you cannot work as an OTA anywhere in the United States. That means when you are researching your educational options, you must choose your college or university carefully.
Education for an OTA Degree
If you’re curious about what degree is needed to become an OTA, the answer is straightforward. There is a specific OTA degree offered at many educational institutions across the country.
Typically, it’s a two-year, associate-degree program that prepares you for the NBCOT exam, and ultimately, for a rewarding career helping others. Because of the wide range of situations that an OTA may face, their training must be extensive.
Working toward your degree may include classwork in mental health, therapeutic interventions as well as a substantial amount of fieldwork. With the degree in hand, the only thing that an OTA cannot do is diagnose an illness, or develop a plan of treatment. Those two activities must be conducted under the supervision of an occupational therapist (OT). Beyond that, there is a tremendous amount of freedom in carrying outpatient care.
Motivation to Become an OTA
So, what degree do you need to need to become an OTA? It’s the one that will open the door to a stable career. If you are debating whether the OTA degree is the right path for you, consider the current salary ranges for those with an OTA degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of employment opportunities for OTAs is expected to increase by more than 29percent between now and 2026. And, with an average annual salary of nearing $60,000, there is no better time than right now to pursue a career in this field.
Earn Your OTA Degree at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) offers an A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program. The OTA program has applied for accreditation and been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
OTA courses are delivered in sequential 8-week courses year-round allowing for students to complete the program in two years. Students enter the program three times per year.
CUKC is a nonprofit, healthcare-focused university established in 1922. Located on 34 acres of lush, green space in Overland Park, Kansas, CUKC is an ideal place to begin your healthcare education.
Contact the Office of Admissions for more information today or get your OTA degree questions answered in the free ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.