Remember that feeling of accomplishment you get when looking for one thing, and then finding something even better? Career seeker Bamlaku K. felt that way when he discovered the benefits of an occupational therapy assistant career. At first, ‘Bam’ was attracted to either the chiropractic or nursing professions. The more he learned about the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree, the more he realized that becoming an OTA would give him everything he wanted in a healthcare career in two years time.
A Unique, Flexible, 2-Year Healthcare Degree
Like many, Bam didn’t know too much about the occupational therapy (OT) profession. Then he found out OT practitioners focus on helping people who struggle the most in society – those with developmental, emotional, mental, and physical challenges who want to achieve certain goals, but need specialized help.
Sometimes, the goal is to overcome a cognitive dysfunction due to injury or disease; other times, it’s learning an adaptive strategy for a sensory-processing difficulty. And it was the fact that an occupational therapy assistant career would allow him to work directly with clients in one-on-one therapy that led to his decision about becoming an OTA.
The clinching factor was the two-year format of the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree – the degree choice of more than 80% of OTAs who want to focus primarily on client care, not administrative duties.
“I liked the fact that it’s a two-year program you could finish quickly and then get straight into work,” Bam says. “And then, if you want to get a higher degree after that, you can. So, if I plan to later go all the way up to the occupational therapy degree (OT), then I can still have that opportunity.”
An A.A.S. degree in OTA can also serve as a launch point for later career moves, such as additional certifications. If an OTA decides to become an occupational therapist (OT), there are OTA-to-OT bridge programs that make this possible.
The Wide-open Opportunities of an OTA Career
During his exploration of what an occupational therapy assistant program was about, Bam was excited to see that his OTA education could help clients of all ages live their lives to the fullest. Occupational therapy offers six different areas to make a difference:
“So that’s why I chose OTA,” Bam says. “It encompasses so much that it doesn’t really matter where you start. Just having the freedom to choose the group of people you would like to work with made OTA a better fit for me.”
Occupational Therapy Assistant Career: 4th-fastest Growing Job Area
Finding a career that fits your life goals is a good thing. It’s also reassuring to know the outlook for an occupational therapy assistant career is good, too. OTAs now represent the 4th-fastest-growing profession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job growth for OTAs is projected to increase by more than 35% from 2019 to 2029. That’s because OTAs are finding their talents and skills are needed by many different employers:
Best of all, national salary estimates from Salary.com reflect the demand. Experienced OTAs earn between $53,955 and $65,801 per year. Newly certified OTAs will find salaries in the $45-$48,000 range.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
In addition to class and lab time that introduces knowledge and client skills, our occupational therapy assistant program helps ensure career confidence through supervised multiple-month fieldwork experiences prior to graduation. (More about OTA fieldwork here.)
The CUKC program prepares you for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Certification Examination to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
“I would recommend the OTA program at CUKC because the classroom sizes aren’t too large,” Bam says. “You have time to speak to your teachers one-on-one, and they’re very good when it comes to hands-on learning and teaching. It’s a great, great program.”
Request information to learn about our two-year OTA degree, and download the free career eBook today: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.