Going for an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree puts you on track to a career helping people. For those facing the realities of developmental, emotional, physical, or sensory processing challenges, occupational therapy often is the difference between struggling to live their life and achieving their best possible life.
The occupational therapy assistant – commonly known as an OTA – is essential to a client’s success because it’s the OTA who carries out the therapy activities, observes progress, and can shape therapy actions to meet each person’s abilities.
“I have always liked supporting and helping,” says OTA degree student Jacquelyn N. “Occupational therapy treats the whole person.”
OTAs See the Result of Their Work Every Day
The feeling of satisfaction OTAs get in their job comes from:
Doing such important work requires specific personal characteristics. OTAs have a friendly demeanor, are compassionate, can think through problems quickly, and are effective in one-to-one communication. OTAs are detail-minded, possess a great work ethic, and can physically move patients to different therapy positions when needed.
Inside the OTA Degree
Most OTAs who love working one-on-one with clients choose to complete a two-year OTA degree program: the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. More than 81% of OTAs working in the profession today took the two-year, associate degree path, according to a 2018 survey.
An applied science degree in occupational therapy assistant means hands-on learning happens in coordination with classroom learning. After taking 24 hours of required classes like English, psychology, and anatomy/physiology, there are four semesters of professional occupational therapy assistant coursework.
The OTA degree delivers a comprehensive education. Class topics typically include
Plus, In the weeks before graduation, students undergo extensive supervised fieldwork experiences that will hone skills and provide confidence in performing as an OTA.
Accredited OTA Programs Help You Become Successful
OTA degree programs are accredited by the American Council of Occupational Therapy (ACOTE) and will have experienced OTAs as faculty. Their mission is to prepare students to earn the designation of a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). (See more about OTA certification here.)
Don’t worry if the OTA program’s long title makes becoming an OTA sound difficult. Successful OTA graduates say a desire to achieve and a love for interacting with people are the real keys to success.
Is getting an OTA degree worth it? Statistics show an OTA’s salary is high, and the job growth doubles the national average for all jobs. New OTAs can average more than $51,000 per year, depending on geographic demand. OTAs with a few years of experience are seeing yearly salaries up to $63,000, according to Salary.com.
The OTA Degree Program at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas.
The accelerated A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree at CUKC is a two-year program consisting of 16 core courses and the four-to-five months of supervised fieldwork education. Our goal is to get you eligible to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) and prepared for state licensing requirements.
In our OTA degree program, hands-on instruction is the norm, aided by experienced OTA faculty and an on-campus simulated living quarters lab. Classes begin in spring, summer, and fall of each year.
Get your OTA career answers by downloading our free OTA ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.