There’s always a push-and-pull when considering the right career direction: Pay more attention to a career that fits your talents…or go for a career where the pay scale offers long-term rewards. Here’s a path that gives you both: Getting an occupational therapy assistant degree.
Those who are choosing the occupational therapy assistant career love what they do and the personal and professional rewards that come with it.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree: Smart Choice for a Great Future
More commonly known as OTAs, occupational therapy assistants are part of the growing number of healthcare practitioners who are helping those with developmental, emotional, sensory, and physical challenges live their best-possible life.
OTAs are vital in this noble endeavor because OTAs are the ones working one-on-one with their clients. With the occupational therapist designing the therapy and the occupational therapy assistant directing the day-to-day activities, these healthcare pros are filling the gap between a life with a disability or disorder, and life lived better despite them.
What You’ll Do After Earning an Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree
Each client’s therapy plan is highly personalized, taking into account each person’s goals and abilities. The range of training and guidance provided by an OTA is quite diverse:
Occupational therapy in general – and those working in the occupational therapy assistant career field in particular – are making today’s healthcare delivery more effective.
A 2016 report in Medical Care Research and Review studying outcomes for hospital spending categories said occupational therapy showed a “statistically significant association for lower readmission rates” in cases involving heart failure, pneumonia, and heart attacks. Other research indicates occupational therapy early in a child’s life can decrease problems later in life. Each state in the U.S. has an agency responsible for coordinating early intervention services.
The Rewards of a 2-Year Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree
It’s easy to see there’s a great need for OTAs. With today’s healthcare solutions, more people are coming back from severe injuries and adjusting to life after heart attacks, strokes, or traumatic brain injuries. Others with emotional or sensory-induced trauma are learning to enjoy social and family interactions.
Although that sentiment should reassure anyone considering an occupational therapy assistant degree, so should the OTA’s salary range and job prospects. In 2019, salary.com put the average OTA salary at $58,517 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 33% job growth between 2018 and 2028.
The most rewarding part of an occupational therapy assistant career, however, is seeing clients make progress toward their life goals.
Kara K., a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) who works with school-age children, puts it this way in her “Life on the Job” profile by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA):
“A typical day in the life of an elementary school occupational therapy assistant consists of working with all of the children on fine-motor and gross motor skills in a multisensory way. There is nothing more fulfilling than when students achieve milestones.”
Another perspective on the value of an occupational therapy assistant degree is through the profile of Sarah B., a COTA working in a rehabilitation hospital:
“I am responsible for the continuation of care for patients. The patient caseload varies in diagnosis, including stroke, brain injury spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, amputations, motor vehicle accidents…patient ages range from 15 to 100.”
Begin Your Occupational Therapy Assistant Career at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university offering an accelerated, two-year applied science degree: the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
Beyond the class and lab time that introduces knowledge and client skills, our occupational therapy assistant degree program helps ensure career confidence through supervised multiple-month fieldwork experiences. (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). Employers love to see COTA certification because this designation tells employers you’re ready to make a difference in the lives of their clients.
Be sure to check out this six-part blog series on what OTAs do. Plus, click here now to get the free ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.