Career experts tell you to find a career where your talents meet your passion. Accomplishing that sometimes requires taking a bold step in a new direction. Consider Megan N., who first earned a master’s degree in speech pathology and then became increasingly intrigued about becoming an occupational therapy assistant – an OTA. She took that bold step, and now she’s getting an OTA degree from a two-year occupational therapy assistant program.
“I got into speech pathology because my dad is deaf, Megan says. “Then two of my best friends did occupational therapy as undergrads, and I really liked hearing them talk about it. They had already gone on to start their jobs, so it was really appealing to me. I liked having all those different client options and understanding how to help with different diagnoses.”
What’s an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?
One description of occupational therapy assistants is that they are the link to helping people with developmental, situational, emotional, and physical conditions go from wanting to do something to actually doing it.
Occupational therapy practitioners consider the complete person, including psychological, physical, emotional and social makeup. OTAs work with supervising occupational therapists (OTs) to carry out activities that help their clients live as independently as they possibly can. “Living life to its fullest” is a core principle of occupational therapy assistant programs.
It’s not that Megan didn’t like what she could do as a speech pathologist, but that field didn’t fully fulfill her life-long desire to help people of all ages.
Here’s What Attracted Megan to Her Occupational Therapy Assistant Program
“I wanted to do something a little more fast-paced,” Megan says. “OT – occupational therapy – is just a broader range of clients. We have people with strokes, Down syndrome, autism. You can work in so many different settings. That’s why I decided to switch to OTA.”
Here are three examples of how Megan can offer hope and help after completing her OTA degree:
The Increasing Importance of OT in Today’s Healthcare Arena
The 2019 study Occupational Therapy and Primary Care offers evidence that having occupational therapy practitioners in multi-professional teams can help integrate available health and social services to better effect.
Another study by health policy researchers found that occupational therapy was the only spending category where additional spending has helped prevent hospital lower readmission for cases of heart failure, pneumonia, and heart attack.
Megan’s Future as an OTA is Bright
One result of such findings is the increase in demand for OT professionals, especially occupational therapy assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September 2020, OTAs represent the nation’s 4th fastest growing profession, and the job outlook for OTAs is for 35% growth between 2019 and 2029.
The career site Salary.com puts the average national salary for OTAs between $54,054 and $65,916. Newly graduated OTAs typically earn $45,000 or more.
Earning the OTA Degree at Cleveland University-Kansas City
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC offers a 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 helps ensure career confidence through supervised multiple-month fieldwork experiences. (More about OTA fieldwork here.)
Other features of the A.A.S in Occupational Therapy Assistant program at CUKC:
“CUKC is a great school, and it’s very professional,” Megan says. “All the people are nice and helpful, the staff is great, and I like the small class size.”
Request information to learn about the CUKC occupational therapy assistant program, and download the free career eBook today: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.