Not liking the idea of a four-year degree, but don’t want to settle for less pay than you deserve? OTA school may be precisely what you’re looking for. OTA is the abbreviation for occupational therapy assistant, one of the fastest-growing healthcare roles available. Best of all, there’s a fast-track way to earn the OTA degree – the 2-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in OTA.
Don’t worry that you’re the only one looking to earn a 2-year degree rather than a bachelor’s degree. Last year, more than 1 million college students chose the associate degree path to a better life. And why not? Colleges are quite aware that students now consider ROI – return on investment – when making their educational choices.
In response, today’s colleges and universities are deliberately packing a lot of workforce skills and specialist-centered knowledge into their 2-year degree programs, and that’s especially true for the applied science degree option. One of these powerful degree choices is the A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
You might think “OTA” is a new thing, but occupational therapy practices have been used for nearly 100 years. What is new is the increasingly wider use of occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) to help people live their best possible lives.
As you’ll learn in OTA school, increased use of OT principles and practices have been shown to reduce hospital re-admissions, improve a person’s emotional and social satisfaction, and provide more levels of care options.
An occupational therapy assistant (OTA) works in partnership with an occupational therapist (OT or OTR). When therapy plans are in place, the OTA carries out the plan’s activities and reports on progress. The scope of what OTAs do varies.
A few examples:
The “applied” part of the OTA degree – making up nearly 70% of the program – centers on mastering all the principles, strategies, skills, and techniques OTAs will use when they’re in the workforce.
After preliminary classes like English, social sciences, communications, and health sciences terminology, students in an OTA school move into professional OTA courses, lab time, and skill-based experiences.
In summary, by opting for an OTA school education, you’re setting yourself to be professionally certified as an OTA in as little as two years. (It’s so worthwhile, more than 84% of OTAs working today chose an OTA school degree program with accreditation by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
The reasons for becoming an OTA typically include the day-to-day variety and getting to witness someone’s progress toward goals. The questions and answers website Quora.com offers these comments by real-life OTAs:
In September 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated job growth for OTAs at 36% between 2020 and 2030. That’s four times the expected average growth rate for all occupations.
For the past few years, OTAs have made the “best health care support jobs” list in U.S. News and World Report. Starting salaries for newly graduated OTAs in the Midwest average from $44-47,000 and scale up to $62,000+ in Florida, Texas, Virginia, and California.
In contrast, the median annual wage for nursing assistants was $30,850 in May 2020, according to the BLS.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in suburban Kansas City.
The occupational therapy assistant program at CUKC results in an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. In addition to the OTA coursework, you’ll practice OTA skills in our on-campus simulated living quarters lab. Before graduation, you’ll have four to five months of required fieldwork experience.
Features of the CUKC occupational therapy assistant program:
Learn more about becoming an OTA by connecting with an advisor to get this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.