Not many jobs boast hundreds of ways to help people live their best possible life. Still, as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), you’ll have hundreds of assistive devices at the ready. Plus, you’ll have unique knowledge about helping people who are facing situations they can’t always overcome by themselves. Here’s a comprehensive look at why you’ll love being an OTA – a vital member of the occupational therapy profession.
As a certified occupational therapy assistant, your goal is to help individuals live as independently as they can.
Think about it: You’re on the front line of healthcare, teaming up with people who are encountering developmental, physical, emotional, sensory, and cognitive disorders. This role brings you face-to-face with people of all ages, from all cultural backgrounds.
Here a few of the many scenarios in which OTAs can make a difference:
Situation: A senior adult wants to continue living independently in a lifelong home.
Solution: As a certified occupational therapy assistant, you might conduct a home assessment, see how well he or she can navigate rooms, and then recommend home modifications like eliminating non-secured rugs, or installing stair railings and grab bars.
Situation: A child who has fallen behind developmentally and is frustrated because they struggle to accomplish daily living activities.|
Solution: An OTA can provide guidance and instruction, ranging from getting dressed to staying organized. A certified occupational therapy assistant can be there to observes, guide, and make suggestions.
Situation: Someone recovering from shoulder surgery has difficulty with daily living routines.
Solution: Together with the supervising occupational therapist, an OTA can introduce their client to ways of putting on a shirt one-handed, or use an adaptive device, such as a reach extender.
The Wide World of OTA Assistive Devices and Strategies
The central goal of an occupational therapy assistant is to help their clients live as they would like to live. Imagine leading others to that goal by using best practices, devices, and innovative technologies.
A sampling of the variety:
Grading the OTA Profession
The client-focused work OTAs do command a very competitive salary. The OTA salary range – even for newly certified OTAs – rivals some jobs that require a four-year degree.
According to the data site salary.com, newly graduated COTA earns between $42-47,000, depending on geographic location. The career site owlguru.com gives this healthcare support occupation its A rating.
Finally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the role of certified occupational therapy assistants will grow 31% from 2018-28. This growth demonstrates the interest in employing OTAs by school systems, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and outpatient care facilities.
Got Two Years? Become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
You can turn your love for people and talent for introducing and teaching about assistive tools and strategies into an OTA career by earning an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) degree in occupational therapy assistant.
The A.A.S. is a two-year degree, so it’s heavy on doing and mastering OT principles, skills, and techniques. Of course, you’ll first complete 24 college credit hours in general classes such as communications, psychology, and health science terminology. These introductory classes are standard to just about any college degree.
OTA degree-interested students can also take many of these required courses online – including science-heavy courses like anatomy and physiology. (Not every OTA school offers this, so be sure to check. (Here’s one university’s offering.)
After the preliminary coursework, students in an accelerated A.A.S. degree program move on to acquiring job-specific skills and knowledge. Here are some examples:
Become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university offering the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree.
Within the occupational therapy assistant program at CUKC, classes and lab time for the OTA degree combine with extensive fieldwork experience. OTA students find this on-the-job time truly prepares them for the OTA workplace by including various workplace settings, ranging from schools to rehab centers to senior care facilities.
Our degree program, accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), offers entry into the program three times per year: summer, fall, and spring.
There’s much to know about life as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, and you can get more details story by downloading this free ebook today: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.