There are at least two great things about earning the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree:
(1) It’s an active, always challenging career, and
(2) it offers a sense of “doing something with big impact” that many jobs just can’t match. Actually, when you learn all you can about this unique healthcare career, there are more than two great things about entering the OTA workforce.
1. People-first Occupation
Occupational therapy assistants – referred to as OTAs – directly support clients who want to achieve their daily living goals, despite facing personal challenges. Those challenges may be developmental, emotional, physical, sensory based, or cognitive.
Those in an occupational therapy assistant degree program will be carrying out individualized therapy plans in a variety of work settings. (See Fact #3 below.) OTAs are good at building trust, intuitive, creative, and determined to make a difference. OTAs are as much encouragers and coaches as they are therapy instructors.
Those needing instruction and assistance from an OTA can range from a grade-schooler with a learning disorder to a senior adult dealing with dementia.
2. Excellent Job Outlook
In a 2021 review by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs outlook for occupational therapy positions is excellent and particularly true for OTAs. OTA jobs are expected to grow more than 30% between 2020 and 2030. That’s triple the average growth rate for all job categories.
3. Multiple Work Settings
One of the advantages of earning the occupational therapy assistant degree is the many work settings available. You’ll find OTAs working with clients in many different areas.
|Where OTAs Work|
|* Schools||* Offices of other healthcare specialists|
|* Outpatient clinics||* Rehabilitation centers|
|* Assisted living/Senior centers||* Retirement communities|
|* Hospitals||* Home healthcare|
4. Respected Work Status
For the past five years, occupational therapy assistants have ranked among the top healthcare support jobs in the U.S. News & World Report annual report. In 2022, OTAs surged to #2 in this category and landed at #30 on the overall list of “100 Best Jobs.”
Why do so many decide to complete an occupational therapy assistant degree? It’s a combination of salary, satisfactory working environment, job flexibility/mobility, and a good work-life balance.
5. It’s the Ultimate Helping Occupation
“If you’re like me – you find pleasure in helping improve people’s lives from every walk of life – this is something to look into,” says Taylor G., on how he decided to earn his occupational therapy assistant degree. “The first person I job shadowed was an OTA, and I really liked it. I thought, ‘Why look elsewhere when this is something I want to do?’”
OTAs help people of all ages and backgrounds, such as
6. Two Years to the OTA Degree
These fantastic facts aside, how you earn the occupational therapy assistant degree may be the most exciting aspect of this career. More than 80% of today’s OTAs choose to earn a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. This choice keeps them focused on direct client care skills and knowledge while keeping time in college at a minimum.
The “applied” part of the A.A.S. degree means students have a focused course curriculum designed to deliver the education necessary to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
Starting salaries for new OTA in the Midwest average about $45-$47,000. The data site Salary.com shows experienced OTAs can make $53,00 to $59,000 or more.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas, a part of the Kansas City metro. CUKC offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. Most students earn their degrees in two years. (Get a fast connection to an advisor here.)
Knowledge and client skills are achieved via traditional classes, experiential learning sessions, and guest speakers. The OTA program includes time doing the Level I and Level II fieldwork and takes advantage of the CUKC network of affiliated work sites. (Learn more about the OTA fieldwork here.)
Other features of the OTA degree program at CUKC:
Ready to learn more about the CUKC occupational therapy assistant degree and its career possibilities? Download this free career eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.