UPDATED OCT. 15, 2021
Get a jump on your career goals by learning how to become an OTA – an occupational therapy assistant. Here are the answers you’ll want to five often-asked questions about what an OTA does, why it’s a profession on the rise, and how you can find the right OTA degree program.
Q. What is occupational therapy, and why do people want to know how to become an OTA?
A. The term “occupational therapy” describes therapy actions that help people do the things they want to do but are unable to do currently because of injury, disability, illness, or a developmental situation. Simply put, occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live their best possible life.
When you become an OTA, you have a vital role in making this happen. OTAs carry out the activities of a therapy plan. OTAs learn how to work with people of all ages, figuring out exercises, techniques, approaches, and methods that help people overcome developmental, emotional, cognitive, physical, and sensory-processing challenges.
OTAs often get to see their clients’ progress, which gives them a lot of personal satisfaction in their career choice.
Q. What does an OTA do?
A. An OTA’s responsibilities are amazingly varied. Learning how to become an OTA gives you the ability to
Q. What is OTA education like?
A. Some people are surprised that they can learn how to become an OTA in only two years. More than half of all OTAs choose to earn the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
For this degree, occupational therapy assistant schools require completion of at least 24 hours of general education coursework before admission to the primary OTA coursework. This preliminary coursework includes English, social sciences, communications, and health sciences terminology.
After that, the A.A.S. degree involves professional OTA courses. These courses cover subjects such as analysis of performance, rehabilitation and disability issues, and the methods, techniques, and adaptive technologies OTAs use in interacting with their clients.
The last part of mastering how to become an OTA is applying those skills in real-life situations through extensive Level I and Level II OTA Fieldwork. Once that’s complete, you’ll be ready to become an OTA and enter the in-demand OTA workforce.
Q. I’m not sure I’m ready for college. Are OTA classes hard?
A. OTA students aren’t expected to know everything when they start, although any classes in anatomy, physiology, and psychology can prove helpful.
Think of it this way: If you have a desire to learn and a willingness to work at it, discover how to become an OTA. The accelerated, two-year OTA programs pair in-class knowledge with hands-on learning in lab sessions. Plus, OTA degree programs from universities with a strong student-first reputation will provide plenty of support services to ensure your success.
Curious about what OTA classes are like? Here’s a blog telling you what to expect and how to be successful!
Q. I’ve never heard of becoming an OTA. How do I know it’s a great career?
A. Current healthcare trends and job statistics show the demand for OTAs is a real thing. For 2021, US News & World Report named OTA one of the nation’s top 15 “best health care support jobs.” This “Best Jobs” report says OTAs find their work personally satisfying and receive competitive pay.
The average OTA with experience earns about $58,000 annually, according to data from Salary.com. The success of integrating occupational therapy into healthcare solutions is pushing the demand for OTAs to more than 36% through 2030 – three times as high as the average for all occupations.
Q. I’m a guy. Is the occupational therapy assistant career for me?
A. As a guy, you sometimes think the only healthcare career option is a physician-type role. Not true. Men are very good at the tasks and objectives associated with being an occupational therapy assistant.
Men who have become an OTA say being an OTA is often like a coach or trainer, demonstrating new ways to achieve someone’s goals. Sometimes, a male client will relate better to a male OTA because of the personal nature of the difficulty.
Right now, men represent less than 15% of those graduating from occupational therapy assistant school. It’s a wide-open career opportunity!
Ready to start your journey to become an occupational therapy assistant? Consider the accelerated A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC). Cleveland University-Kansas City is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas, a major city in the Kansas City metro area.
Our program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). In the CUKC program, OTA courses are delivered in sequential 8-week courses year-round, allowing students to complete the program in two years. Students can start the program in the spring, summer, or fall.
Get the answers to your OTA questions by downloading our free OTA ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.