There’s more information about careers available today than ever. All that information can be overwhelming, perhaps leaving you as unsure about your career path as when you started the process. One way to get past this occupational brain freeze is to get first-hand information from someone who’s taken the path you’re considering. That’s where Neil’s story about earning an OTA degree and joining the occupational therapy assistant profession can provide much insight.
When your instinct is to investigate “helping people” professions, career resources show that a fully accredited occupational therapy assistant program leads to a healthcare role in demand.
Statistics tell us that:
That growth is because OTAs help people live their best lives despite personal challenges like disabilities, developmental delays, mental/emotional situations, and cognitive or physical impairments.
Occupational therapy assistants are highly skilled in therapeutic processes and methods. OTAs work in collaboration with occupational therapists (OTs). OTs design the activities, and OTAs carry out the plan – making adjustments to therapy procedures if indicated.
OTAs say the most satisfying part of their job is working one-on-one with their clients and seeing them progress toward their life goals.
One example might be someone who’s suffered a shoulder injury. There’s physical rehabilitation, of course, but what about getting dressed with one arm in the morning? OTAs would assess the person’s capabilities and teach how to adapt to such situations, increasing independence as much as possible.
Neil J., who graduated from the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Cleveland University-Kansas City in 2022, switched careers to become an OTA.
“I was in a job and not happy,” he says. “I already knew about the occupational therapy profession, so this was my career restart.”
“I really like helping people, and I like being creative. The OTA program fit my interests because I got to work one-on-one with people with a range of disabilities. The OTA profession allows me to be creative and use therapeutic activities and interventions to ensure people can become as independent as possible in their everyday activities.”
In the process of completing his two-year OTA degree, Neil says he learned how OTAs could work in an array of different places.
“I can work in a hospital, a school, a community-based setting, and in the mental health field. You can also work in a patient’s home,” he says. “So that was reassuring to me…I want to change where I want to work; I have that option.”
When changing careers, many people describe that “aha moment” when they know they made the right career decision. Neil had that experience after deciding on an OTA degree.
“My aha moment happened the first day of class,” he says. “Everyone was in the same place as me. They all were trying to kick-start their career. And I just felt welcomed.”
Neil describes how the “right fit” feeling revealed itself when learning about hand therapy as part of his fieldwork experience. (Learn more about OTA fieldwork here.)
“My first, second level rotation was with a certified hand therapist. I liked assisting with orthotics and orthosis (corrections) for the hand,” he said. “I was like,’ I really want to do this…OTA is a good fit for me.’”
Occupational therapy assistant program directors emphasize that OTA students need personal qualities beyond that deep-down desire to help others. To know if an OTA degree is good for you, ask yourself:
If you said “yes” way more than “no,” a 2-year occupational therapy assistant degree deserves investigation. Learn more about OTA coursework here.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburban city within the Kansas City region. Since 1922, our mission has been to be a leader in health-related educational programs.
CUKC offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S. degree) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. Our program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
CUKC presents its coursework in sequential 8-week modules year-round (three academic terms). Our two-year program includes the four-to-five months of required fieldwork experience.
More program features:
Request information today to learn about our OTA degree program. You’ll also have access to our free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.