UPDATED JANUARY 8, 2020
If you are considering a career in healthcare and want to know about Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) classes, what do you need to ask? Sometimes academia can seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that most things are easier to handle one piece at a time. And the same is true for OTA classes. Becoming an OTA requires learning in three stages to build your path to success.
How the Two-year OTA Degree Works
Generally, people must master and build on their current skills before they can move up. OTA classes are no different. Your ability to keep building OTA skills, earn your OTA degree, and enter the fast-expanding OTA career field is done in stages to make it easier. (Note: Occupational Therapy Assistant jobs are in the top-25 list of best healthcare support jobs in the nation as ranked by the US News & World Report.)
This blog will help you know more about what an occupational therapy assistant does.
Stage 1: OTA Degree Prerequisites
Prerequisites are foundational college courses that you must take before starting your OTA program classes. These courses are designed to help in your development as a person and will ultimately make you a better OTA.
Your first classes as an OTA student include subjects like algebra, composition, and psychology, along with some anatomy and physiology and health science terminology. These help you to get on a level playing field with the other students who will be in your OTA classes. Think of them as the basics.
Stage 2: OTA Degree Coursework
After you’ve completed your prerequisites, you move on to Occupational Therapy Assistant coursework. There, you’ll begin to supplement your foundational knowledge with the core learning that will allow you to help others live a more productive life.
As you may know from your reading about what occupational therapy is about, clients may be facing developmental, physical, cognitive, emotional, or sensory processing challenges. OTAs work one-on-one with their clients, helping them perform the daily living activities they want to achieve. These could range include self-care, accommodating the use of a wheelchair, or adaptations needed to return to work.
The OTA coursework, which is essentially the second year of your two-year degree, includes a variety of classes.
Stage 3: OTA Fieldwork
Your final stage is fieldwork, which begins before you’ve even completed your degree. Your two- to three months’ work in the field — guided by practicing OTAs — is where traditional book learning and hands-on training intersect. Fieldwork is the culmination of everything you’ve learned during your Occupational Therapy Assistant classes, and it will prepare you for success once you graduate.
Typically, OTA students doing fieldwork are working with a public agency or organization, and assist assisting clients while under the guidance of an OTA professional. Students earn 14 of the 51 OTA credit hours during the four to five months of fieldwork education
Your performance in Leve I and II fieldwork will put your knowledge and skills on display, as you help people with daily tasks that will make them more independent. By the time you reach this final stage of your training, you will be confident in your abilities and ready to launch a career that offers personal and professional satisfaction.
The Two-Year OTA Degree at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a private, healthcare-focused, nonprofit university in Overland Park, Kansas, a part of the Kansas City metro. Students earn an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
Each 8-week class builds on the previous class learning. Most students complete this accelerated OTA degree in just six semesters (two years).
Points of distinction for the OTA degree at CUKC:
To learn more about the OTA degree and what it offers you, get our free ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree.