Making a move to a new career takes courage, commitment, and a can-do attitude. Ellen S. has those qualities. In concluding her people-focused abilities could be maximized by attending occupational therapy assistant school, Ellen enrolled and soon will be become an OTA – an occupational therapy assistant.
“I’ve been interested in occupational therapy for a long time,” Ellen says. “I learned about it when I was in junior high. I just never went to school until now.”
Although the path to an OTA career came later than anticipated, Ellen’s work life has clearly focused on helping others with developmental, emotional, mental, and sensory conditions. While occupational therapists (OTs) design and plan therapies, their OTA partners carry out personalized therapy activities. OTAs are the on-site specialists working day-to-day with their clients.
“I worked for a couple of years at a day service primarily for young people with special needs,” Ellen recalls. She saw the gap in healthcare services that occupational therapy seeks to fill.
Research findings continue to show that occupational therapy interventions help clients with compliance in their medical regimen, delivering improved health outcomes that also reduce healthcare costs.
A deep-seated concern for others and the willingness to be a teacher and encourager is an excellent match for those who are discovering the value of occupational therapy assistant school. She did the career research and knew going for the OTA degree was the right career step.
“I’ve been working with people with special needs all of my life,” Ellen says.” I just needed to take it to another level.”
For those like Ellen who want to spend most of their day working with clients, the most sought-after OTA degree is the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy, delivered in a two-year program that meets the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) standards.
What an OTA degree program looks like will vary according to factors like program design, instructor experience, and fieldwork options in the school’s vicinity.
A typical A.A.S. degree in OTA is 75 credit hours. The first part is about 24 hours of pre-professional coursework – classes covering English composition, psychology, anatomy, physiology, and healthcare terminology. (You can learn more about OTA classes in this blog.)
The remainder of the OTA degree focuses on professional OTA courses, doing hands-on activities in the OTA lab, participating in group learning exercises, and ends with multiple weeks of instructor-led fieldwork experiences. That’s where the classwork and knowledge come together.
While doing her fieldwork, Ellen remembers working with a man recovering from a stroke. Ellen recognized his love for golf, and with the help of others, created a therapy exercise that uses the balance and physical motions needed for putting a golf ball.
“He struggles with his balance, but he loves being able to stand and putt,” she says. “It was a lot of fun and also scientific,” Ellen says.
When Ellen completes her occupational therapy assistant school education and passes the national OTA exam, she’ll be ready to join the OTA workforce. Thanks to increased recognition of the benefits provided by occupational therapy practitioners, OTAs are finding work across the employer spectrum:
Ellen also will be entering one of the most in-demand healthcare roles available today. The career availability for graduates from occupational therapy assistant schools will improve by more than 30% from 2020 to 2030, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS also ranks OTAs among the top-20 fastest-growing occupations. Compensation for OTAs is competitive. According to wage data collected by Salary.com, the national OTA salary ranges between $54,054 and $65,916, according to wage data compiled by Salary.com.
Becoming an OTA is a great career choice. Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas, provides an excellent OTA education.
CUKC offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S. degree) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. Our two-year program delivers classes in sequential 8-week modules year-round. The OTA degree program includes four to five months of required fieldwork experience, which ensures mastery of essential OTA skills and knowledge.
Other features of this unique associate degree in healthcare:
Request information today to learn about becoming an OTA, plus download a free eBook about opportunities in the OTA profession: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.