Look at the statistics, and you’ll see that about 83% of occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) are women. Why not more men? It might be because men don’t know the benefits of being an OTA. It turns out that earning an OTA degree is a great career option for men. Bamlaku K. and Neil J. can attest to that.
Both earned their occupational therapy assistant degree and find this healthcare support career is an excellent fit for their talents, interests, and abilities.
The entire occupational therapy profession focuses on helping people who struggle the most in society – those with developmental, emotional, mental, sensory, and physical challenges. These clients want to achieve specific goals, and OTAs are there to help their clients succeed.
“As OTAs, we are trying to treat the whole person so they can be as independent as possible through their activities of daily living,” Neil says.
More than 82% of those who become OTAs chose the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. The “applied” part of the A.A.S. degree is an important distinction because the occupational therapy assistant school curriculum focuses on direct client care knowledge and skills.
“I like that it’s a two-year program,” Bamlaku says, “so you could finish fairly quickly and then get straight into work.”
To orient students to the world of occupational therapy, expect classes on occupational therapy principles and ways to analyze a client’s abilities and performance.
Also included in this first year are courses introducing options and choices for therapeutic interventions.
Also included in this first year are courses introducing options and choices for therapeutic interventions. Interventions are defined as processes and skilled actions taken by occupational therapy practitioners in collaboration with the client. The intervention process includes the plan, implementation, and review,
The final year of occupational therapy assistant school concentrates on learning and practicing OTA skills and knowledge. Typically, there’s a specialty component, such as mental health strategies, plus a healthcare management class from an occupational therapy perspective.
In Level I fieldwork, students learn from observing OTAs in work settings. In their final semester, students move to Level II fieldwork. Here, students help clients and receive constructive guidance from trained fieldwork evaluators. The fieldwork components usually take four-to-five months.
An occupational therapy seminar prepares students for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam, and state licensure.
“The OTA program fits my interests,” Bamlaku says. “I get to work one-on-one with people from a range of disabilities. This profession allows me to use therapeutic activities and be creative. There are other interventions I can use to make sure people can become as independent as possible in their everyday activities.”
Occupational therapy assistant school can also serve as a launch point for later career moves, such as additional certifications. If an OTA decides to become an occupational therapist (OT), OTA-to-OT bridge programs make this possible.
Another aspect of earning the OTA degree is the range of work settings available.
“An OTA can work in an array of different places…a hospital, a school, a community-based setting. OTAs also work in the mental health field,” Neil says. “There is an endless amount of possibilities of where we can work. That always was reassuring to me.
Job growth for OTAs is projected to increase by more than 30% from 2021 to 2031. That’s because OTAs are finding their talents and skills are in great need by
New certified OTAs in the Midwestern U.S. will find starting salaries in the $45-$48,000 range.
National salary estimates from Salary.com also reflect OTA demand. For example, OTAs with a few years of experience can earn between $53,955 and $65,801 per year.
In the final analysis, the OTA profession could benefit from more men applicants. Many clients don’t care if their OTA is male or female. However, there are times when a client wants assistance of the same gender because of the personal nature of the difficulty. Uneasiness or discomfort can be a barrier to making adequate progress toward client goals.
Need more information? See this ‘8 reasons’ OTA blog.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. The program is accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Association (ACOTE).
In addition to class and lab sessions that introduce knowledge and client skills, our OTA degree helps ensure career confidence through guest speakers and supervised multiple-month fieldwork experiences before graduation. (More about OTA fieldwork here.)
CUKC will prepare you for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Certification Examination to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
“I would recommend the OTA program at CUKC because the classroom sizes aren’t too large,” Bam says. “You have time to speak to your teachers one-on-one; they’re very good at hands-on learning and teaching.”
Request information to learn about our two-year OTA degree and learn about the profession and opportunities with this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.