UPDATED MARCH 1, 2021
While some people struggle too long with a job that doesn’t fit, the better approach is to take action. Everyone wants to find a career direction that matches what they’re passionate about and leads quickly to better employment. One desirable option is earning an OTA degree and becoming an occupational therapy assistant – an OTA. OTAs are vital in the growing healthcare field…and most students earn their OTA degree in as little as two years.
Opportunity May be Knocking
Is it time to move on to something new and a better fit for you? The online job-coaching site The Muse offers this advice: “Don’t ignore what your gut is telling you. And if you get the sense that you might be better off somewhere else, heed that inner voice and go exploring.”
Here’s Why It May Be the OTA Degree
More than 81% of OTAs working today earn the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree. It’s that popular because it matches those with deep people-helping instincts to disadvantaged clients who need extra guidance or instruction to achieve their everyday life goals most don’t think about.
Think about an employee who wants to get back to work after a hand injury, a senior seeking to overcome cognitive thinking challenges or a disabled combat veteran who wants to live independently. The team of an occupational therapist (OT) and an OTA is the connection to get from “wanting it to happen” to “making it happen.”
How’s the team organized? Occupational therapists (OTs) develop treatment plans, direct occupational therapy assistants, analyze progress and plan improvements and modifications. OTAs carry out the plan and often use their creative talents to adjust the therapy as needed.
OTAs like to say they also benefit from the client-OTA relationship. Nearly every day, OTAs are there to experience clients making progress toward their goals. (Go here for more about the difference between OTAs and OTs.)
The A.A.S. in OTA Degree is Unique
The “applied” part of the OTA degree plan is the key to this fast-track degree. After completing various preliminary courses, OTA students spend most of their time in school directly learning the principles, techniques, strategies, and options required to be successful in the occupational therapy assistant workforce.
The final parts of the OTA degree are Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences with an OTA mentor. This unique, four-to-five month fieldwork time ensures mastery of people skills and technical knowledge. After that, OTA graduates are ready for the certifying exam to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant – a COTA.
OTA Degree: Personally and Professionally Satisfying
Starting salaries for new OTAs average about $45,000; experienced OTAs can make $53,000 to $59,000 or more, according to Salary.com. Those seeking an OTA career can expect a robust job market for their skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth for OTAs at 32% through 2029.
That’s impressive but perhaps not surprising. The number of people age 55+ with age-related conditions is growing. There’s a sharp increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with developmental disorders. Occupational therapy is proving valuable in post-surgery recovery, preventing falls and injuries, and helping people live independently longer in their homes.
The Two-year OTA Degree at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb just a 20-minute drive from the city’s center.
Our (two-year) A.A.S. degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant consists of 16 core courses and 4-5 months of supervised fieldwork education. The guided fieldwork involves you in client scenarios that will allow you to fine-tune OTA skills. View our coursework plan here.
Other features of the CUKC program:
To connect with an advisor about our OTA degree, go here. To learn more about the OTA profession, get this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.