Say “healthcare careers,” and many people will automatically think of doctors or nurses. However, today’s occupations in healthcare are more numerous and highly specialized. So, when you’re interested in helping others, another career option offering a wide and powerful people impact is the occupational therapy assistant career.
When people like you find out what OTAs do, how they make a difference, and it’s a two-year degree, the appeal is pretty obvious.
For them, the initials OTA translates into “Oh, That’s Amazing!” Over the next decade, the OTA profession is expected to grow 35%, placing it in the top-15 of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S.
In the world of occupational therapy, teamwork is crucial. An OTA works closely with an occupational therapist (OT). Together, they find or create ways to assist individuals who struggle to accomplish daily living activities due to illness, disability, or injury.
What does accomplishing daily living activities mean? Often, these are the routine skills and tasks many take for granted. For example, how would someone with an immobilized shoulder get dressed in the morning? What’s the safest, least physically demanding way to navigate steps when recovering from major foot surgery?
The therapy solutions OTAs carry out seek to establish the level of self-sufficiency, and independence clients want, helping them live life to the fullest. Throughout an occupational therapy assistant career, OTAs will do this in various ways – from coaching new behaviors to demonstrating how to use assistive tools and technologies.
There are six practice areas within the occupational therapy assistant career, demonstrating how universally useful OTA knowledge and skills truly are. The six areas of impact defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA):
As an occupational therapy assistant, imagine
Those who choose an occupational therapy assistant career can expect a robust job market. This job growth is due primarily to the number of aging baby boomers, recognizing developmental disorders at an early age, and that occupational therapies contribute to better healthcare outcomes.
In addition to the U.S. Department of Labor’s projection of a 35+% growth rate through 2030, becoming an OTA ranks high in the U.S. News & World Report annual job rankings. In 2021, OTAs were again in the top-15 of healthcare support positions.
According to Salary.com, the median annual salary of an experienced OTA is more than $58,000. Newly certified OTAs typically earn salaries in the $45-$48,000 range.
Megan’s Choice: The 2-Year OTA Career
If you are looking for a career that blends equal parts compassion, commitment, and variety – in a two-year degree program – this may be the field for you.
Megan N., an OTA since 2020, first earned a speech pathology degree. While that is clearly a people-focused profession that fits her helping talents, she began searching for something that had more variety.
“Occupational therapy has a broader range of clients,” Megan says. “People with strokes, Down syndrome, autism. And, you can work in so many different settings. That’s why I decided to switch to occupational therapy assistant.”
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas, offers the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree.
The CUKC Occupational Therapy Assistant program is designed with insight from practicing occupational therapy professionals and employer organizations. The result is a comprehensive, applied-degree program that students complete in as little as two years.
Our program’s goal is to prepare you to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). The CUKC program includes 16 core OTA courses and the required Level I and Level II fieldwork.
Signature elements of our A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant program:
Request more information from an admissions advisor, so you’ll receive our free CUKC eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.