Ask any career seeker what their dream job would look like, and the answers will include competitive salary, creativity to do their job according to their expertise, be part of a team effort, and feel good about what you do at day’s end. All those dream job attributes are why you’ll want an occupational therapy assistant career.
3 Insights from OTA Professionals
Here’s what three occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) say they love about their career choice.
From Megan N:
“OT – occupational therapy – it’s a broader range of clients. We have people with strokes, Down syndrome, autism. You can work in so many different settings.”
From Bamlaku K:
“I liked the fact that it’s a two-year program you could finish quickly and then get straight into work. Then, if you want to get a higher degree after that, you can.”
From Taylor G:
“Yeah, the drive to help people is what drew me to this profession. The amount of gratitude people express to OTs and OTAs is pretty satisfying.”
6 Insights About an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career
1. It’s an active, patient-focused profession.
What OTAs do every day is remarkably varied. Depending on where an OTA works (see #6, below), the range of client-focused therapy they carry out might include
2. It’s a high-demand, expanding profession.
Healthcare services continue to expand and widen. The move to collaborative care increasingly involves professionals of all specialties, contributing to better, more efficient healthcare.
Occupational therapy professionals like those choosing an occupational therapy assistant career are doing their part to help clients facing conditions in six major areas:
In 2021, the occupational therapy assistant career ranks as the nation’s 4th fastest-growing profession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
3. It’s a people-focused profession.
Thanks to their whole-person training and skills, OTAs become someone their clients can trust to help them live their life to their fullest. Think of an OTA as a compassionate counselor or perhaps teacher/coach.
Sometimes, OTAs focus on helping clients with basic life skills – getting dressed for the day or preparing a meal by themselves.
Sometimes, OTAs help clients with specific conditions by introducing behavioral interventions or adaptive technology.
Sometimes, OTAs educate family members about a client’s condition, allowing them to be a full partner in the client’s goals.
4. It’s a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree.
After completing introductory classes like English, social sciences, communications, and health sciences terminology, students advance into professional OTA courses. Coursework includes analysis of performance, rehabilitation, disability topics, and the methods, techniques, and adaptive technologies OTAs use when entering the occupational therapy assistant career.
Much of an OTA’s education is hands-on, such as practicing wheelchair-to-car transfers, exploring alternative ways to conduct therapy, and having question-and-answer sessions from OTAs working in the profession.
The OTA fieldwork experience, guided by trained evaluators, ensures OTA students are fully ready for their occupational therapy assistant career.
5. It’s a career delivering a competitive salary.
Occupational therapy practices contribute to lower hospital readmissions, help children succeed in school, and improve senior adults’ abilities. Because of that, the BLS projects a 35% job growth between 2019 and 2029.
Salaries for new OTAs average about $45-$47,000 per year nationally. A certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) with experience can have an average salary range from $53,859 to $59,784, according to the data site Salary.com.
6. It allows you to focus on the client setting you prefer.
OTAs find employment in many different settings, including offices of occupational therapists (OTs), schools, hospitals, in clients’ homes, and assistive or long-term care facilities.
CUKC. Begin Your Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Here
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a private, nonprofit, healthcare-focused university that offers an A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree with full approval by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Our goal is to prepare you to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
Learn more today by requesting information and download your free eBook: Your Complete Guide to the Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.