Occupational therapy assistant associate's degree programs teach students how to work with patients of all ages in various settings, including nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation hospitals and community centers. Direct experience is gained through hands-on laboratory sessions and supervised internships. The goal of these programs is to prepare students to help clients in need of physical recuperation reach their highest level of functioning. Coursework covers topics like human development, psychology, sociology, rehabilitation methods and kinesiology.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or its General Education Development (GED) equivalent and demonstrate proficiency in reading, math, biology and English. Candidates with a familiarity of therapy service settings are preferred.
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Associate in Occupational Therapy Assisting
This interdisciplinary program features courses that are based in psychology, medicine and science. Some common classes are:
- Occupational therapy bioethics
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Developmental disabilities
- Disease pathology
- Issues in occupational therapy
- Speech pathology fundamentals
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the employment of occupational therapy assistants will grow at a rate of 43% between 2014 and 2024. These professionals earned a median yearly salary of $57,870 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Graduates can go on to earn advanced degrees in the field and/or take the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, which confers the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant designation necessary for licensure in most states. Any other licensure requirements vary by state.
After completing general science coursework and focused training in caregiving, prospective occupational therapy assistants earn the associate's degree that they'll need to become licensed and start working in the field.