In the first year of a 2-year OT assistant's program, students study the fundamentals of health care and general education subjects. The second year typically includes occupational therapy courses and supervised, on-the-job training. Clinical experiences are a part of this degree. Students also develop the critical thinking and interpersonal skills needed in the profession. Following degree completion, graduates typically must obtain licensure or become registered before seeking employment. This degree requires a high school diploma or GED to be accepted.
Associate of Occupational Therapy Assistant Technology
Through coursework, lab skills and clinical rotations, students learn the technologies and methodologies OTs use to help patients. They also take classes focusing on topics related to the OT profession. Once coursework is completed, students work in supervised health settings to fulfill fieldwork requirements. The curriculum generally includes variations of the following courses:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Physical rehabilitation theory and methods
- Occupational therapy management
- Professional issues in occupational therapy
- Developmental disabilities
- Psychosocial dysfunction
Popular Career Options
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that, because aides and assistants are being used more and more by occupational therapists, employment opportunities should continue to be good for occupational therapy assistants. Some career options for graduates of associate's programs in occupational therapy assisting include:
- Occupational therapy assistants
- Occupational therapy aides
- Certified and/or licensed occupational therapy assistant
Career and Salary Outlook Information
The mean annual salary for occupational therapy assistants was $60,410 in 2018, as reported by the BLS. Occupational therapy aides at that time earned a mean annual salary of $32,580. The BLS further notes a projected 33% employment increase for occupational therapy assistants and a 31% increase for occupational aides from 2018 to 2028. The country's increasing aging population is expected to rely on a number of occupational therapy services, fueling the need for assistants and aides in this field.
Continuing Education Information
Occupational therapy assistants must be registered, licensed or certified to work in most states. Each state may differ in their eligibility requirements, since some states use the national certification exam for licensing purposes and others have their own requirements. OT assistants who wish to work in schools may have additional education requirements.
Although voluntary, certification is often preferred by employers. OT assistants who have completed an approved training program may earn the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) credential by passing the National Board for Certification in Occupation Therapy (NBCOT) written examination. Continuing education may also be required to maintain licensure or certification.
With an associate of occupational therapy assistant technology students will receive classroom instruction and about clinical experiences under the direct supervision of an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy assistants must be certified, licensed or registered in order to work in many states.