Occupational Therapy Assistant: Career Education Summary

Occupational therapy assistants require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

You may begin a career as an occupational therapy assistant with an associate's degree in an accredited occupational therapy program and completion of any state licensing requirements. Occupational therapy assistants typically work in hospitals, occupational therapists' offices and nursing homes.

Essential Information

Occupational therapy assistants help mentally and physically impaired patients, as well as those with emotional and developmental disabilities, to do therapeutic activities or learn to function at a higher level. Required knowledge and skills are gained through an accredited associate's degree program; professional certification and state licensure requirements may also apply.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements National certification and state licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 40%*
Average Salary (2015) $58,340 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Summary

Working under the guidance and supervision of occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants help patients maintain their health and mobility. This generally includes providing rehabilitative services and educational instruction. Occupational therapy assistants often develop a rapport with patients in order to understand when to push them and when to hold back. Additionally, they're usually responsible for reporting back to the occupational therapist regarding a patient's progress.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupational therapy assistants could see a 40% increase in jobs between 2014 and 2024 ( An expected increase in the number of disabled older adults was a major factor in employment growth. The BLS also stated that the average salary for occupational therapy assistants was $58,340 as of May 2015.

Education Requirements

An individual can become an occupational therapy assistant by completing an associate's degree program at an accredited vocational school or community college. Through a curriculum of lectures, labs and clinical experiences, students learn about treatment options for patients with mental disorders, physical ailments and chronic illnesses.

An occupational therapy assistant is not the same as an occupational therapy aide. An occupational therapy assistant receives his or her education through an accredited program and is eligible for certification, while an occupational therapy aide learns on the job and is not eligible for certification.

Licensure and Certification

Although they differ in their requirements, most states require occupational therapy assistants to be licensed, certified or registered, reports the BLS. Occupational therapy assistants working with early intervention programs or schools may have additional educational requirements. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy provides an exam for national certification. Passing this exam results in the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) credential.

Occupational therapy assistants help individuals with disabilities or injuries in acquiring or regaining the skills needed for daily life. They need an associate's degree, and most states require licensing; professional certification can be earned as well. With a projected job growth rate of 40% through 2024, this occupation offers strong career opportunities in a number of settings.

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy
    • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MS in Nursing
    • BS in Health Science
    • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN
    • BS in Health and Wellness

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • MBA: Health Systems Management
    • MS in Health Care Administration
    • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
    • BS in Health Care Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
    • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Business Administration - Health Care Administration
    • B.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
    • B.S. Healthcare Administration
    • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your age?

    • Medical Assistant
    • Medical Assisting
    • Medical Laboratory Technology
    • Pharmacy Technician
    • Sterile Processing Technician

    Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?