Students of occupational therapy programs are typically trained to work as assistants to occupational therapists with bachelor's or master's degrees. Students work as part of rehabilitative teams to create, implement, and evaluate treatment plans. Additionally, these programs may prepare students for state-mandated licensure exams.
Prerequisites for admittance to these programs may include a high school diploma or equivalent, a 2.5 GPA or higher, and submission of ACT/SAT scores.
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Associate's in Occupational Science
Internship/field work with an occupational therapist may be needed in order to graduate from one of these programs, and students should be in good physical shape to lift patients. Curricula for occupational science associate's degree programs combine courses in social and behavioral sciences, general education, and occupational science. Common courses include the following:
- Human development
- Pediatric occupational therapy
- Adult occupational therapy
- Group occupational therapy
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Due to the aging U.S. population, employer demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase 43% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs will be available in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, residential care facilities, nursing homes, hospices and adult day care centers. Occupational therapy assistants earn a median annual salary of $57,870 in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Students who earn an associate's degree in the field of occupational science may transfer credits to a bachelor's or master's degree program in occupational science or related field. Most states require aspiring occupational therapists to pass a certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Graduates of occupational science associate's degree programs receive significant on-the-job training.
Associate's degree programs in occupational science can help students gain hands-on experience and instruction in topics like kinesiology, anatomy, human development, and more. Graduates of these programs can seek employment as occupational therapy assistants or pursue more advanced degrees in the field in order to become an occupational therapist. Work for occupational therapy aides is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years.