An Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) is a professional who helps the patients recovering from injuries, the children with developmental challenges, and older folks who require help obtaining their independence and their skill to function through their daily routines. Besides a nice salary, this occupation is in high demand right now.
Based on the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 55,100 people worked as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) as of 2019. It is estimated that this number will be able to grow by as much as 32% through 2029. The United States will have over 17,000 new Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) jobs within the next several years. In the year of 2019, the average salary of this job was $61,510. Similar allied health occupations include physical therapy assistant, respiratory therapist and dental assistant. By the way, how long does it take to become an Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA)? Well, let us find out that answer by reading this entire article.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA)?
To become an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), you will need to obtain your associate degree from an accredited college or university. Usually, the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program will give you the knowledge and skills to care for the patients effectively and safely. While many associate degree programs for occupational therapy assistants (OTA) take a full two years to complete, there are also other colleges such as Brookline College that offer 96 weeks to complete your occupational therapy assistant (OTA). This is reached by having a hybrid program where you learn some information at your pace online, and just have to be on campus five Friday’s per semester.
How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)?
Here is step-by-step to the education, experience, and certifications you will need to become an occupational therapy assistant:
1. Enroll in an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program
The first step to be an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) is by enrolling in an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program from an accredited college or university. It is a career which is open to people from all walks of life, as long as you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort to earn your Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) associate degree.
In an example, to qualify for the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Brookline College, all you will need is a high school diploma or GED, plus a passing score on the TEAS A2 admission test. Also, most Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) programs need an interview of some type to ensure your goals and personality are a good match for a career in occupational therapy.
2. Earn Your Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate (OTA) Degree
Similar to any healthcare-related associate degree program, your Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) degree program will include some general-study courses in subjects like, psychology, English and communications. Those classes are going to help you polish your critical-thinking skills and become a more well-rounded professional. Of course, you will also spend lots of time studying anatomy and physiology to learn more about the human body and how its systems function and interact with one another.
When you move into your career studies for occupational therapy assistants (OTA), you are going to get advanced knowledge of how the human body moves and heals. You are going to learn to work with different patient groups, from pediatric to geriatric. Also, you are going to learn about healthcare-industry management and professional best practices, as well as taking courses designed to better your evidence-based decision-making and overall clinical reasoning.
Occupational therapy assistant (OTA) programs are unique in that they involve many hands-on fieldwork throughout your Occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree program. Lots of your Occupational therapy assistant (OTA) classes have a fieldwork component where you will be able to get the real-world experience with the real patients. The final courses in your Occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree program will involve more extensive clinical work with a bigger degree of independence, just like you are able to expect from your first job as an Occupational therapy assistant (OTA).
Wherever you select to obtain your occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree, you should consider colleges or universities which offer the students extra services like job-placement assistance upon completion of their occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree program. Sometimes the students with access to job-placement programs have interviews lined up before they have even graduated.
3. Become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)
Becoming a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) via the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy will be able to allow you to work about anywhere in the United States, because it is considered the gold-standard certification for OTAs. For your information, the NBCOT exam contains 200 questions over a maximum of four hours testing time. You have to be at the testing center for a little over five hours to account for necessary administrative steps before and after the NBCOT exam.
How Much Does it Cost to Earn an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Degree?
The rising cost of a college education has already made it difficult increasingly for many people to get their degree the traditional way. Lots of bigger colleges and universities charge more than $20,000 per semester only in tuition, which frequently does not even include the essentials like books, lab fees, and other course materials. Fortunately, the emergence of online education has already made getting a college degree more accessible for countless people in the country, since online colleges do not have the same operating costs and will be able to give savings along to the students.
In an example, the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Brookline College not only costs less per credit hour than other traditional four-year schools, but the cost you are quoted always includes the books and any other course materials you need. Aside from that, over 80% of Brookline students qualify for several sort of financial aid.