Associate Degree Programs in Occupational Therapy

An associate's degree program in occupational therapy can train you for a career helping individuals overcome physical, social or developmental challenges. Degree programs are primarily campus-based; read on to find out more about required education and training, as well as potential career options.

What Will I Learn in an Occupational Therapy Associate's Degree Program?

Course topics in an associate's degree program include anatomy, physiology, speech fundamentals, human movement, abnormal psychology and foundations of occupational therapy. You'll learn how to create individualized developmental plans for children, adults and the elderly. You'll also study how to implement physical and psychosocial rehabilitation techniques under the guidance of an occupational therapist.

Most associate's degree programs in occupational therapy will prepare you for national certification. You must attend a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) in order to take ACOTE's national certifying exam. You can also receive national certification by taking an exam administered by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Some states mandate an additional licensure exam; check with your state's regulatory board for more details.

CourseworkHuman movement, psychology, anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation techniques
Clinical TrainingFieldwork rotations at a variety of healthcare facilities
Admission RequirementsMay include proof of immunizations, CPR certification, and a background check
Education RequirementsAssociate's degree prepares students to work as occupational therapy assistants; master's degree is needed to become an occupational therapist
Job Outlook (2018-2028)31% growth (for occupational therapy assistants and aides)*
Median Salary (2018)$57,620 (for occupational therapy assistants and aides)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Is There a Clinical Component?

You'll complete a clinical practicum under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. You may be assigned to a hospital, public school, nursing home or home health agency. Depending on the program, your fieldwork rotations could be completed at an out-of-town facility.

Can I Expect Any Special Requirements?

Hepatitis, rubella, tetanus and tuberculosis immunizations may be required prior to admission. Some programs will ask you to pay a clinical fee in addition to your tuition. For the clinical component, CPR certification may be required. If you've been convicted of a felony, you might be ineligible to participate in a clinical practicum.

Will I Become an Occupational Therapist if I Earn an Associate's Degree?

Occupational therapists typically need at least a master's degree. An associate's degree could lead to work as an occupational therapy assistant. In this position, you'll work under the supervision of an occupational therapist in a variety of environments, providing rehabilitative services to people with physical, mental, emotional and developmental impairments. You might help patients learn how to operate a wheelchair, cook a meal or use a computer.