Online Associate Degrees in Occupational Therapy Assisting

Learn the job outlook and licensure requirements for occupational therapy assistants. Find out about degree programs in the field, including course and internship requirements. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Are There Any Prerequisites for an Online Associate's Degree in Occupational Therapy?

Due to the hands-on nature of the training required to become an occupational therapy assistant, degrees aren't offered online. A number of schools offer campus-based programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Associate's degree programs typically only require a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) diploma for admission. Some programs may require you to complete prerequisite courses in biology and psychology before being admitted into their occupational therapy assisting programs.

Online Availability Due to hands-on nature of the work, online degrees aren't offered in occupational therapy
Common Courses Assistive technology, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, physical disabilities, patient assessment
Licensure Requirements vary by state, but completion of an ACOTE-accredited associate's degree program is required before you take the national certification exam with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
Job Outlook (2016-2026)28% 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

What Courses Will I Take?

An associate's degree program in occupational therapy assisting addresses specialized topics that pertain to occupational therapy assisting, such as assistive technology, medical terminology, professional standards and ethics, therapeutic practices and pathophysiology. Along with your coursework, you'll complete an internship working directly with patients in a healthcare facility. Some of the courses you can expect to take include the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Psychology
  • Kinesiology
  • Physical disabilities
  • Patient assessment

Will I Need a License to Work?

Requirements for working as an occupational therapy assistant vary by state. However, the completion of an ACOTE-accredited associate's degree program is required to take the exam for national certification offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

This certification fulfills regulation requirements for working in most states. However, some states require passing state-specific licensing exams. A few states may also require occupational therapy assistants who work in intervention programs or with children to complete education courses or additional certification.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Occupational therapy assistants work under licensed occupational therapists to help patients with mental or physical disabilities improve their abilities to perform daily tasks. Job growth for occupational therapy assistants was expected to grow quickly at a rate of 28% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Job growth is attributed in part to the increase in the elderly population during that time.

Also contributing to job growth, notes the Bureau, is a projected increase in educational services for the disabled and advancements in technology used to treat victims of trauma and other debilitating health problems. As of March 2018, the median salary for a certified occupational therapy assistant was $57,620, according to BLS.

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