Schools for Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants
A certified occupational therapy assistant helps rehabilitate patients and transition them back into everyday life. Find out how to become one, what degree programs in this field cover and whether you need to be licensed and certified.
Aspiring occupational therapy assistants can find educational programs in the field at many different schools. This article looks at programs, coursework, schools and licensing options.
How Do I Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that occupational therapy assistants must graduate from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (www.bls.gov). In 2009, there were 135 programs accredited by the ACOTE. Occupational therapist assistant programs are typically in the form of 2-year associate degree programs, offered at community colleges and some 4-year colleges and universities.
What Are Associate Degree Programs Like?
Most programs last two years and lead to an Associate in Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant. You'll learn about anatomy and physiology, health care delivery and treatment of illnesses and disabilities. You may learn to help stroke patients regain mobility or help mentally impaired patients balance everyday tasks. Besides classroom time, you may be required to take part in an internship, in which you'll be placed in a supervised healthcare setting with patients and occupational therapists.
Whether it's physical or mental disabilities, anatomy or research-based concepts, your occupational therapy assistant program will expose you to variety of issues you may face in your career. Some schools may offer programs completely online, while others may offer only a portion of the curriculum online. Most schools will require that you complete lab work on campus. Some of the concepts you may learn include:
- Medical terminology
- Treatment techniques
- Physical and developmental disabilities
- Therapy management
- Workplace ethics
- Rehabilitation theory
Which Schools Offer Associate Degree Programs in Occupational Therapy Assistant?
Occupational therapy assistant associate degree programs are located at many colleges around the country. Check out the following examples:
- Green River College, in Washington state, has an Associate in Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program
- Tidewater Community College, in Virginia, offers an Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program
- Pennsylvania College of Technology has an Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program
What About Licensure and Certification?
According to the BLS, 40 U.S. states require some form of licensure, registration or certification for occupational therapy assistants, so it's key to learn about specifications in your area. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) offers the certification exam leading to the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) credential. Most associate's degree programs are designed specifically to prepare and qualify candidates for licensure and certification. If you want to work at a school or for an early intervention program, you may need to complete additional training. Additionally, you may need to prove English language proficiency through an additional exam (www.nbcot.org).
Students looking to become occupational therapy assistants can earn an associate's degree in the field. These programs give students the knowledge and preparation for licensure and experience for the job.