What Education Is Needed to Be a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant?

Occupational therapy assistants and aides assist patients in developing skills to help them live their daily lives. Read on to learn more about the steps you must take to become an occupational therapist assistant. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview

A certificate or associate's degree is the standard education required for becoming a certified occupational therapist assistant. In addition, most states require graduates to pass a certification exam to become licensed.

Important Facts about this Field

Median SalaryThe median yearly salary for occupational therapy assistants in 2018 was $60,220. The highest paying industry for these assistants is other ambulatory health care services, with an average salary of $68,290.
Job OutlookEmployment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow by 29% between 2016-2026, which is much faster than average.
Key SkillsOccupational therapy assistants must be compassionate and flexible, they must pay attention to detail, have good interpersonal communication skills, and possess a certain amount of physical strength.
Similar OccupationsDental Assistants, Medical Assistants, Pharmacy Technicians, Physical Therapist Assistants

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

Occupational therapist assistants, also commonly known as occupational therapy assistants, must generally have graduated from either a certificate or associate's degree program, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). In 2017, there were more than 200 accredited occupational therapy assistant programs in the U.S. These programs typically take one to two years to complete and include a 16-week fieldwork requirement, during which students will intern in a community or clinic setting under direct supervision.

During the first year of an occupational therapy assistant program, students learn introductory medical terminology and healthcare fundamentals. They may also study anatomy and physiology. In the second year of the program, students will undergo more rigorous occupational therapy training in areas like the following:

  • Mental health
  • Pediatrics
  • Gerontology

Individuals wishing to enter an occupational therapy assistant training program can improve their chances of admission by completing high school courses in biology and other health-related subjects. Applicants with work experience in nursing homes, occupational or physical therapists' offices, or other healthcare environments are also desirable candidates for admission.

Certification

Most states regulate occupational therapy assistants and require national certification. This entails passing a certification exam, which tests graduates through a live practice analysis that assesses skills, abilities, and critical knowledge. The exam is issued by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The certification process also requires graduates to prove their understanding of and adherence to the organization's Code of Conduct.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • College of Health Care Professions

    College of Health Care Professions responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at College of Health Care Professions:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Dallas, San Antonio
  • Lincoln Tech

    Lincoln Tech responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Lincoln Tech:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

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    • Illinois: Melrose Park
    • New Jersey: Melrose Park, Edison, Moorestown
    • Rhode Island: Melrose Park, Edison, Moorestown, Lincoln
  • Baker College

    Baker College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Baker College:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Allen Park, Auburn Hills, Cadillac, Clinton Township, Flint, Jackson, Muskegon, Owosso
  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • San Joaquin Valley College

    San Joaquin Valley College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at San Joaquin Valley College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Atascadero, Bakersfield, Delano, Fresno, Hanford, Hesperia, Lancaster, Madera, Ontario, Porterville, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Mirage, Salida, Santa Maria, Visalia
  • Carrington College

    Carrington College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Carrington College:

    • Associate Programs

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

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    • Arizona: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon
    • California: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton
    • Idaho: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton, Boise
    • New Mexico: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton, Boise, Albuquerque
    • Nevada: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton, Boise, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Reno
    • Oregon: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton, Boise, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Reno, Portland
    • Washington: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tuscon, Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton, Boise, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Reno, Portland, Spokane
  • College of Westchester

    College of Westchester responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at College of Westchester:

    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: White Plains
  • City College

    City College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at City College:

    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Altamonte Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Hollywood
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