What Is the Salary for a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant?

To work as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), you must graduate from an accredited technical or associate's degree program in occupational therapy assisting and earn national certification. Your salary depends on the industry in which you work, your geographical location and your experience. Read on to learn more about salaries for this occupation. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

According to PayScale.com, COTAs earned a median annual salary of $44,220 as of September 2015. Most salaries ranged from $29,898-$61,230. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2014 that the lowest-paid 10% of occupational therapy assistants made $36,420 or less, while the highest-paid 10% earned $76,790 or more.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Job Outlook (2012-2022) 43% (for all occupational therapy assistants)
On-the-Job Training Minimum of 16 weeks of fieldwork
Key Skills Compassion, flexibility, physical strength, attention to detail, and interpersonal skills
Similar Occupations Dental assistant, medical assistant, occupational therapist, physical therapist assistant

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary by Industry

According to May 2014 BLS figures, occupational therapy assistants working for home healthcare services made the highest average wage of $67,180. Other industries with top average salaries included other ambulatory healthcare services ($63,760), nursing care facilities ($60,790), retirement communities and assisted living facilities ($59,330) and other health practitioners' offices ($59,000). While offices of other health practitioners and nursing care facilities employed the highest levels of occupational therapy assistants - over 19,000 of them - general medical and surgical hospitals employed 4,070 of these workers and paid a mean wage of $50,970.

Salary by Location

In May 2014, the BLS reported that Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and California had the highest occupational therapy assistant employment levels. The average wages in the states were $70,610, $48,640, $57,240, $53,150 and $66,580, respectively. The states that had the highest average pay at that time included Nevada ($100,260), Texas ($70,610), California ($66,580), Maryland ($65,350), and New Jersey ($64,040). The BLS reported that some states paid much lower average wages of $36,670-$49,610, and some of these locations included Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Salary by Experience

According to September 2015 salary data from PayScale.com, entry-level COTAs earned $29,608-$58,282. Salaries increased to $29,202-$64,347 for mid-career professionals and to $30,268-$68,463 for experienced COTAs.

Education and Certification Requirements

The BLS recommends that high school students interested in occupational therapy assisting take classes in biology and other health-related subjects. High school graduates with work experience in nursing homes, occupational or physical therapists' offices, or other health care settings might be looked upon more highly by college admissions officers.

Those who plan to pursue certification in this field should choose technical schools or community colleges with occupational therapy assisting programs accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). These programs typically take two years to complete. Initial courses include fundamentals of health care, basic medical terminology, physiology and anatomy. Students then undertake a more intense course of study, with classes in gerontology, pediatrics, mental health and adult physical disabilities.

To earn the title Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA), occupational therapy assisting graduates must qualify for certification through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. This entails graduation from an AOTA-accredited school and passage of a national certification exam. To maintain certification, a COTA must complete at least 36 hours of professional development activities every three years.

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

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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    • Doctoral
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  • Independence University

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    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Herzing University

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  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
  • 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: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio
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