Occupational Therapy Assisting Programs, Schools and Courses
Find a School >
Healthcare Colleges Home > Healthcare Programs > Occupational Therapy Assisting Programs

Occupational Therapy Assisting Programs

Occupational Therapy Assisting Programs

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) help injured, disabled or ill patients recover and develop the necessary skills of daily life through therapeutic applications of everyday activities. They often work with special needs groups, such as patients with Alzheimer's disease or children with developmental difficulties. These assistants may introduce patients to specialized health technology designed for a specific medical condition, such as devices for individuals with Parkinson's disease that can make it easier to eat. OTAs also may compose reports on patients' progress and perform basic administrative tasks. For more information, see our occupational therapist assistants career page.

Occupational Therapy Assisting Program Information

Occupational therapy assisting programs are typically offered at community colleges, technical schools and career academies. While traditional programs take place on campus, students in some parts of the country may turn to hybrid programs that split time between campus-based and virtual learning environments. Both program models usually require students to participate in fieldwork courses and attend laboratory instruction in person, but classes that teach academic principles can be conducted in the classroom or online. Studies could include psychology, biology and children's health.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require occupational therapy assistants to be licensed (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). State licensing programs typically only issue licenses to graduates of programs that have been recognized by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Once students graduate from an occupational therapy assisting program, they can seek certification from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Although most employers don't make certification a necessity among job candidates, applicants who can use the official title Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) may be preferable to those who have not passed the certification exam. It's important for students to look into the requirements for certification and licensing in the region where they're seeking employment, because states have different sets of rules and regulations.

Occupational Therapy Assisting Program Types

Typically, occupational therapy assisting schools feature associate degrees. Here are two different types of degrees commonly offered through occupational therapy assisting programs.

Associate of Science (A.S.):

  • A.S. programs can usually be completed in about 24 months of full-time study.
  • May require between 85 and 110 credit hours, depending on the institution.
  • Programs could be designed to maximize a student's ability to continue education in a bachelor's degree program.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S):

  • Some A.A.S. programs can potentially be completed in less than two years, depending on a student's course load.
  • A.A.S. programs may have as much coursework as for the A.S. track, but some could require as little as 70-80 credit hours of combined academic, laboratory and fieldwork classes.
  • Programs may be designed for students interested in a more direct route to the workforce, with less emphasis on transfer credits in general education.

Continuing education may be necessary after graduation to maintain credentials or as part of state licensing requirements.

Occupational Therapy Assisting Course Descriptions

Occupational therapy assisting schools may vary in overall degree plan and the specific presentation of course material, but there are some class subjects that most programs share. Here's a short list of courses that students can expect to see on their schedule:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Examines the major systems of the human body and their functions, including membranes, cells, tissues and regulatory processes
  • Medical Terminology: Introduces specific vocabulary used in the medical profession, including analysis and translation of word parts like prefixes, suffixes and roots from Greek or Latin
  • Social Sciences: May include the psychology of motivation, human developmental psychology, behavioral psychology, sociology, individual and group psychology, or other social science fundamentals
  • Introduction to Occupational Therapy: Focuses on the history, scope of practice and standards of occupational therapy professions while discussing ethics and professionalism in the healthcare industry
  • Therapeutic Technology: Addresses various therapeutic options available in an occupational therapy context and aims to teach students how to select appropriate equipment or devices for a given situation

Related Career Options

A background in occupational therapy assisting could also be a springboard for other healthcare career paths. Occupational therapists need to earn master's degrees, but some other healthcare career paths may be more accessible. With the additional schooling and certifications required, graduates from occupational therapy programs may be able to pursue positions like these:

  • Physical Therapy Assistants: PTAs use techniques such as massage and stretching to treat patients recovering from illness, injury or surgery. They may also talk with patients and family members about their role in treatment.
  • Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses: LPNs and LVNs monitor patient health and administer basic nursing care. They typically keep health records and prepare patient status reports for registered nurses and doctors.
  • Registered Nurses: RNs may work with physicians to devise treatment plans for patients based on symptoms and medical history. They oversee patient care and may also operate clinical diagnostic equipment to perform tests and analyze results. Nurses need to complete formal training programs and obtain professional licenses.

Links to Sources and Associations

More information about occupational therapy assisting can be found on the following websites:

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education

The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, 2012

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy

Explore these online and campus healthcare programs

Refine School Matches
LOCATION
Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
SUBJECT
Clear All

DEGREE

PROGRAM TYPE

START TIME

 
Results:  5
Matching School Ads
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Platt College , Anaheim
Good for Working Adults
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in Christian Counseling
  • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
  • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
  • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
  • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CACREP-Accredited)-General Program
  • Impact your world with a degree from Walden. Start today!
  • Walden degree and certificate programs are designed for working professionals. Click for more information.
  • Receive personal attention from advisors in enrollment, financial aid, academics, and other support services to make the most of your online program.
  • Study worry-free knowing you have 24/7 access to Walden technical support.
  • Convenient start dates throughout the year
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Doctor of Education: Community Care & Counseling: Marriage & Family
  • Liberty University provides a worldclass education from a christ-centered worldview
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels
  • No standardized testing if student meets admission requirements
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • 87% of Liberty University students receive some form of financial aid
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
BA: Psychology - Clinical/Counseling
  • Understand the Human Experience with a Psychology Degree from Saint Leo University!
  • Whether you're interested in general psychology or clinical practices, earn your Psychology degree from one of the top-ranked Universities in Florida!
  • Receive an Accredited Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in any of our multiple Psychology programs from Saint Leo University!
  • Saint Leo University provides academic excellence, flexibility, affordability, and a wide range of educational programs with financial aid and scholarships available to those who qualify.
  • Learn on your schedule with our 6 convenient available start dates throughout the year. Get started on earning your accredited Psychology degree today!
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits