The Diploma/Certificate in Occupational Therapy Assisting will prepare you for a career in the medical field as an Occupational therapy assistant. Typically, Occupational therapy assistants work in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, occupational therapist offices and nursing care facilities. Occupational therapy assistants and aides spend much of their time on their feet while setting up equipment and, in the case of assistants, providing therapy to patients.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
You have options when you are choosing the best program for your plans. First, you may choose to take your OTA classes at the same time that you’re taking your liberal arts classes. This makes your time in school go by more quickly. You could finish in as little as 16 months.
Your second option is to take your liberal arts classes, then begin your OTA classes. Your program will last for about two years with this option but you’re less likely to be burnt out by the schedule.
Other programs don’t have the same degree of flexibility. In one program, classes are only scheduled and offered in the fall and spring semesters. Therefore, it will take you 24 months to complete.
Tuition and fees for occupational therapy assistant students run around $4,500 per year. This can be lower or higher depending on the type of institution you choose to attend. However, a number of programs cost slightly less the second year than the first.
In one trade school’s Right-to-Know completion rates page, 298 students graduated within three years. This was a percentage of 18.3% of the entire cohort. This number included students who earned their associate’s degree within three years, or their certificate within 150% of “normal” time to completion. This variable is affected depending on how may credit hours a particular major requires. However, there has been a general trend in all degrees toward longer timeframes for completion. You should do your best to remain on track and look at graduation rates for any schools you consider. If one school’s rate is significantly lower than the others, it may indicate an issue with the program outside of the normal rigors of the classes you will take.
High-quality OTA programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). This accreditation organization is held in high regard in the occupational therapy field. Students in an accredited OTA program will find excellent jobs and decent salary offers.
When it’s time to look for a job as you near graduation, you may believe you know everything there is to know, and that’s certainly possible. However, if you find you need assistance in writing your resume, crafting an eye-catching cover letter, nailing an interview, or sailing through a salary negotiation, then you’ll be turning to the Career and Placement Services office at your trade school or community college. It might be a good idea to check what types of post-graduation assistance your perspective schools offer.
No matter your major, you want to find the best school possible. Even trade schools are ranked according to several categories. Not only are college categories ranked, but employment, salaries, and industries are as well. Certain programs will lead to potentially higher salaries. Depending on your major, you may begin with a higher entry-level salary and this could continue throughout your career.
While we wouldn’t suggest choosing your school based entirely on rankings, they are an excellent place to look for extra information, or to help you choose between two seemingly perfect candidates.
Every good Occupational Therapy Assistant program should be accredited under ACOTE. Students who have graduated from an ACOTE-accredited program will be able to sit for the national certification exam. Students from accredited OT programs can also file for financial aid. Without appropriate accreditation, neither of those things is possible. Accreditation offers you, and anyone who might hire you, assurance that you have received the best possible education in Occupational Therapy.