Health Professions: Occupational Therapy Assistant
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Occupational Therapy?
- What does an Occupational Therapist do?
- What is the difference between a Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR) and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)?
- What is the difference between Occupational therapy and Physical therapy?
- What tasks would an Occupational Therapy Assistant perform during a day at work?
- Can an Occupational Therapy Assistant become an Occupational Therapist?
- What prerequisites are needed?
- Is the TCC OTA Program accredited?
- How do TCC's OTA students perform on the national certification exam compared to other schools?
- What is the job outlook? Starting salaries?
1. What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy is the art and science of assisting
individuals in meeting a level of independence to perform
the roles necessary for productive living (occupation)
within their environment. These roles are:
- work tasks
- play or leisure tasks.
Therapy is based on the use of everyday activities and
functional (meaningful) tasks to assist people to achieve
their highest level of independence within their environment.
2. What does an Occupational Therapist do?
When you work in the field of Occupational Therapy,
your professional skills will help individuals (of any
age) affected by illness
or injury improve their ability to:
- earn a living
- care for their personal needs
You may work in a variety of settings including:
- public schools
- rehabilitation hospitals
- mental health centers
- general hospitals
- nursing homes
- home health agencies
3. What is the difference between a Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR) and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)?
- An OTR has an OTD entry level masters degree, post bachelors degree,
or a bachelors degree from an accredited
program and has passed the National Registration Exam.
- A COTA has either a two-year associate degree or certificate
from an accredited program and has passed the National
- An OTR evaluates, establishes goals and a treatment
plan for a patient.
- A COTA follows the treatment
plan with a patient and may be responsible for standardized
evaluations as directed by the OTR.
- The COTA is responsible for reporting any changes to
the OTR and documentation as needed. The frequency
and type of supervision provided by the OTR depends
on the experience level and skills of the COTA, and
the employment setting. Specific guidelines are
established by the American Occupational Therapy Association
4. What is the difference between Occupational therapy and Physical therapy?
- Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy often work
together as part of the health care team.
Therapy may be described as treatment focusing on assisting
individuals to regain or improve movement and mobility.
Occupational Therapy identifies functional, psychological,
environmental and physical factors for treatment.
The goal of both disciplines is for the individual to
regain as much function and independence as possible.
5. What tasks would an Occupational Therapy Assistant perform during a day at work?
Depending on where you work, your day as an occupational
therapy assistant may include:
- Aiding the growth and development
of premature babies
- Providing activities to build self-esteem in teens
recovering from drug or alcohol abuse
- Teaching an elderly person who is unable to bend
forward how to put on his/her socks with adaptive
- Providing activities for people with mental illness
to increase the appropriateness of their interactions
- Providing muscle re-education so people
dealing with strokes can use their arm functionally
during their daily living tasks.
6. Can an Occupational Therapy Assistant become an Occupational Therapist?
There are several professional level education programs
directed toward specific career advancement for Certified
Occupational Therapy Assistants. Once again, competition
may be high and previous training does not guarantee
admission. Further information is available from the
American Occupational Therapy Association.
7. What prerequisites are needed?
- 2.5 GPA or better
- 30 hours of observation or work experience
with an Occupational Therapist or a Certified Occupational
Therapy Assistant (form due by May 1) accrued within at least 2 different practice settings
- BIO 141, MTH 3 or Placement into MTH 3
8. Is the TCC OTA Program accredited?
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is accredited by:
Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
Lane Ste 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Phone: (301) 652-2682
9. How do TCC's OTA students perform on the national certification exam compared to other schools?
- Total number of program graduates: 58
- NBCOT first-time test takes: 61
- NBCOT first-time test takers passed: 49
- NBCOT first-time test takers pass rate: 82%
- Retention rate in the OTA program: 94%
Percentage derived from the number students accepted into the program and the number who successfully graduated
between 2010 and 2012.
- Jobs after graduating.
Between 2010 and 2012 all graduates who sought
employment found jobs within one month of graduating the program.
10. What is the job outlook? Starting salaries?
Employment is expected to grow much faster than average as demand for occupational therapy services rises and as occupational therapists increasingly use assistants and aides. Job prospects should be very good for occupational therapist assistants. Job seekers holding only a high school diploma might face keen competition for occupational therapist aide jobs. Employment change. Employment of occupational therapist assistants and aides is expected to grow 43 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. More on the Bureau of Labor web site.
Earnings (from Bureau of Labor)
Median annual earnings of occupational therapist assistants were $51,010 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,790. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of occupational therapist assistants in May 2010 were:
|Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists
|Nursing care facilities
|General medical and surgical hospitals