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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Associate’s Degree

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Fast Facts

National annual wage range:
$39,160 to 80,0903
Tuition and fees:
$39,322
Program length:
88 weeks

Performing the functions of independent, everyday life is difficult for some people due to surgery, injuries, illnesses or other challenges. They need help learning or relearning the skills needed to play, work and carry on the basic activities that most of us take for granted.

That’s the job of an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), working under the direction of an occupational therapist in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics and schools. For example, an OTA might work with injured workers to help them get back into the work force by teaching them how to work around lost motor skills. Or, an OTA might work with people with learning disabilities to help them become more independent.

The Virginia College OT Assistant Program

The Associate of Applied Science degree program in Occupational Therapy Assistant at Virginia College is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). In addition to classroom experience, this program also includes a 16-week internship of full time, on-the-job application of skills. Graduates will be eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination. 1

What Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Do?

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) have a diverse set of responsibilities and practice opportunities. Typically, an OTA will work under the guidance of an occupational therapist (OT). While the OT evaluates and develops treatment plans for clients/patients, the OTA puts those plans into action, teaching individuals how to overcome the challenges of performing daily activities because of an injury, illness or disability.

Occupational therapy assistants focus on these kinds of patients:

  • Children and youth
  • Aging populations
  • Persons with mental health issues
  • Those with physical challenges
  • Workers who need rehabilitation to return to work

Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Description

Specific job responsibilities for an OTA will depend on his or her practice area and work setting. Many OTAs, however, have duties including:

  • Understanding treatment plans developed by the OT
  • Administering tests such as functional muscle and range of motion
  • Adapting environments for people with disabilities
  • Helping patients perform therapeutic activities such as specific stretches and other physical exercises
  • Working with children who have developmental disabilities and leading them in play activities that promote coordination and motor skills
  • Teaching patients to improve their daily life skills by using special equipment
  • Recording patient progress

Growth of Occupational Therapy Assistant Jobs

Employment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase 41% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. 2 The recent 100 Best Jobs report from U.S. News & World Report (based on salary, employment rate, growth, stress level and work-life balance) ranks the occupational therapy assistant profession at number 12.

How Much Do Occupational Therapy Assistants Make?

According to the latest national data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the national annual wage range for occupational therapy assistants and aides is between $39,160 and $80,090 per year.3 An occupational therapy assistant’s salary will vary based on experience, location of employment, and the specific job title and duties being performed.

Virginia College Prepares You to Find the Job.

Not only do we help you learn to do the job, we help you find the job. The Virginia College Career Development Specialists can help you hone your job search skills like resume building, interview techniques, job market research and job-lead follow up. This team can also assist your job search through its relationships with local employers.

How Do I Pay for College?

The right combination of financial aid programs could help you manage the costs involved in obtaining your degree. Determine the types of financial aid available, how to apply for aid and what you can do to make school more affordable.

Get Started Now.

If you are looking for a challenging career and have a desire to learn, achieve, and give your best to society, a career as an occupational therapy assistant may be for you. Complete the Request More Information form and take the first step toward your successful new career.

Available at the following locations:

Richmond, Virginia

Virginia College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges (ACICS). ACICS has granted approval for Virginia College to offer this program. Virginia College in Richmond is licensed to operate by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

The occupational therapy assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org.

1Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The NBCOT is located at 12 South Summit Av., Suite 100, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, telephone number 301-990-7979, web site www.nbcot.org. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. NCBOT exam data can be found here: https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited October 17, 2017). Expected growth rate through the year 2024. National long-term projections and salary averages may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth or any particular salary.

3The median annual wage for occupational therapy assistants was $59,010 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,090. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited October 17, 2017). Expected growth rate through the year 2024. National long-term projections and salary averages may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth or any particular salary.

The College makes no representation, promise or guarantee that completion of this program either assures passage of any certification examination or acceptance by any state board. Prospective and current students, as well as graduates, are responsible for researching and understanding all examination, registration or licensure requirements in any state in which they seek to become registered, licensed or employed. Virginia College does not guarantee employment or career advancement.

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