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Associates degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant

Earn an Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree in as Little as 2 Years

As an occupational therapy assistant, your work could change lives. Led by experienced instructors* and staff committed to your success, our 2-year program can provide the hands-on training and comprehensive education you'll need for helping patients develop day-to-day independence and essential life skills.

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What is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Working under the supervision of occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants help people with diverse physical, psychological, or developmental conditions to develop, improve, or regain their most important life skills, including dressing, eating, and basic hygiene.

Occupational therapy assistants may help patients across the lifespan—from children with disabilities, to injured workers planning to re-enter the workforce, to older adults recovering from a stroke. Your patients may face challenges such as loss of motion, strength, coordination, sensation, perception, cognition, or balance. If you work with a specialized occupational therapist, you may focus on specific populations, for example as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant. No matter what, your goal will always be to empower patients to perform meaningful daily activities and achieve functional independence at home, school, or work.

As an occupational therapy assistant, you may:

  • Coordinate with occupational therapists to implement a plan of care.
  • Assist and encourage patients to complete therapeutic activities and tasks.
  • Educate patients on the use of equipment that will improve their lives.
  • Lead activities that promote coordination and socialization in children with developmental disabilities.
  • Monitor, document, and report on patients’ progress to other care providers.

Your patients will count on you to be compassionate and encouraging as they recover from or learn how to cope with illness or injury. You’ll also need to be adaptable and creative, since each patient will have different needs and concerns. Being detail-oriented and a strong communicator will be helpful for keeping records, following instructions from occupational therapists, and interacting with patients and their family members and caregivers. Occupational therapy assistants may work in a variety of settings, including occupational therapy offices, hospitals, care facilities, schools, and their patients’ homes.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Education Requirements

To enter this career, you must meet specific occupational therapy assistant education requirements, including holding an associate’s degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

At South University, our occupational therapy assistant programs are ACOTE accredited and can be completed in as little as two years. Upon graduating from the associate degree in occupational therapy assistant program, you 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).**? Successfully completing this exam will allow you to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.

State regulations for occupational therapy practice differ, with many state licenses based on NBCOT Certification Examination results. To check the regulations in your state, contact your state licensing department.

Focused Program Courses & Clinical Experiences

Our associate’s degree in occupational therapy assistant program courses are carefully selected and designed to prepare you for a career in occupational therapy and to build your skills in communication, research, critical thinking, and clinical reasoning. Throughout the occupational therapy assistant degree program, the topics you’ll study include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Psychology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Human growth and development
  • Medical conditions
  • Occupational analysis
  • Occupational therapy in mental health
  • Occupational therapy for children and adolescents
  • Occupational therapy for adults and the elderly
  • Occupational therapy management
  • Community practice

As a student, you’ll also complete fieldwork with diverse occupational therapy populations. During your fieldwork, you’ll gain valuable experience working alongside other care providers and performing supervised occupational therapy assistant duties in local healthcare facilities, helping to set you up for future success.

Applying to Our Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs

Anyone planning to enter our occupational therapy assistant programs must meet the requirements for regular admission to the university and will be admitted as a candidate to the occupational therapy assistant degree program. Only after completing prerequisite coursework and achieving the requirements outlined in the Academic Catalog will students be admitted into advanced standing in the associate degree in occupational therapy assistant program.

To obtain more information about our occupational therapy assistant degree program admissions, please contact us at 1.800.688.0932.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the occupational therapy assistant job outlook is strong, with employment growing 29% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the 7% average across occupations. The standard certified occupational therapy assistant salary varies by factors like experience level, employment type, and geographic region.

Ready to take the next step? End your search for occupational therapy assistant schools today, and request information or find a South University campus near you to get started!

*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.

**South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

†Note that a felony conviction may affect your ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

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