To become an occupational therapy assistant, you need to earn a two-year degree from an accredited institution. These programs are typically found at technical colleges or community colleges.
OTAs assist patients with therapy and sometimes work with children or adults that have disabilities. They may also teach patients how to best use specialized equipment as a way of coping with having those disabilities.
As a student, you’ll need to expect to take classes that focus on human development, therapeutic principles, developmental disabilities, and a variety of other courses. You will learn various techniques and routines to carry out your job duties effectively.
The Best OTA Schools and Programs in the US
There are so many different schools that offer occupational therapist assistant degrees, but it would be a good idea to choose one that is known for producing quality OTA candidates. With that said, here are some of the top programs from around the country. This list comes to us from Accredited Schools Online and is based on cost, student-teacher ratios, as well as graduation rates in addition to other factors.
Houston Community College
According to the Houston Community College website, the program they offer is a full-time day program. Every year, they accept a maximum of 20-25 students. If you complete the program, you will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree.
South Arkansas Community College
In order to be accepted into the OTA program at South Arkansas Community College, there are a few prerequisites that need to be met first. You need to have taken English Composition, College Algebra, General Psychology, and several other courses with a grade of C or higher to be considered. Once you meet all of the requirements, you will earn your Associates of Applied Science degree.
Cape Fear Community College
The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Cape Fear Community College will earn you an Associates of Applied Science degree after a total of five semesters. The school accepts a maximum of 20 students every year. Applicants are notified in the Spring and classes start the following Fall semester.
Augusta Technical College
The OTA program at Augusta Technical College is a total of six semesters. The program requires you to satisfactorily complete several courses before being admitted. These classes include English, math, and humanities classes with a minimum 2.75 GPA. If you are not accepted into the OTA program, then you can reapply for the following year.
Sinclair College also has an Occupational Therapy Assistant program, but to be accepted there are specific classes you must complete. They include a variety of biology classes. You also must pass a test of academic skills in addition to having a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered. The coursework totals five semesters in full-time schooling and includes clinical training to earn your Associates of Applied Science degree.
Central Community College
The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Central Community College requires that you must have a high school diploma, GED, home school transcript, or other equivalent documentation showing that you are prepared for college requirements. As per the college’s website, this is the only two-year OTA program in the state of Nebraska, and upon completion, you will earn your Associates of Applied Science degree.
Pitt Community College
At Pitt Community College, you’ll find a two-year OTA program that will earn you an Associates of Applied Science degree. You can expect full-time coursework if you are accepted into the program. The School has built a positive reputation within the OT community claiming high-quality graduates within the states of North and South Carolina.
Cincinnati State and Technical and Community College
The OTA program at Cincinnati State is a full five semesters that you will have to complete to earn your Associates of Applied Science degree. It is expected that upon completion, you will be able to complete entry-level work when it comes to meeting client needs using the skills you’ve learned while in college.
Murray State College
To pursue the OTA program at Murray State, you have to complete a full 34 credit hours of general education prerequisite courses. The program is a year and a half long for a total of sixteen months of full-time coursework. Once the program is successfully completed, you will earn your Associates of Applied Science degree.
Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas
The OTA program at Cossatot requires you to have prerequisites completed and only admits a maximum of 15-18 students per year. Applicants are ranked as per their GPA, reported observations, as well as letters of recommendation. If you are not accepted, you are encouraged to reapply the by the following admission deadline.
North Central State College
At North Central State, the OTA program has a limited number allowed for enrollment every year. Applications are due in January for the following fall semester. The total coursework is equal to five semesters to include foundational classes and clinical practice. Once the work is completed, you will earn your Associates of Applied Science degree.
Owens Community College
The occupational therapy assistant coursework at Owens Community College is five semesters long for a total of 63-65 credit hours. Some general education requirements are a part of the program, so if you were to transfer in with these prerequisites completed, you might be able to cut some time down on the expected length of the program. In order to complete the program, you will need to complete everything as designed, and you will earn your Associates of Applied Science degree.
Roane State Community College
The OTA program at Roane State is an intense program. It includes three semesters of coursework along with a full semester of full-time clinical practice to earn an Associates of Applied Science degree. Something to note about this curriculum, though, is that it is a combination of both online and in-person coursework, which makes this excellent for someone who needs that kind of flexibility.
Del Mar College
Del Mar College only admits approximately 20 students per year into their OTA program. Their graduation rate is exemplary as they can boast a near-perfect graduation rate of individuals admitted into the program. There are considerable prerequisites that need to be taken care of including course requirements, letters of recommendation, a 2.5 GPS, and a minimum of 10 hours of observation within the field of occupational therapy.
Lorain County Community College
The occupational therapy program at Lorrain only accepts 25 students every year, and the program is highly competitive. In order to apply, it is required that you undergo a criminal background check in addition to submitting any transcripts showcasing previous education. That includes high school and college level coursework. You will also need to take their placement assessment and fulfill any other admission requirements that are specific to the OTA program process.
Kennebec Valley Community College
At Kennebec Valley Community College, the occupational therapy assistant program is a two-year program that will prepare you to become an entry-level OTA. This particular campus has the only OTA program in the state of Maine, too. Acceptance is limited, and if you are not accepted, you are encouraged to apply again by the following admission deadline.
Becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant
These schools turn out some of the top occupational therapy assistants in the country, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a quality program closer to home. They are there, but you’ll have to search.
As you begin to research schools in your area, there are a few key things to keep in mind. A quality OTA program is going to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education or ACOTE. If the school is not accredited by this organization, then opt for a different school.
You should also verify that the program of study will prepare you to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam at the end of your course and clinical work. The NBCOT is the test that will prove you should be licensed in whichever state you’re in, so it is essential for this to be part of the goal of your program.
Once you’ve decided on which school you want to attend, be sure to check all of the prerequisites you’ll need when you apply. If you don’t get in the first time, don’t give up and always apply again.