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Associate's Degree in Occupational Therapy

An associate's degree and an education as an occupational therapy assistant can open doors to a new career. Occupational therapy assistant jobs span a variety of opportunities including private sector jobs, government employment, and even opportunities with non-profits and outreach programs.

To become an occupational therapy assistant, students start off in an approved associate or bachelor’s degree program.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment opportunities for occupational therapy assistant will grow 31 percent over the next decade! This is much faster than the average for all occupations. This career growth is due in part to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and occupational therapy becoming an integral part of treatment for various illnesses and disabilities.

A career as an occupational therapy assistant is especially great career path for military spouses, as they are certain to secure excellent job opportunities across their many moves. Don’t forget about the MyCAA Program for military spouses; for more info click here.

Education Expectations

Occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists (OTs). Occupational therapy assistants collaborate with occupational therapists to develop and carry out a treatment plan for each patient.

An OT assistant’s primary objectives are helping patients develop, recover, improve, and/or maintain the skills needed for work, recreation, and activities of daily living. Occupational therapy assistant duties include:

Where Do Occupational Therapist Assistants Work?

The BLS lists the top 5 employers of occupational therapy assistants as:
Medical offices (i.e. physical, occupational and speech therapists; and audiologists)46%
Nursing care facilities17%
Hospitals: state, local, and private16%
Educational services: state, local, and private5%
Home healthcare services5%

Associate Degrees for Occupational Therapy Assistants

Most states require a minimum education and training at the associate degree level, through a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). All accredited occupational therapy assistant programs cover 3 key areas:In addition to coursework, occupational therapy assistants must complete supervised clinical experience. This hands-on instruction is done in a healthcare setting such as a nursing care facility or an occupational therapist’s office.

Remember that an Associate Degree for Occupational Therapy Assistant cannot be completed entirely online. Some programs may offer online coursework but hands-on, supervised clinical experience is typically required of accredited programs.

Career Growth and Education Advancement

All states regulate the practice of occupational therapy assistants, with most requiring licensure.Many occupational therapy assistants choose to pursue additional education to become occupational therapists. Becoming an occupational therapist requires education at the master’s degree level.

There are occupational therapist education “bridge” programs designed for practicing occupational therapy assistants to advance their education and become occupational therapists (OTs).

Expected Earnings

Median annual wage for:The highest paid 10% of occupational therapy assistants earn more than $82,000

Median annual wages of occupational therapy assistants by industry, as determined by the BLS:
Nursing care facilities$66,750
Home healthcare services$65,560
Medical offices$61,860
Hospitals; state, local, and private$57,600
Educational services; state, local, and private$52,460

Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate Degree Programs

Ready to earn your degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant?  Check out these great programs available at our partner schools!

Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Offers an Associate of Applied Sciences, Occupational Therapy Assistant degree. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Lake Washington Institute of Technology does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Lone Star College

Offers an Occupational Therapy Assistant, Associate of Applied Sciences degree. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Lone Star College does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

*All stats, facts, and calculations from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information click here.