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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Associate's Degree

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Fast Facts

National annual wage range:
Tuition and fees:
Program length:
77 weeks

Earn Your Occupational Therapy Degree

Train for a career in occupational therapy in as little as 18 months.

Occupational therapy is a challenging career field that can be extremely rewarding. If you would enjoy helping people overcome physical or developmental obstacles and regain daily living skills, you should consider a career as an occupational therapy assistant.

In the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Brightwood College, you will have the opportunity to learn how to help people with varying levels of disabilities to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. In addition, you will gain real-world experience working with occupational therapists and other professionals through externships in the community.

A Hands-on Occupational Therapy Assistant Education

Occupational therapy combines rehabilitative exercises and activities to help patients lead more independent lives. It takes a specific set of skills to work as an occupational therapy assistant. Earning an associate’s degree in occupational therapy can help you develop the attributes you will need to help patients function to the best of their abilities.

Hands-on labs, interactive discussions, and active class participation will be a large part of your occupational therapy training. In your occupational therapy courses, you will have the opportunity to practice:

  • Writing assessments.
  • Analyzing activities.
  • Developing appropriate treatment plans.
  • Using games and crafts for therapy.

Our instructors not only encourage the practical application of occupational therapy concepts, but also seek to equip you with the professional skills to pursue your career goals.

Real-World Occupational Therapy Assistant Training

For those who learn best by doing, fieldwork is an opportunity to get hands-on training for a career in occupational therapy. As a part of your coursework, you will complete two clinical practicums. These real-world experiences will build on the foundational learning you receive in the classroom.

In your clinical, you will work under the supervision of medical professionals in a healthcare setting. The practicums are designed to give you in-depth experience as well as exposure to treatment plans and day-to-day occupational therapy exercises. You can observe real patient interactions firsthand and practice basic treatment activities. This is an opportunity for you to engage in meaningful fieldwork and gain on-the-job training.

What Does an Occupational Therapist 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.1 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 median pay for occupational therapy assistants and aides is $56,690 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,730 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59,100. An occupational therapy assistant’s salary will vary based on experience, location of employment, and the specific job title and duties being performed.1

How to Become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy national certification is required for employment in the field. In addition, most states require licensure to practice.

Accreditation status of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program:

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program (OTA) at Brightwood College Dallas has been granted Full Accreditation Status 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. The phone number for ACOTE is (301) 652-AOTA (2682), and its Web address is

The OTA program must be accredited by ACOTE in order for graduates to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Examination for the Occupational Therapy Assistant. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT exam for professional certification and/or attain state licensure.

National certification from NBCOT is the same for all OTA candidates. However, state licensure examinations and requirements will vary. Your OTA program director will be able to tell you what the licensure requirements are for your state.

Occupational Therapy Certification Exam Outcomes

Certification examination pass rates from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) are available at

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 Today

Connect with us to take the first step toward a new career and a brighter future. Request more information or give us a call to learn more about our Occupational Therapy Assistant program.


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. Brightwood College does not guarantee employment or career advancement.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, (visited July 05, 2018). Expected growth rate through the year 2026. 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. Median pay is the wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

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