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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Associate's Degree

Healthcare Assistant

Fast Facts

National annual wage range:
$39,160 to $80,090*
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.

Occupational Therapy Job Outlook

Due to growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function who require therapy services, employment for certified occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations.* While on the job, occupational therapy assistants may perform the following:

  • Administer tests such as functional muscle and range of motion
  • Adapt environments for people with disabilities
  • Design, fabricate, and apply orthotic devices and equipment
  • Help clients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities using specifically designed exercises
  • Teach daily living skills to help clients lead more independent, productive, and satisfying lives

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.

As of August 2017, the OTA program has been denied Pre-Accreditation Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The college however is confident the program does meet the criteria needed to comply with ACOTE standards. Therefore, the college will continue to pursue accreditation and is scheduled for an on-site visit October 16-18, 2017. Upon successful completion of the On-Site visit and subsequent approval of ACOTE accreditation, program graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for occupational therapy assistants administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

More information about ACOTE can be found at

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 Much Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Make?

Occupational therapy assistants improve lives in practical ways. Their work requires patience, persistence, and compassion, but it can be both personally and financially rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, occupational therapy assistants and aides make an average of $54,520 per year.* An occupational therapy assistant's salary will vary based on experience, location of employment, and the specific job title and duties being performed.

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.

* The 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, 2016–2017 Edition, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, (accessed August 15, 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 occupational therapy assistant program has applied for accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA): ACOTE, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449; 301.652.AOTA;

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