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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Discover a rewarding career that’s in demand! Employment of Occupational Therapy Assistants is projected to grow 31.6 percent from 2016 to 2026 (California Employment Development Department).

American Career College offers a 20-month certified Occupational Therapy Assistants associate degree program - uniquely blending classroom, clinical, and laboratory learning—so you may quickly and effectively prepare you to succeed in this challenging yet rewarding field.

  • Overview
  • Careers After I Graduate
  • What Will I Learn?
  • What Will I Do?

Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Overview

Throughout the curriculum, OTA program students are exposed to traditional areas of practice where occupational therapy professionals deliver their services. These areas of practice include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Working with children and youth in clinical inpatient and clinical outpatient services, as well as in schools
  • Working with adults in clinical inpatient and clinical outpatient services, as well as in work hardening programs
  • Working with older adults in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and in day care centers
  • Working with adults with mental health and behavioral challenges who receive OT services in behavioral clinics, acute care community hospitals and state hospitals

The students will also have direct exposure to emerging practice areas, specifically to the driver rehabilitation program.

The OTA program teaches students to implement occupational therapy treatment care plans, train and educate clients and their caregivers, be sensitive to clients’ different cultural backgrounds, embrace occupation-based practice as “the means and the end” of the OT practice, and to collaborate with other health care professionals to provide excellent, occupation-based and client-centered care under the appropriate supervision of a licensed occupational therapist.

Personal attitude is very important in the delivery of health care. As such, OTA students’ awareness of their own behavioral strengths and weaknesses and how that affects their attitude is strongly emphasized from day one of the occupational therapy assistant program. This is accomplished through self-assessment of behavior using a modified form of the Generic Abilities Assessment tool.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant (Associate of Occupational Science) program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) (ACOTE 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929; Phone: 301-652-AOTA /

Graduates of the accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant program are eligible to take the national certification examination for the occupation therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate‘s ability to perform fieldwork, take the NBCOT certification examination, and attain state licensure.

ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs satisfy the states’ educational requirements in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Students graduating from an ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational program are eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification exam and apply for licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, please refer to the AOTA State Licensure webpage.

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For a breakdown of the program’s tuition and fees, please click here.

Careers After I Graduate

Upon successful completion of the ACC Occupational Therapy Assistant program, you will be able to sit for the National Certification Exam. Upon passing the exam, you will become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).

As a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, you will have the opportunity to work as an entry-level therapist in settings such as:

  • Private outpatient clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Schools

A Career That Grows with You

Employment of Occupational Therapy Assistants is projected to grow 31.6 percent from 2016 to 2026 (California Employment Development Department). Demand for occupational therapy is expected to rise significantly over the coming decade in response to the health needs of the aging baby-boom generation and a growing elderly population. Older adults are more prone than younger people to conditions and ailments such as arthritis and stroke. These conditions can affect the ability to perform a variety of everyday activities. Occupational therapy assistants will be needed to help occupational therapists in caring for these people. Occupational therapy will also continue to be used for treating children and young adults with developmental disabilities like autism.

*Administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice and licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

What Will I Learn

Our philosophical belief is that humans are active beings—and the Occupational Therapy Assistant class curriculum encourages students to become active in their own process of learning. The class curriculum follows a human developmental model (biological and psychological) as the conceptual framework and the three domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains.

The human developmental model is used to guide college students in developing their clinical skills, and in understanding the impact of challenges on occupational performance during the life span of individuals. The three domains of Bloom’s taxonomy (knowledge, skills, and attitude) are applied throughout the class curriculum.

The class curriculum has been developed to promote the development and shaping of intellectual skills. Students will recognize facts, procedural patterns, and concepts. The acquisition of skills pertinent to the profession, such as practice of hands-on activities, is of utmost importance and is used extensively throughout the school's program.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is 98 quarter credits to be completed in twenty months. The last four months of the school's program are dedicated to a full time Fieldwork experience (clinical education under the supervision of an OTA or OT professional).

 General Education Courses:

  • Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
  • Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology – Lab
  • Written Communications I
  • College Mathematics I
  • Introduction to Psychology

Core Occupational Therapy Assistant and Other Courses:

  • Principles of Occupational Therapy
  • Conditions in Occupational Therapy I
  • Therapeutic use of Occupations
  • Conditions in Occupational Therapy II
  • Human Structure and Function in Occupational Therapy
  • Professional Communication for Health Professionals
  • Group Dynamics and Leadership
  • Level I Field Work
  • Occupational Performance from Birth and Adolescence
  • Occupational Therapy Services in Psychosocial Settings
  • Occupational Performance in Adulthood
  • Inter-professional Collaborative Practice and Cultural Competence in Healthcare
  • Occupational Performance in the Elderly
  • OTA Clinical Competency
  • Business Concepts in Healthcare
  • Level II Fieldwork A
  • Level II Fieldwork B
  • Introduction to Fieldwork

What Will I Do as a Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational Therapists are directly involved in providing therapy to patients, while occupational therapy assistants typically perform support activities. Assistants work under the direction of Occupational Therapists.

Occupational therapy assistants typically do the following:

  • Use activities as interventions to help patients improve their ability to perform daily tasks such as dressing.
  • Lead children who have developmental disabilities in play activities that promote coordination and socialization
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment; for example, showing a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use devices that make eating easier
  • Record patients’ progress, report to occupational therapists, and carry out other administrative tasks

Occupational therapy assistants collaborate with occupational therapists to develop and carry out a treatment plan for each patient. Treatment plans range from teaching the proper way for patients to move from a bed into a wheelchair to the best way to stretch their muscles. For example, an occupational therapy assistant might support injured workers’ return to the workforce by teaching them how to work around lost motor skills.

These professionals may also work with people with learning disabilities to teach them skills that allow them to be more independent.

Assistants monitor activities to make sure patients are doing them correctly. They also encourage the patients. They record the patient’s progress so the therapist can change the treatment plan if the patient is not getting the desired results.

For more information on a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, please visit the American Occupational Therapy Association's website at

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition

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