Young or old, we all have a job to do: the job of living. Learning, growing, playing, working, managing our homes, and caring for our families could all be considered some of life's occupations. Unfortunately, physical, emotional, or other challenges often prevent individuals from fully participating in these duties of everyday living.
Disease, injury, mental illness, or developmental problems can make it difficult to do everyday activities independently and safely. Occupational therapy assistants make it possible for people to regain independence and live life to its fullest. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you will make a difference! You will be able to improve the lives of people of all ages, from newborns to the very old (AOTA, 2010).
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) focus on helping people of all ages regain, develop, or master everyday skills in order to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Working under the supervision of occupational therapists, the OTA’s ultimate goal is to improve an individual’s quality of life by helping him or her live as independently and safely as possible. As an OTA, you may be asked to:
Occupational therapy assistants work for physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, elder care facilities, home healthcare services, school systems, early intervention programs for infants and toddlers, pediatric units, mental health centers, and government agencies. Students today can look forward to dynamic careers working in multiple settings with individuals of all ages (AOTA, 2010).
Many OTAs advance into administration positions. They may manage a large occupational therapy department in a hospital or act as the director for a specific department such as a hand clinic or dementia unit in a nursing home. Some assistants go on to teach classes in accredited occupational therapy assistant academic programs or lead health risk reduction classes for the elderly. Other occupational therapy assistants work in research.
Successful occupational therapists know how to encourage individuals through what can sometimes be a slow and frustrating process. Interventions are client-centered and unique to each individual. Occupational therapy assistants use “occupations” that have meaning and value for the client to help improve health, well-being, and quality of life.
The information below reflects aggregated data from all of the Herzing University campuses that have students enrolled in the specified program in the specified time period. The information does not reflect data regarding individual campuses unless only one campus had students in this cohort. The reporting period used to obtain this data is 7/1/2011-6/30/2012. The term "cohort" refers to the group of students with data in this specified reporting period. "No Information Available" when referring to the "Number of Graduates" means that no students graduated from the specified program within the specified reporting period. If there were less than 10 graduates in a program, on-time completion data was not disclosed for that program and these areas are noted with "No Information Available". For a more detailed description of how the data was calculated please refer to the Disclosure Methodology located here http://www.herzing.edu/files/2013Disclosures-Methodology.pdf  .
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The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certifies occupational therapy assistants through a national certifying exam. Those who pass the exam are awarded the title Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Once certified, the COTA can apply for a state license in the state he or she chooses to practice in. Not all states require an additional license and requirements vary from state to state. Please check with your state health department for these requirements.
Most states, including Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, regulate the practice of occupational therapist assistants either by licensing, registration, or certification. Eligibility requirements vary by state. Contact your state’s licensing board for specific regulatory requirements of occupational therapy assistants. In Minnesota, the applicant MUST have graduated from an accredited OTA program and passed the NBCOT exam. A fee and background check are also required. For more information go to http://www.health.state.mn.us .
Some states have additional requirements for occupational therapy assistants who work in schools or early intervention programs. These requirements may include education-related classes, an education practice certificate, or early intervention certification.