Occupational Therapy Assistant


Ranked #1 Best Health Care Support Job for 2018 according to U.S. News & World Report

Helping others gain their independence can be a wonderful career.

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 to earn an occupational therapy assistant associate's degree, you can make a difference! You will be able to help 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.

Herzing's Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Program could be right for you if you:

  • Enjoy helping people
  • Are interested in the human body and how it functions
  • Have strong communication skills
  • Have strong interpersonal skills
  • Are a good problem solver
  • Enjoy working with others
  • Are creative and flexible


The occupational therapy assistant program is accredited 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. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301-652-AOTA. www.acoteonline.org 

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

Classes start September 5.
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As baby boomers age, demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow. Occupational therapists are expected to employ more assistants to reduce the cost of their services. Once a patient is evaluated and the therapist designs a treatment plan, the OTA can provide many aspects of treatment.

Improved technology is another reason for the higher demand for OTAs. Chronic illnesses that once caused death have better prognosis and treatments. Today we can detect problems in infants and children much earlier and provide early intervention.

Occupational therapy assistants can work with adults who have suffered traumas such as strokes and spinal cord injuries as well as children with disabilities such as Down Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, and autism. 

As an OTA, you may be asked to:

  • Train individuals in the use of rehab devices, adaptive equipment, wheelchair mobility, orthotics, prosthetics, or adaptive driving
  • Train individuals or caregivers in daily living skills such as eating, dressing, safety, and home management skills
  • Help individuals develop sensory, neuromuscular, cognitive, and motor skills
  • Design and fabricate splints
  • Modify the environment, apply ergonomic principles, and be involved in care coordination and case management
  • Promote education, work, leisure activities, and exercise
  • Monitor and record patient progress
  • Schedule appointments and assist in billing

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, 2015).

A vibrant and growing profession with multiple opportunities for advancement.

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. 

A rewarding career if you have patience as well as persistence.

Successful occupational therapy assistants 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


Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Program Curriculum

Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant7124
*Average number of months for students to complete program

Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant

At Herzing University, the associate of applied science degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant combines academic and theoretical knowledge with hands-on field work. Students learn the principles of occupational therapy as well as the basics in medical terminology, kinesiology, pediatrics, geriatrics, and assistive technology.   View Program Course Sheet

See the NBCOT pass rate.


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.

Angela: Paying It Forward thru Herzing's OTA Degree

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The occupational therapy assistant degree program is accredited 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. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301-652-AOTA. www.acoteonline.org 

The total number of graduates from the Minneapolis, Minnesota Campus of Herzing University Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant (ASSOTA) program during the 3-year period of 2012-2014 was 30 with an overall graduation rate of 81%.

Graduation YearStudent Entering GraduatesGraduation Rate*


*(Graduation rate is based upon students who graduated within 150% of their original cohort start date. Example, for the year 2014, 12 students graduated divided by 17 students originally enrolled in the cohort representing a 71% graduation rate for this cohort.)

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

View Herzing University Accreditation and Approvals