Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Curriculum
At Herzing University near Minneapolis, Minnesota, 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.
Upon completing the program you’ll be ready to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam and become a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA).
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Required Support Course
9.00 semester credit hour is required.
Required Occupational Therapy Assistant Core Courses
All courses, 42.00 semester credit hours, are required.
General Education Prerequisite
The following general education prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C (70%) or better for a student to be continued in the OTA program: Anatomy and Physiology I and Anatomy and Physiology I Lab Anatomy and Physiology II and Anatomy and Physiology II Lab All other general education courses must be passed with a grade of D (60%) or better to be continued in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. A student who is dropped from the OTA program for failing to achieve the minimum grade specified in the general education courses, but who otherwise meets the academic standards of the University, may transfer to another Herzing degree program and/or may reapply to this program in a future cycle.
Required Courses in General Education
Students enrolled in this associate degree must complete a minimum of 18.00 semester credit hours in general education (◊includes 6.0 credit hours from Anatomy and Physiology listed in above required) distributed among the following disciplines. Refer to the General Education section of this catalog for Herzing University courses that would satisfy these requirements.* Note: Computer literacy is a component of the core curriculum in this program. 9.00 Semester Credit Hours in Communications 3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Humanities (must include 3 semester credit hours of cultural diversity) 3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Social or Behavioral Science 3.00 Semester Credit Hours in Mathematics ◊Science Semester Credit Hours are satisfied through Anatomy and Physiology requirement listed above. * Transfer students may transfer courses that are within 1.00 semester credit hour of the courses listed above to meet these discipline requirements. Any resulting deficiency in the total of 24.00 semester credit hours required in general education may be made up with general education electives from any of the listed disciplines.
Personal and Professional Development Courses
2.00 semester credit hours are required.
Here are the requirements to become an OTA in Minnesota:
- Know the job. Prerequisite soft skills for the job include: strong communication skills, strong interpersonal skills, creativity, flexibility, interest in the human body, sincere enthusiasm for patient care and a genuine passion for helping people improve their quality of life.
- Get your education. You will need to enroll in and complete an ACOTE-accredited OTA associate degree program. Herzing’s accredited program1 takes an average of 24 months to complete.
- Certification. In the state of Minnesota, you’ll need to get certified/licensed. After earning your degree you will need to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to earn your certification and become eligible to practice as a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA).
Herzing’s goal is to empower you to get an excellent education, become a new you and reach your career goals. We are with you every step of the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) work under the direction of an occupational therapist to help people of all ages who have a disability, condition or injury which interferes with their ability to carry out daily self-care, school or work tasks.
Choose an OTA program if you love to work with patients of all ages, can solve problems creatively, and enjoy helping people regain their independence and build confidence.
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the direction of a physical therapist to help people return to daily activity which may encompass movement related recreational pursuits, work, or sports. PTAs also offer patients injury prevention strategies related to fitness and movement.
Choose a PTA program if you are comfortable with physical contact, have the strength to support a patient’s full bodyweight if needed, and can be a strong motivator for patients completing challenging or uncomfortable exercises.
Get more detail about the biggest differences between PTA vs. OTA.
Occupational therapy assistants help patients and individuals develop, recover, improve and maintain everyday skills needed for work and life. This may include working in pediatrics helping children with disabilities participate fully in school, helping people who have been injured regain skills, and providing support to older adults who experience physical or cognitive changes.
Occupational therapy plays an important role in treating people with various illnesses and disabilities to help them gain greater independence.
OTAs duties also differ from certified nurse assistants (CNA). CNAs focus more on providing personal care for patients, such as bathing and dressing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects there to be a big increase in the demand for occupational therapist assistants. The BLS estimates a 36% increase in employment from 2020-2030, well beyond the national average.*
The BLS cites the growth in the elderly population and health needs of the baby-boom generation in coming years as a primary reason for greater need for OTAs in the near future.
No, there are no accredited occupational therapist assistant programs you can complete 100% online.
However, Herzing University does offer an online component of the program. You may complete your required general education courses online. However, much of the core coursework must be completed on campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota and your fieldwork will be completed under the supervision of an experienced OTR or COTA at a chosen clinical site nearby.
There is no replacement for career-focused, practical experience with experienced instructors and occupational therapy practitioners who show you how to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to the real patient care experience. Our goal is to empower you to succeed in your new career, and the hands-on training is crucial to help you get there!
OTAs may work in health care settings such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers or nursing homes. They may also work in occupational therapists' offices, schools or in patients' home settings. No matter the company they work for, OTAs always work under the direction of professional occupational therapists.
Here are the five most common working environments for OTAs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Offices of health practitioners
- Nursing care facilities
- Home health care services
- Elementary and secondary schools
The Herzing OTA associate degree program takes an average of 24 months to complete.
That means depending on when you start and how quickly you earn your certification (passing the NBCOT exam), you may be able to become a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) in 2 years.
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.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field, you will still need to take core OTA coursework and complete your associate degree in occupational therapist assistant before being able to get licensed and practice.
You may be able to transfer credit from prior coursework to reduce the time needed to complete the program.
According to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapist assistants make an average salary of $63,420 per year ($30.49 per hour).*
The BLS reports an average OTA salary of $53,280 per year ($25.62 per hour) in the state of Minnesota.
Average salaries do not typically reflect entry level pay. As you gain experience and get better at what you do your earning potential will increase. Compare the average OTA salary in Minnesota to other related professions and get an idea of what you might expect down several different career paths in healthcare.
Accreditations & Disclosures
1. The Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929, 301-652-AOTA, www.acoteonline.org).
The total number of graduates from the Herzing University - Minneapolis Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant (ASSOTA) program during the 3-year period of 2017-2019 was 50 with an overall graduation rate of 75%.
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i. (Graduation rate is based upon students who graduated within 150% of their original cohort start date. Example, for the year 2017, 23 students graduated divided by 28 students originally enrolled in the cohort representing a 80% 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
Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification exam. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.
Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org), an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.