Online occupational therapy assistant programs allow you to earn an accredited degree with the flexibility of distance learning. In online OTA programs, you can use email, chat, and learning management systems such as Blackboard to collaborate with professors and peers. You can also submit assignments, ask questions, share notes, and take exams all from the comfort of home or a coffee shop.
Because occupational therapy involves patients, earning your OTA degree online also means hands-on training. OTA students need to learn how to use specific tools and apply therapy techniques while at a campus or an approved healthcare facility. But how does that all work? What do you, as a student, need to keep in mind when searching for OTA programs with key online elements and the best hands-on training support? Read on to see inside online occupational therapy assistant programs and learn what it takes to get started.
Best Online OTA Programs in 2023
If you want to become an occupational therapy assistant, online OTA programs can give you the knowledge and skills you need to earn professional certification in your state. But which schools offer convenient scheduling and the right curriculum at a price you can afford? EduMed.org has created its Best in Class initiative to answer that question. We evaluated schools from across the country on several key factors, including accreditation status, cost of attendance, number of online OTA programs, academic counseling, and career placement. Keep reading to see 2023’s top occupational therapy assistant programs online.
|#||School Name||Type||Cost||Online Programs||More Details||School Information||Online Students||Academic Counseling||Career Placement||Students w/Institutional Aid||Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry||Accreditation|
|1||Casper CollegeCasper, WY||Public||$||1||
Casper College offers a certification in occupational therapy which gives students the foundational knowledge necessary to become an occupational therapy assistant. During the program, students take coursework to help with a variety of occupational therapy issues such as learning disabilities and motor skills. Some of the classes also discuss how to operate occupational therapy equipment. The program offers flexible deliveries with in-person, hybrid, and online classes available. It’s important to keep in mind that not all classes can be completed online. Students will have to go to campus for certain courses. When classes are online, they are synchronous and require class participation.
Associates of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistance
|2||Bristol Community CollegeFall River, MA||Public||$||1||
Students looking for an equitable and rigorous occupational therapy assistant program should check out Bristol Community College. The college hosts a program which prepares students to work as generalists in occupational therapy settings. The curriculum overall provides a broad overview of the field as well as hands-on experiences to apply coursework to a real-life setting. While didactic courses are offered online, field work and labs must be completed in-person and on-campus. Online classes meet synchronously multiple times a week and require large and small group discussions. If students select the online program, they will only have to go to campus 1-2 days a week.
Associates of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistance
What to Look for in an Online OTA Program
Every student searches for an online OTA program with a different idea of what path they want to follow. However, there are some characteristics that all students should be concerned about as they look for schools. The following are some of the most important things students should look for in an online occupational therapy assistant program.
Levels of Online Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs
Generally, prospective occupational therapy assistants can begin their career after two years of training in an associate degree program. However, those who want to advance in their careers can get additional training to land higher-level positions. The following are the different types of online occupational therapy assistant programs that schools offer.
Understanding the “Online” in Online OTA Programs
Occupational therapy assistant students generally are concerned about the format of the program they choose, particularly if they are holding down a full-time job as they work on their degree. Online occupational therapy assistant programs can help to alleviate some of students’ concerns about how they are going to fit their education into their lifestyle, however, they should keep in mind that these programs do require that they go on campus for instruction periodically. The following outlines how mostly online programs and programs with an online component work.
Critical Knowledge & Skills
Those who are interested in pursuing OTA degrees may be reluctant to enroll in an online OTA program because they may be concerned they won’t get all of the training they need to obtain their license and land a job after graduation. However, some critical knowledge and skills can actually be learned online, while other areas require that students participate in campus work. The following are examples of the skills that students can actually obtain by doing online work.
While students can get many important skills through their online coursework, some skills occupational therapy assistants need can only come through hands-on training. The following are examples of some of those skills.
What Does Online Occupational Therapy Assistant School Cost?
Depending on the school, students may be able to save money by enrolling in an online occupational therapy assistant program. However, even with these savings, they still will be concerned about how to pay for their education, and whether or not there is financial aid available to them. This section provides a breakdown of how much students can expect to pay for their degrees, as well as what types of financial aid they can receive.
OTA Cost and Fee Breakdown
The cost for education can add up when fees are added to tuition charges. The following is a breakdown of the expenses students should keep their eye on.
How to Pay for Your OTA Program
There are several resources that students can use to help them pay for their education, and this funding can come from a variety of sources. The following is an overview of some of the ways people can pay for their OTA degree program.
Learn more about financial aid options, how to apply for the FAFSA, and more ways to make college more affordable by reading EduMed’s guide to financial aid.
From OTA to COTA: Certification & Licensing
All states require that occupational therapy assistants receive a license in order to legally work in their state. However, state requirements can vary, so it’s important for students to find out what is expected of them. In some cases, graduates can receive a temporary license, which allows them to work on a limited basis, until they have received the results of the licensing test. To find out how to contact their state board, students can visit the American Occupational Therapy Association.
- Certifying Exam
The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam, or NBCOT, is the test that OTAs are required to take in order to receive their state license. This test, which takes four hours to complete, is made up of 170 multiple choice questions and three clinical simulations. The test covers skills such as clinical decision making, patient monitoring, treatment plan creation, and first aid. In order to qualify to take the NBCOT, people must complete a degree program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.
- Specializing as an OTA
Professionals who want to concentrate their work on a certain area may choose to earn a special certification. This allows them to pursue a subsection of the field that interests them, as well as demonstrate their expertise to employers so they can stand out when looking for a job or seeking advancement at their current workplace. The following are the special certifications OTAs can receive.
- Assistive Technology Professional (ATP)
- Seating and Mobility Specialist (SMS)
- Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)
- Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP)
- Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS)
Career Growth & Salary Potential for OTAs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapy assistants make a median salary of $60,220 per year. The top earners in the field make $80,980 annually, while the lowest 10 percent of earners are earning $39,620.
In addition, OTAs can expect to see a healthy amount of job growth in the coming years. The agency reports that between 2016 and 2026, there will be a 29 percent increase in jobs—more than the national average for all professions—which amounts to 11,400 positions that will be created during this ten-year period. The primary factor driving this growth is the boom of the elderly population, and the increased likelihood that they will develop health problems like arthritis as they age.