There are many important aspects of an occupation beyond how much it pays, but isn’t that one of the first things about a career you want to know? So, here’s some straight talk: The compensation for becoming an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is high. In fact, the OTA salary may only be the third-best reason to choose this particular healthcare career.
Occupational Therapy is a People-first Career
An occupational therapy career is a people-first career, and especially so for occupational therapy assistants (OTAs). Their primary job is to carry out each client’s therapy plan. Therapy plans are highly tailored because clients may have developmental, emotional, physical, or cognitive challenges.
These challenges present real-life difficulties in doing the tasks and routines of daily living that most of us take for granted. Think about what it’s like to face:
An OTA assists clients by focusing on ways to adapt environments and tasks to fit someone’s abilities and. It’s the kind of career where you get to see the results of your efforts nearly every day. The OTA salary recognizes the impact OTAs can have on improving the quality of life for clients.
3 Benefits to an OTA Career
1. OTA is an in-demand occupation
During the last few decades, occupational therapy principles and strategies have helped make healthcare more efficient and affordable. Research is continually validating the use of occupational therapy in a multitude of scenarios.
For example, research is showing that an early introduction to occupational therapy can increase the likelihood of a child’s success in life.
Another point of emphasis for OTAs is in the hospital environment. A 2016 study shows higher hospital spending on occupational therapy as the only spending category where additional expenditures led to lower readmission rates for patients recovering from heart failure, heart attacks, and pneumonia. The study noted that “occupational therapy places a unique and immediate focus on patients’ functional and social needs.”
2. Ready-made career flexibility
Experts also attribute the attractive OTA salary to a wide variety of places that are employing occupational therapy practitioners.
OTAs work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, physician offices, assisted living facilities, and in the home. You may also find OTAs in offices of speech pathologists and audiologists for communication impairments, and in halfway houses, where they might teach a class in following a budget or leading a discussion about interviewing for a job.
3. OTA Salary
Occupational therapy assistants have higher average salaries than other healthcare support roles, such as Certified Nursing Assistants or Certified Medical Assistants, according to reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Payscale.com.
The median salary for those working as an occupational therapy assistant is $58,510. For experienced OTAs in states where the demand is high, an OTA salary can reach $70,000 or more.
Not everyone is a good fit for the OTA salary – working one-on-one with people from all walks of life takes someone who loves to be part coach, part teacher, and has a full-time talent for encouragement and creativity.
Those who fit this description, though, will earn an OTA salary that puts the OTA job well above many other healthcare support jobs. The career site owlguru.com gives OTA its “A” rating, because of the high salary and it delivers a high degree of job satisfaction.
Most occupational therapy assistants get their degree in just two years – an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
OTA Degree: 2-Year Healthcare Program at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC offers a two-year applied science degree: the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
The CUKC program prepares students for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Certification Examination to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Employers love to see COTA certification because this designation tells employers you’re ready to make a difference in the lives of their clients.
Together with classes and hands-on opportunities, our OTA program helps ensure career confidence through supervised multiple-month fieldwork experiences. (Learn more about the in-school OTA fieldwork here.)
Learn more about OTA salary ranges and other career benefits by getting this free ebook today: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.