Occupational Therapy Assistant

Train to Work as an Occupational Therapy Assistant

Do you like helping people? Does a career working in healthcare assisting patients relearn everyday skills needed for a happy life appeal to you? Then SJVC’s Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program may be what you are looking for!

Our program prepares students to work in the medical field as an occupational therapy assistant. Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. This can include helping patients use adaptive equipment or new techniques to relearn everyday skills such as getting dressed, applying makeup, emptying a dishwasher, texting and more. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients, and work under the direction of occupational therapists¹.

Interested in learning the difference between a career as an occupational therapy assistant and physical therapist assistant? Read this!

Occupational Therapy Assistant helping patient learn to use iPad

Career Outlook for Occupational Therapy Assistants

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that national employment of occupational therapy assistants is projected to grow 33 percent between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average growth rate of all occupations². The BLS states multiple factors behind the growing demand:

  • Demand for occupational therapy is likely to grow over the coming decade in response to the health needs of the aging baby-boom generation and a growing elderly population².
  • Occupational therapy will also continue to be used to treat children and young adults with developmental disabilities, such as autism².

In addition to projected employment growth, the BLS reports that the annual mean wage in the state of California for occupational therapy assistants was $67,470 in May 2018³. While this may not be a starting salary for an entry-level occupational therapy assistant, it shows that professionals in this healthcare support occupation can earn a decent wage.

About SJVC’s OTA Program

SJVC’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program is available at our Fresno campus. Students can complete the program in as few as 20 months, and graduates earn an Associate of Science degree.

Class Schedule

For our program, classes are scheduled Monday through Friday during the day. Psychosocial Occupational Therapy Fieldwork 1, Conditions of the Adult and Geriatric Population Fieldwork 1 and Occupational Therapy Assistant Fieldwork Level II A & B experiences are scheduled weekdays and weekends with varying hours. Students can expect to attend classes four days a week during Terms 1, 2 and 3. Students can expect to attend Fieldwork Level II A & B experiences for 5 days a week during Term 4.

Students gain experience in a variety of Field Work environments including:

  • Geriatric Care
  • Pediatric Care
  • Mental Health Care
  • Rehabilitation Care
  • Acute Care Hospitals, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Out-Patient Clinics

Admissions Requirements

To be considered for admission to SJVC’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program, applicants must have completed a minimum of 26 units of general education prerequisite coursework (GPA of 2.5 or higher) in the following subjects at a regionally or nationally accredited college or university:

  • General or Abnormal Psychology *
  • Introduction to Sociology or Cultural Anthropology
  • Human Anatomy with lab (within last 10 years) *
  • Human Physiology with lab (within last 10 years)*
  • Writing & Composition
  • Intermediate Algebra or higher
  • Introduction to Public Speaking or Other Communication
  • Ethics (SJVC requirement)

*Requires a 2.0 grade or higher

Applicants must also:

  • Pass the required background check
  • Pass a health/drug screen
  • Have a current CPR card for healthcare providers issued by the American Heart Association
  • Complete Immunizations/Titers required for field work assignments
  • Have reliable plans for transportation/child care
  • Have time devoted to school work outside of scheduled class hours

Application Process

The application process for the Occupational Therapy Assistant program is highly selective. The most qualified applicants meeting the prerequisites and minimum requirements will be selected using points earned from:

  • ATI TEAS test results
  • Postsecondary educational attainment (GPA scores for general education prerequisite classes)
  • Personal essay

Only applicants with the highest point totals will be considered for an interview with the selection committee. Download the Occupational Therapy Assistant program application and admissions process packet. Applications for the January 2020 start will be accepted Sept. 3 – Nov. 15, 2019.

Occupational-therapy-assistant-with-pediatric-patient

Becoming a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

The SJVC Occupational Therapy Assistant program is in progress of seeking accreditation through 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) 652-6611, and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. At its meeting on July 26-28, 2019, ACOTE considered the Candidacy Application from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at San Joaquin Valley College-Fresno Campus, Fresno, California, and voted to GRANT CANDIDACY STATUS. As a result of this action, the institution may admit students into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program according to the approved timeline (January 2020) and may proceed to the Preaccreditation Review step of the accreditation process.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination. This national certification exam for Occupational Therapy Assistants is administered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)®. Most states require licensure to practice, however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Exam. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification examination or attain state licensure.

Career Opportunities for Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational Therapy Assistants are employed in physical, occupational, audiologist and speech therapist offices, as well as hospitals, nursing care facilities, social assistance facilities, and educational services offices4. They perform the following job duties¹:

  • Help patients do therapeutic activities, such as stretches and other exercises
  • Lead children who have developmental disabilities in play activities that promote coordination and socialization
  • Encourage patients to complete activities and tasks
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment — for example, showing a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use devices that make eating easier
  • Record patients’ progress, report to occupational therapists, and do other administrative tasks

¹ https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-2

² https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-6

³ https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm#31-0000

4 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-3

Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Details

Program Course Examples

Courses* taken by our Occupational Therapy Assistant students include:

  • OTA 10: Foundations of Occupational Therapy, 3.0 credit units
  • OTA 11: Occupational Therapy Practice, 4.0 credit units
  • OTA 12: Psychosocial Occupational Therapy Practice, 3.0 credit units
  • OTA 12F: Psychosocial Occupational Therapy Field Work 1, 1.0 credit units
  • OTA 13: Applied Kinesiology, 4.0 credit units
  • OTA 20: Physical Dysfunction in Occupational Therapy Practice with Lab, 4.0 credit units
  • OTA 21: Therapeutic Media Applications, 2.0 credit units
  • OTA 22: Conditions of the Adult and Geriatric Population, 3.0 credit units
  • OTA 22F: Conditions of the Adult and Geriatric Population Field Work 1, 1.0 credit units
  • OTA 23: Adaptations and Assistive Technology in Occupational Therapy, 2.0 credit units
  • OTA 30: Conditions of Children and Youth with Lab, 4.0 credit units
  • OTA 31: Occupational Therapy Management, 3.0 credit units
  • OTA 32: Contemporary Models of Practice and Emerging Practice Areas, 2.0 credit units
  • OTA 33: Professional Seminar, 3.0 credit units
  • OTA 40F: Occupational Therapy Assistant Fieldwork Level II A, 7.0 credit units
  • OTA 41F: Occupational Therapy Assistant Fieldwork Level II B, 7.0 credit units
  • OTA 42: National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Exam Prep, 2.0 credit units
  • OTA 43: Professional Seminar 2, 0.0 credit units

*Course listings are subject to change. Reference the SJVC College Catalog for the  most current program information and to access full course information.

Accreditation and Approvals

Programmatic Accreditation

The SJVC Occupational Therapy Assistant program is in progress of seeking accreditation through 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) 652-6611, and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. At its meeting on July 26-28, 2019, ACOTE considered the Candidacy Application from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at San Joaquin Valley College-Fresno Campus, Fresno, California, and voted to GRANT CANDIDACY STATUS. As a result of this action, the institution may admit students into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program according to the approved timeline (January 2020) and may proceed to the Preaccreditation Review step of the accreditation process.

Institutional Accreditation

San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at www.accjc.org.

State Approvals

CALIFORNIA
SJVC is a private institution and is approved to operate as an accredited institution by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Approval to operate means that SJVC has been found in compliance with the standards set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Title 5, Division 7.5, – Private Postsecondary Education of the California Code of Regulations. As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review the catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement. A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling (888) 370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the Bureau’s internet website: www.bppe.ca.gov

View additional State Approvals for SJVC.