How Do You Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant – Did you know that Dallas Community Colleges offer an Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree in Applied Science? is true! Now you can learn to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) without leaving Dallas. Do you enjoy working with people and want to be part of a growing medical field? If so, keep reading and learn how to get started at Mountain View College.
Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to help patients improve and restore activities of daily living such as dressing, driving, and working. They also help patients develop and maintain skills. As a professional medical assistant, you are directly involved in providing treatment and care to patients.
How Do You Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant
There are many career opportunities as a medical assistant depending on which age group you want to work with.
How A Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Can Help
Graduates of the OTA program can register to take the National Board of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification exam. Once you’ve passed your associate’s degree, field experience, and NBCOT exam, you can apply for a state license.
The primary function of a medical assistant is to help patients recover and develop skills needed for daily living and work. But that’s not all – as an OTA you can also:
Are you wondering if you have the skills to become a medical assistant? Check out some of the skills you can improve your list or work on.
You bet! Employment of occupational therapists is expected to grow by 29% from 2016-2026. The demand for occupational health aides will grow over the next decade due to the health needs of the aging population. One of the most common questions I see in Occupational Therapy Facebook groups and OT forums is along the lines of:
How To Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant In 8 Steps
“Should I invest all the time and money to go to graduate school to become an OTR or am I a COTA?”
Seeing this over and over again, I wanted to collect common answers and things to think about for those of you who have a big question on your mind.
The pros and cons in this post come from in-person discussions as well as many online discussions from COTAs evaluating future scenarios, COTAs that have transitioned to OTR, and COTAs that have decided not to become OTR.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average COTA salary is $61,730 per year. In comparison, occupational therapists (OTRs) with a master’s or doctoral degree earn an average salary of $85,570 per year (or $41.14 per hour). Therefore, OTR salaries are on average 43% higher.
How To Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant: 15 Steps
Of course, your income as a COTA or OTR may increase or decrease depending on your location, experience, and policy.
For more information on occupational therapist salaries based on real data from both OTs and COTAs, be sure to check out our article, Occupational Therapist Salaries: Data from 2,322 OTs and COTAs.
Many facilities, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, and schools, are employing few or no COTAs in some cases. In some cities, it can be more difficult to find a clinical job as a COTA, and many say this is the reason they go back to school to become an OTR.
As an OTR, you are responsible for your patient’s care plan, scheduling treatments, blood transfusions, and more. As a COTA, you are following an OTR treatment plan and may not have much of a way to develop treatment options that meet OTR goals. For the patient.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate Degree Program
This may seem like a given, but many COTAs who transfer to OTR report that they feel they have enhanced their OT experience by participating in the OT graduate program. If you are passionate about healthcare and helping patients on their medical journey, you may find that your passion for the field motivates you to pursue an OT degree.
Another popular non-clinical opportunity is teaching. Many OT schools hire OTRs with a master’s or doctorate to become teachers.
Another common example is that it is very easy to start your own medical practice as an OTR. This can be more serious as a COTA or related to occupational therapy, as you may have OTR on staff.
These are some popular non-clinical sites that can hire COTAs but, depending on the job requirements, hire an occupational therapist with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
How To Become An Occupational Therapy Assistant: A Physical Career Full Of Learning Opportunities
Note: I am now seeing many innovative COTAs starting their own non-clinical businesses that do not involve direct patient care, so non-clinical work as a COTA is still possible!
Although there are fewer disadvantages than advantages, these major disadvantages are often enough for many COTAs to choose not to return to school to become an OTR.
While OTRs have higher salaries than COTAs, the cost of obtaining a master’s or doctorate in OT is more expensive. Many COTAs who plan to work 10 to 20 more years say they will struggle to pay off debt in retirement.
Using national averages for salary and the average cost of a weekend master’s program, it will take at least 7.5 years to pay off your OTR degree, assuming all of your additional income pays for your OTR degree.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree
With this in mind, we have taken the maximum week of OTA to the OTR Master’s program, which costs $14,760 each for 6 semesters, and this program is $88,560.
Using those numbers, we found the difference between the COTA and the national average for the extra money you’ll earn. OTR is $25,750 per year (or about $18,025 after 30% taxes). The table below shows how much interest (8% per year) will be added to your balance at the beginning of the year and how much will be deducted from paying $18,205 per year.
If you put all of the extra $18,205 toward paying off your student loans, it would take at least 6.5 years to pay off the OTR degree (including 8% annual interest over that time).
Including the time spent on the school application and interview, the six semesters (2 years) in the program and the time to pay off your loans, your total time investment to complete the OT Master’s program and pay off the loans is about 10 years. .
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That said, this example shows a very fast time and may not be realistic for most people. Over the next 10 years, you will need to earn more money to pay for your living expenses and other expenses. This figure mainly shows the best case break-even point.
Some student loan terms range from 10 to 20 years. Your monthly payment will be lower than what you pay immediately, but you will actually pay more for the plan over time in interest.
Note: This is a simple example to determine the break-even point and does not represent the actual interest rate or payment schedule. While we created this chart in early 2020, interest rates may rise in 2023 and 2023.
If you’ve decided to become an OTR, you’re likely familiar with the many programs from COTA to the OTR “Bridge.” But if you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can go into a traditional master’s or doctoral occupational therapy program. The reduced cost of the bridge program and master’s or doctoral program will help in your decision.
Occupational Therapy Aide Salary (october 2023)
Weekend bridge programs are few and far between, so travel to or from the OT program location is required. Many programs require monthly visits to the school, which can be difficult for families.
Additionally, unlike traditional OTR programs, even with years of experience, getting into a bridge program can be challenging due to the sheer volume of applicants.
This is the main reason many COTAs feel that being an OTR is not for them. As an OTR, most of your time is spent each day doing paperwork. This means documenting the assessment, weekly progress and discharge with the usual medical notes.
While OTRs still administer treatments, these may not be as effective as they have multiple screenings and exits, as well as additional paperwork requirements.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Cover Letter
Finally, you have to do what suits your situation. Everyone’s situation will be different. Both jobs are big choices, and there is no right or wrong answer.
I would say that I want to be an OTR and I am happy that I chose my OTR degree. If you are interested in working in occupational therapy I would say you should take it whether it is COTA or OTR. If you’re not sure whether occupational therapy is right for you and finances are a major concern, deciding whether to become a COTA or OTR can be difficult.
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