Occupational Therapy Assistant Guide

Welcome to the OTA Guide, the complete occupational therapy assistant resource. Here you will find all the info you need to complete your occupational therapy education and get licensed as an OTA in your state. Get started with our free state by state OTA resources on: OTA Schools, OTA Licensing,OTA salary data.
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Accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant Schools

Research and compare every ACOTE accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant School in the United States. Simply click on your state for a list of occupational therapy assistant schools offered in the region and more details as well as program director contact information for every program.

ACOTE Accredited COTA Schools With over 200 Accredited Occupational Therapist Assistant schools across the United States, finding the right one can be daunting. Selecting the right COTA program for your needs will be critical to your success in the program. Although the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) doesn’t offer a ranking system of the COTA schools that they accredit, a high quality education is guaranteed by the ACOTE accreditation itself.

Graduating from an accredited OTA program is required in order to sit for the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) Exam put on by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Passing this nationwide exam will be necessary in order to obtain your state OTA license for employment.

For more information on obtaining a state OTA license in your state, see our OTA License Requirement Checklists & Applications by state.

Basic Occupational Therapy Assistant Courses from any COTA School

Here is a list of the basic OTA courses that all occupational therapist assistant programs will require in their curriculum. Most of these classes are available to take online from a number of accredited online OTA programs.

  • Introduction to Occupational Therapy Course – This is an overview to Occupational Therapy. You will learn the history of the profession, OT Ethics, and more about the responsibilities and careers of those working in occupational therapy.
  • Health Care Provider Basics Course – You will learn the basics of legally serving as a health care provider such as HIPPA regulations. You will also learn the basic skills and abilities you will need to function as well as medical terminology used in the field of OT.
  • Physical Disabilities Course – You will learn about the various types of physical disabilities that you will be required to know to work with patients.
    Therapeutic Activities Course – You will be introduced to and learn the various OT techniques that you will use to offer assistance to patients. You will also, in addition to movement methods, learn crafting for creating therapy tools for patients.
  • Kinesiology Course – This course teaches students how to assess movement. You will learn physiology and anatomy along with physics and biomechanics. Muscle test, range of motion principles, and more will be taught in this corse to provide a clear understanding of how to apply these concepts to working with patients.

Top 10 COTA Programs in the U.S.

School Name
Unique Offering
Houston Community CollegeExceptional and unique learning opportunities through high quality practicums and clinical experiences.Houston, TX
Santa Ana CollegeOnline, weekend, and evening OTA class offerings.Santa Ana, CA
Austin Community College10 full service campuses and free tutoring and student support services.Austin, TX
Macomb Community CollegeThe MCC OTA Program has a 90% graduation rate.Warren, MI
Owens Community CollegeEach faculty member has real world experience in the field of Occupational Therapy.Perrysburg, OH
Sacramento City CollegeIn 2012, 91% of OTA students passed the COTA Exam by the NBCOT on their 1st attempt.Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake Community CollegeHealth Sciences Foundation Scholarship offered to OTA students.Salt Lake City, UT
Suffolk County Community CollegeLargest Community College in New York State.Selden, NY
Tidewater Community CollegeAverage 1st time pass rate for NBCOT COTA Exam is 87%.Norfolk, VA
Wayne County Community College DistrictSchool features a scholarship committee funding merit based scholarships and providing textbook assistance.Detroit, MI

Comparing Occupational Therapy Assistant Schools

As previously mentioned, the ACOTE is the accrediting organization for all Occupational Therapy Assistant schools. It is critical that you attend and graduate from an accredited OTA program as this will be required to sit for the NBCOT’s COTA Exam which is required for your state OTA license to gain employment.

The first step you should take towards your education is to research occupational therapy assistant programs in your region. Once you have a list of OTA schools that you are interested in, you can start comparing specific features of each, talking to alumni and faculty, and scheduling campus visits.

Comparison Factors for OTA Schools

Below are a list of things you will want to consider in each school to make sure it will meet your educational needs/goals:

  • Size of campus, student body, and OTA program
  • Passing rates of the college, OTA program, and NBCOT COTA Exam
  • Level of quality of the campus and all resources including faculty
  • Structure of curriculum and program
  • Opportunities for financial aid as well as complete list of expenses
  • Campus setting and location
  • Quality of the faculty (prior experience, cohesiveness, tenure)

Talk to admissions officers, professors, program directors, alumni, current students, and employers to get the best insight into each OTA school that you are considering. Ask faculty which local companies hire their graduates so that you can reach out to speak with employers and alumni who have experience with each OTA program you’re looking into.

Now that you know everything about occupational therapy assistant colleges in the U.S. you don’t have any excuses about getting your occupational therapy associates degree 😉

Footnote: We keep our database of ACOTE Accredited OTA Schools up to date with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). When new accreditations are added for schools that offer occupational therapy we will update our data, if you notice a necessary update please let us know.

1) Click on any schools below to learn more about their programs
2) Under “Program of Interest” choose “Occupational Therapy Assistant” or another degree of interest