What are COTA Programs & Why Are They Important?

If you are considering a healthcare career, specifically one in occupational therapy, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the acronym “COTA” before. COTA is an easy way to say, “Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant,” which is one of the most essential and in-demand medical careers today.

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants spend their day-to-day caring for and working with clients who are physically limited by impeding factors in their lives: illness, injury, old age, developmental disabilities, or even emotional disorders. A COTA’s goal is to get these clients back up on their feet and regain independence in their lives. They use a variety of functional activities and therapeutic exercises to restore patients’ basic life skills – eating, drinking, brushing teeth, getting dressed, walking, and more.

The importance of a COTAs in today’s healthcare system is undeniable. Currently in the United States, about one in six children have a developmental disability such as autism or cerebral palsy. About 22 percent of adults in America suffer from arthritis, a debilitating physical condition that can make even everyday activities feel impossible. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. These are just some of the many people who might rely on COTAs to regain their function in daily living.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants is projected to rise 29 percent from 2016 to 2026, over four times faster than the national average for all occupations. If you are looking to pursue a thriving and rewarding career, occupational therapy may be the perfect fit for you. There are just certain, educational steps you’ll need to take to get there—the first being to enroll in an associate degree level COTA program.

Occupational therapy assistants need an associate’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant or COTA program, according to industry experts. Most states, including Connecticut, require graduates to then pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. Successful completion of this exam allows graduates to go from OTAs to COTAs, or Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants.

Not only is a college-level COTA program required of aspiring Occupational Therapy Assistants, it is also essential to passing your NBCOT exam and to your longer-term success. This is because of the level of knowledge and experience gained in an accredited COTA program. At Goodwin College, for example, we promote hands-on experiences for students throughout our OTA school, training them in the activities of daily living, the fabrication of splints, and the therapeutic use of functional activities. Students also receive specialized vocational training and learn how to adapt to home, work, and school environments. In our clinical COTA program, you can also expect to learn from and practice under experienced Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants in a variety of healthcare settings.

If you are in the state of Connecticut, there are many benefits to attending the COTA program at Goodwin College. All our occupational therapy assistant classes are offered in the evenings and on weekends in a cohort model. This enables you to earn your degree while working full- or part-time. With three academic sessions each year, you can earn your associate degree in 16 months full-time. That means faster degree completion and a faster path to the workforce.

Becoming a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant is not only a fast move, but also a great a move for your healthcare career. According to a 2017 U.S. News report, Occupational Therapy Assisting was ranked the #1 Best Health Care Support Job in the United States. COTAs often report low-stress work environments, a manageable work-life balance, as well as much room for future job growth. Not to mention, the job of a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant is always changing—it offers flexible and exciting work with new cases and connections being introduced every day. No two days look the same for a COTA, but every day is just as meaningful as the next.

If you are looking for a short-term path towards a successful, long-term healthcare career—if you hope to make a difference in other people’s lives—Occupational Therapy Assisting is the path for you. Learn about Goodwin’s COTA program in Connecticut by calling 800-889-3282 or by clicking here.