is an occupational therapy assistant program hard?

Is Occupational Therapy Assisting Hard?

A Look Inside the Career and Education of a COTA

The healthcare industry is filled with career opportunities that are fulfilling, rewarding, and challenging, not to mention offering a high level of job security.

In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow thirteen percent by 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. And this will result in an average of about 1.9 million openings yearly.

One example of these challenging and rewarding occupations is that of an occupational therapy assistant (OTA).

In today’s blog, we’ll answer many questions about becoming an occupational therapy assistant, including “Is an Occupational Therapy Assisting program hard?” and the many benefits of pursuing this career path.

What is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Occupational therapy assistants are health care professionals working under registered occupational therapists (OTs) to put the plans developed by the occupational therapist into action.

They provide care and work with patients of all ages experiencing physical or mental conditions to improve their health. Health problems and conditions can vary from bodily injury to developmental disorders and chronic illnesses.

Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop, recover, improve, and maintain the skills needed for daily living and working, such as writing or getting dressed each day through assessing conditions, monitoring progress, and coordinating therapy using a variety of remedial activities.

How Do You Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

To become an occupational therapy assistant, you must have at least an associate degree from an accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program.

Associate degree programs generally take two years for aspiring occupational therapy assistants. These programs combine at least sixteen hours of practice experience in the field with both general education courses and career-related major courses, including:

  • English Composition
  • Mathematics
  • Human Biology
  • Occupational Therapy Foundations and Fieldwork
  • Foundations of Movement and Function
  • Principles of Group Dynamics

Additionally, most states, including Connecticut, require occupational therapy assistants to be licensed, which can be earned by passing the certification exam provided by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

Candidates will then earn their Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) title and be able to practice in every state. Be sure to research to understand all requirements for the state you want to practice in.


Ready to help individuals restore their independence? Check out our Downloadable Get Started OTA Guide to learn more about our curriculum, financial aid, and more!


Is it Hard to Get Into an Occupational Therapy Assisting Program?

Any career pathway or program can be challenging at times, but it is well worth it for a hard-working individual. After all, you want to ensure you receive the education and training you need to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for this occupation.

Every program’s requirements will vary depending on the college or university. Still, candidates typically only need a high school diploma or general education development (GED) certificate to enroll in an accredited Occupational Therapy Assisting program.

For example, at Goodwin University, our program requires:

  • A completed application for admission into Goodwin University
  • A completed application for the Occupational Therapy Assistant program
  • A cumulative 2.7 GPA
  • A completed University Placement Evaluations
  • Completed video prompt questions
  • An interview with the program director and a personal essay

While challenging, through hard work, determination, and plenty of focus, students can get into the Occupational Therapy Assisting program of their choice.

Is an Occupational Therapy Assisting Program Hard?

This broad question’s answer depends on the person asking it, and finding the right answer will help them make an informed decision about their career choices.

Academia is different for everyone, so knowing your strengths, interests, and goals is essential before enrolling in any program. A student highly skilled in math and science will often see their strengths transfer well to their Occupational Therapy Assistant program.

However, that does not mean someone without skills in math and science can’t excel in these programs. They may simply have to study more frequently and diligently than some classmates.

Furthermore, many programs offer flexible scheduling options with evening and weekend classes. This maximizes student success, allowing students to complete their degrees without sacrificing their professional or personal life.

Ultimately, it is not about how difficult or easy an Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is but rather how passionate you are about this career and how much work you are willing to put into it to succeed.

Is Occupational Therapy Assisting Hard in General?

Occupational therapy assistants help clients navigate physical health programs that make everyday life difficult. It can be a physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding job. Occupational therapy assistants spend most of the day on their feet and perform physical tasks such as lifting, reaching, and transferring clients.

Furthermore, constantly dealing with other people’s problems can take a toll after a while, and you may encounter difficult situations, such as denying treatment to someone who cannot afford it, dealing with disgruntled, unmotivated clients or staff members, and even working with patients who have incurable diseases.

Yet, despite these challenges, occupational therapy assistants know they are helping people every day gain the tools and skills they need to lead successful lives. It is gratifying to know you are the reason someone can take on projects, develop hobbies, and even succeed in their careers.

There are hard days in every career, but the rewards and benefits of making a lifelong impact on patients and team members make it all worth it.

Additional Benefits of a Career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant

In addition to a fulfilling career helping others, occupational therapy assistants reap a number of benefits, such as:

  • High salary: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupational therapy assistants make a median annual salary of $61,520 per year, with the highest ten percent earning more than $80,210.
  • Job security: Overall employment is projected to grow twenty-five percent by 2031, resulting in an average of 9.300 openings yearly.
  • Work in various settings: Graduates of Occupational Therapy Assistant programs find employment in hospitals, assisted living facilities, homes, nursing homes, pediatric centers, schools, rehabilitation centers, and alternative community settings.
  • Flexibility: As an occupational therapy assistant, you have a flexible weekly schedule, especially if you work ten to twelve-hour shifts. This flexibility allows you to work, fulfill personal responsibilities, and lead an excellent quality of life.

Pursuing a degree and career as an occupational therapy assistant may be challenging, but with hard work, passion, and motivation, you will find success in this fulfilling career path.

At Goodwin University, we ensure that an associate degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant is possible with our flexible scheduling, affordability, and support services. All of which enables us to commit to supporting our students in any way possible.

Find out more information by contacting us today. Let’s crush your career goals – together!