Growth rate of 34% predicted for rest of decade according to Michigan Bureau of Labor
Schoolcraft College soon will offer a degree program in an intensive, very rewarding and fast-growing health care career: Occupational Therapy Assistant. The satisfaction of helping others in this high-demand and financially worthwhile career is tremendous, and the job market is projected to be very healthy, both locally and nationally.
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) assist registered occupational therapists (OTRs) in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures to help patients develop, recover, improve and maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.
Susanne Terry, MSA, OTRL*, who helped develop Schoolcraft College’s program, is enthusiastic about the career opportunities that the OTA program opens up for the successful student. “Occupational therapy assistants focus on both body and mind,” she said. “Occupational therapy assistants help people get back to participating in the activities that are most meaningful to them.
“They can choose to practice in many different settings, including schools, nursing care facilities, hospitals, home health care services, outpatient care centers, mental health facilities, and rehabilitation centers.”
There are six areas of practice for occupational therapy assistants:
- Children and youth
- Productive aging
- Health and wellness
- Mental health
- Rehabilitation and disability
- Work and industry
“I went into Occupational Therapy because every day is interesting, with a wide range of opportunities to help people. I knew I would not be bored,” Terry added. “It is gratifying to assist patients as they learn new skills and how to navigate challenges.”
High school students can begin earning credits for general education/prerequisite classes while still in high school through Dual Enrollment.
Students who pursue an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program will receive a well-rounded and rigorous education that includes lecture, laboratory, and clinical work. In addition, students will need to be able to complete the 16 weeks of 40 hours of intensive internship experiences while in classes. A cohort of 20 students will move through the professional practice courses and experiences together sequentially.
The program, which is 71-74 credits, can be completed in a little over two years by full-time students.
- Once students successfully complete the program, they are eligible to sit for the Occupational Therapy Certification Exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
- After successfully passing the NBCOT exam, the next step is to become licensed through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
High growth potential locally and nationally
According to state and national sources, the job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is very strong with growth and top health care wages.
- The Michigan Bureau of Labor estimates the growth rate is 34% from 2020-2030.
- The Michigan Bureau of Labor notes that the 2019 median hourly wage for all health care support is $20.01. OTA is at the top with a median hourly wage for healthcare support at $26.21.
- OTA 2020 median pay: $60,950 per year/$29.30 per hour
“Schoolcraft College will be one of the few community colleges in the immediate area to offer an Occupational Therapy Assistant program.” Terry said. “The OTA program is very challenging and fulfilling. It is a phenomenal investment, potentially yielding a high-paying career in a growing field.”
You can learn more about the OTA program on its academic web page. You also can contact the Admissions and Welcome Center at 734-462-4426 or [email protected] or the Advising Department at 734-462-4429 (option 4) or [email protected] to complete the application.
*OTRL stands for Occupational Therapist, Registered, Licensed