Q: How long is the program?
A: It takes two full years or six semesters to complete the OTA courses after pre-requisites are complete. Students may need extra time to complete general education courses in addition to OTA courses. The courses must be taken in sequence.
Q: Are there weekend or evening classes?
A: Generally all classes are during the day. There are no evening classes.
Q: May I pursue additional education in occupational therapy beyond the associate degree?
A: A bachelors degree in occupational therapy is no longer recognized by the Occupational Therapy profession or offered by colleges and universities. Graduates of OTA associate degree programs who want to pursue further education in occupational therapy may seek admission into a masters program after completion of a bachelors degree in a related field.
Q: Should I be a (COTA) a graduate of a two year program or an (OTR) a graduate of a masters program?
A: People who choose to be COTAs like most working directly with clients and working in partnership with a supervising therapist. People who choose to be OTRs like working with people but enjoy also attending meetings, developing programs, making administrative decisions and conducting research. People who already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field may earn a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.
Q: Can I still work while I’m in the program?
A: If you need to work as much as possible, you could take related courses for one year while completing all the necessary paperwork for application to the program. If you are then accepted into the program the courseload for the first two semesters will be lighter to allow you to continue working. It is difficult for students to work once enrolled in the third semester of the OTA program because of the heavy courseload and full-time fieldwork.
Q: How hard are the courses?
A: All students find the OTA program challenging, even “A” students. The program has an excellent reputation in the OT community for the high quality of clinicians it graduates. Standards are high and course work is varied and demanding.
Q: Where will I do my fieldwork?
A: Students are assigned to fieldwork in five different locations across North Carolina and South Carolina. There are three one-week-long fieldwork experiences focusing on a variety of practice areas. Also students participate in eight-week-long fieldwork placements in two different locations. Most fieldwork placements are outside of Greenville. Students should financially plan for 19 weeks of out-of-town living expenses. We try to match students to locations where they have family or friends to live with, but there are limited placement options and decisions are based primarily upon their educational value.
Q: What do I need to be successful?
A: Occupational therapists must be bright, caring, responsible, flexible, and able to work independently. They must be skilled in speaking in front of groups, in communicating clearly, and in writing concisely and correctly.
Q: Are you required to take a certification exam after you complete the program?
A: Once students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program have completed all of their course work, they are required to take a national certification exam, which has been developed by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT).
Q: What kind of salary could I expect after graduation? How much demand is there for OTAs?
A: Beginning salary ranges from $36,000 to $54,140. There is a shortage of OTAs. OTA job opportunities are expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2022. Employers seeking to reduce health costs are expected to hire more COTAs (Associate degree) than OTRs (Masters degree).