Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
Certified occupational therapy assistants (COTA) help people from all walks of life perform activities that are meaningful to them. When you join TheraEx Staffing as a COTA, you’ll work with a dedicated recruiter whose primary interest is helping you achieve your personal and professional goals.
If traveling is something that appeals to you, we have a great deal of traveling COTA opportunities that offer highly competitive compensation and excellent benefits. If you prefer a per diem, temporary or permanent opportunity near home, we have flexible positions that allow you to work in your area and on your terms.
What Does a Certified Occupational Therapist (COTA) Do?
Certified occupational therapists (COTA) spend their days working alongside occupational therapists (OTs) providing treatment and assistance to individuals with disabilities. COTA is one of the fastest-growing careers in healthcare, with employment opportunities expected to grow nearly 35% within the next 10 years.
COTA Career Opportunities
One of the greatest benefits of being a COTA is that you have a wide range of specializations and practice areas to choose from. The following are some of the most common career paths for COTAs. But keep in mind that there are many other fields in which a COTA can excel.
Schools and School Districts
Students with disabilities rely on OTs and COTAs to overcome physical, mental, or developmental challenges. School COTAs improve the well-being and independence of children by teaching them a variety of sensory, self-care, work, and cognitive skills.
Additionally, they work with other providers, such as teachers, social workers, and case managers, to develop modified educational plans that allow students with disabilities to thrive.
Home Health Care
Home health care refers to a variety of healthcare services that can be provided at a patient’s home in case of illness or injury. Home health COTAs assist occupational therapists in conducting tests to assess a person’s health and wellness, developing treatment plans to help the patient become more independent in their daily activities, and assisting with rehabilitative efforts according to the plan of care.
Hospitals and Outpatient Rehabilitation Programs
Certified occupational therapy assistants can work in hospital or outpatient rehabilitation providing treatment to patients with injury, illness, or disability according to the goals developed by the OT. Working in a hospital or rehabilitation center is a great option for COTAs looking for stability and regular business hours.
Both OTs and COTAs are incredibly valuable assets for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities for improving patients’ independence and quality of life. Nursing home COTAs implement and execute rehabilitative activities based on treatment plans established by supervising OTs.
Companies big and small hire OTs and COTAs to come up with innovative solutions to improve the working environment and adapt it to the needs, requirements, and limitations of employees. Examples of ergonomic workplace modifications include:
- Appropriate chairs
- Improved lightning
- Posture workshops
- Keyboard and mouse position
COTAs work in mental health settings to help children and adults with developmental disabilities gain independence through self-care activities.
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary and Benefits
COTAs are currently in demand and the compensation tends to be high, especially because COTA is one of the fastest tracks you can take into the medical field, requiring only a couple of years of schooling before you can get certified and find a nice paying job.
According to US News, certified occupational therapy assistants made a median salary of about $63,000 in 2020. The best-paid 25% made nearly $75,000, while the lowest-paid 25% made $53,000.
As a TheraEx COTA, you can also enjoy several exceptional benefits, including:
- Full medical, dental, and vision insurance
- Dental and vision benefits
- 401K plan
- Seasonal lucrative incentive programs*
- Up to 6 paid Holidays**
- Flexible spending account (FSA)
- 3 paid sick days in a year
* For travel positions only
** For full-time positions /eligible employees only
How to Become a COTA
Occupational therapy is a rewarding career with good employee satisfaction. You can become a certified occupational assistant in as little as 16 months and many programs allow you to choose between in-person, online, and hybrid modalities. Here’s how to become a COTA in the United States:
- Find the right program for you: consider what you want to get out of your COTA program: do you intend to work while studying? Are you looking to gain hands-on experience as early as possible, or do you prefer the convenience and flexibility of online classes? Asking yourself these questions will help you find a program that fits your needs. It’s also important to make sure that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.
- Fulfill any prerequisites and apply for an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program: you may need to take some prerequisite courses before beginning your OTA program. An admissions counselor at your school of choice can help you determine whether you need to take additional classes.
- Complete the program: some OTA programs can be completed in as few as 5 semesters. Some programs will also require you to fulfill a determined amount of fieldwork hours.
- Take the NBCOT exam: aspiring occupational therapy assistants must pass the National Board For Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam after completing the necessary coursework.
Apply for your COTA license: once you’ve graduated from an accredited OTA program, completed fieldwork requirements, and passed the NBCOT exam, you’ll have to apply for a COTA license in your home state or any state you wish to practice.