Occupational Therapy Assistant - Learn More

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Associate of Applied Science

Credits Required for Graduation: 70.00

Learn More About This Program

Occupational Therapy is a health care service that uses activities that are personally fulfilling to help people to learn skills they need in order to live as independently as possible. This may include direct intervention, providing consultation to family members, providing adaptive equipment or working with employers. Occupational Therapy Assistants provide services independently, in collaboration with other members of the health care team or with the supervision of a therapist. An Occupational Therapy Assistant may work with a wide variety of individuals of various ages and disabilities or specialize in a particular area such as pediatrics, hand function, geriatrics, and assistive technology. Graduates may also work as activity directors in long-term care facilities, adult day care centers and senior centers.

If you are motivated, dedicated, creative and a hard worker, then you have what it takes to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant. An Occupational Therapy Assistant needs a strong background in the biological sciences, behavioral sciences, and math. An appreciation for art, an enjoyment of arts and crafts, and creativity provide a good base for an Occupational Therapy Assistant. An Occupational Therapy Assistant is expected to be able to handle stressful situations, problem solve, communicate clearly, and make multiple decisions in regards to care and intervention.

It also takes dedication to assist individuals and work with other health care providers as a team to provide optimal Intervention. Occupational Therapy Assistants generally work during the day time hours but may be required to work evenings and weekends, depending on the needs of the facility and recipients of service.

Important Forms

National Certification Exam

Graduates from our program are eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam upon graduation. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT exam.

For the three most recent calendar years (2012-14)*, the performance of the graduates of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination was as follows:

Total number of program graduates 43
Program graduation rate 72%
Total number of first-time test-takers of the NBCOT certification exam 41
Total number first-time test-takers who passed the NBCOT certification exam 39
First-time test-taker percentage pass rate 95%
Total number second-time test-takers who passed the NBCOT certification exam 2
Total percentage pass rate of graduates taking the exam 100%

*Certification data was updated 3/2/15 per official Report Data available from NBCOT through December, 2014.

For the most current certification results published by NBCOT, go to https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

Program Chair:

Christine Krueger

Summer Contact:

Kathy Gregerson
Administrative Program Assistant


Student Occupational Therapy Association provides opportunities for students to network with each other for community activities, fundraisers for conference participation and activities/functions related to the profession.

Professional Organizations

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association (WOTA)

Web Related Links:

American Occupational Therapy Association
Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association
National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long is the Program at Western?

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Western is a spans six (6) term program. The first term of the program may consist of taking general studies courses, including General Anatomy and Physiology. In the first fall term of program specific courses, there are two (2) online and one (1) lab course to introduce concepts in OT practice. The following spring and fall, students are engaged in program specific courses on campus which focus on the development of strong base in the Occupational Therapy field and therapeutic techniques. The final spring term primarily consists of fieldwork experiences and one online course and culminates with graduation in May.

Will I be Required to Travel?

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program requires fieldwork placement. Fieldwork I and II placements may or may not be in commuting distance of the La Crosse campus. Assignments are made based on availability of site and student needs. Students will be responsible for their own transportation and housing if placed outside the commuting area. There may also be required field visits and community sites that involve travel.

How much time will I spend in at fieldwork sites?

Beginning the third (3rd) term, students will be partnered with community sites through Service Learning. During the fourth (4th) term, students will spend two (2) weeks at a hospital, clinic, nursing home, school, community center or other clinical/fieldwork site (Level I Fieldwork). Student spend the entire sixteen (16) weeks of the last term at Level II Fieldwork on a full-time basis (approx. 40 hours/week at two (2) sites) and function under the direct supervision of an Occupational Therapist (OTR) or Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).

What happens after I graduate?

After graduation, students are required to take a national certification exam given by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). This exam is provided at Prometric Test Centers located in various areas within each state. Also, state certification by the Department of Safety and Professional Services in Wisconsin is required. A student may gain employment while being eligible for national certification and state licensure, but would require a temporary license. If employment in another state is sought, the regulation for state licensure or certification should be checked. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification exam or attain a state license.

What is the job market like?

Occupational Therapy Assistant is still listed as one of the top 20 growth fields of the future. There was a decrease of students enrolled at colleges the past few years, thus a shortage of Occupational Therapy Assistants is being predicted for the near future. For most current information, check the websites of the American Occupational Therapy Association and U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Functions:

Essential functions have been identified for each program. These essential functions specify the physical, environmental, and cognitive/mental requirements that students may be expected to perform to complete the program. To obtain a detailed list of these functions, or inquire about accommodations for a documented disability, please contact Kristina Stellpflug, Instructional Support Services at 608.785.9875, or StellpflugK@westerntc.edu . Students applying for admission to a program will be mailed a copy of the program's essential functions.