The Pathway to Becoming an OTA

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What is the pathway to becoming an OT? There is a place in the field for anyone with passion and hard work. Learn what an OT does, what the occupational therapy career path looks like, and how an OTA degree from St. Kate’s can help you enter the OT field.

woman in scrubs sitting and talking at table

Embarking on a career as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is a fulfilling journey that enables you to positively impact the lives of others while enhancing the overall quality of patient care. But how can you enter this career field? If you want to become an OTA, the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at St. Catherine University can get you there in as few as 16 months.

This post will explore what an OTA does, the process of becoming an OTA, and some of the requirements you will encounter at each step. As you begin to see this career field take shape more clearly, we hope you will see the accessibility and viability of this professional path.

What Does an OTA Do?

Occupational Therapy Assistants play a crucial role in the healthcare system as professionals who collaborate with occupational therapists to help individuals regain independence in their daily lives. They employ scientific health methods and a holistic approach to assist patients in developing, recovering, improving, and maintaining the skills necessary for daily living and work. This can involve helping individuals with disabilities learn unique and functional task approaches or aiding older individuals in adapting to health and mobility changes as they age.

An OTA’s work may also involve working with patients to modify their environment or home situation to meet their needs and increase functionality. Their responsibilities include implementing therapeutic activities, monitoring progress, and collaborating with the occupational therapist to make necessary adjustments to a patient’s care plan. OTAs often work with diverse populations ranging from children with developmental challenges to adults recovering from injuries or surgeries.

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Occupational Therapy Assistant Career Path

Upon successful completion of an Occupational Therapy Assistant program, graduates emerge ready to take the NBCOT® Exam and become a certified OTA. Upon successful completion, they are prepared to enter the field as versatile generalists with the skills needed for various practice areas. The comprehensive curriculum ensures you will be prepared and acquire the skills necessary for multiple practices in the field. As an Occupational Therapy Assistant, many practice areas are available in your career. Some of these are:

  • Autism
  • Rehabilitation
  • Home Healthcare
  • Environmental Modification
  • Geriatric Occupational Therapy

The broad spectrum of career options allows OTAs to align their work with their interests and passions. Pursuing work in a specialized area often requires gaining experience in the field and meeting additional requirements for a given certification. These requirements ensure practitioners possess the specialized knowledge and skills to excel in their chosen field.

Through St. Kate’s OTA program, you will have the opportunity to explore various areas within the field of occupational therapy during your fieldwork. This hands-on approach allows you to apply learned knowledge in hands-on settings, gaining valuable insights into various practice areas and preparing you to become an OTA.

The exposure to diverse clinical environments helps students make informed decisions about their career paths and realize their preferences and strengths within the field. St. Kate’s OTA program not only equips graduates with a solid foundation as generalists but also encourages exploration and specialization within the expansive field of occupational therapy.

St K. OTA student in purple shirt standing outside

OTA Requirements

OTA requirements encompass educational and certification components, maintaining the comprehensive framework for aspiring Occupational Therapy Assistants. Before you choose which path is right for you, here are a few educational and certification requirements to consider.


Education is crucial in preparing you for a successful career as an OTA. To become an OTA, you can enter a program with a high school diploma or passing GED® score. St. Kate’s OTA program specifically seeks applicants with a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 2.5 or college credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, if applicable. Additionally, prospective students at St. Kate’s must fulfill prerequisite courses while meeting GPA requirements to ensure a solid academic foundation.


Certification is another critical milestone on the journey to becoming an OTA. Occupational Therapy Assistant certification is obtained by earning a passing score on the NBCOT exam. This exam is typically completed at the end of the OTA degree program before students begin applying for positions and marks the transition from student to certified practitioner.

Following certification, you must obtain licensure from your respective state to meet the regulatory requirements. This critical step ensures that OTAs are recognized and authorized to practice within their regions.

How St. Kate’s Prepares You for the Field

St. Kate’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program is dedicated to preparing you for a rewarding healthcare career. At St. Kate’s OTA program, we ensure that graduates enter the field fully prepared as occupational therapy assistants.

OT students sitting down talking while studying

The comprehensive curriculum offers a well-rounded education that combines academic knowledge with hands-on experience in fieldwork. You will complete online coursework, in-person skills labs, and fieldwork, allowing you to adapt the OTA program to your schedule, no matter your stage of life.

St. Kate’s prioritizes creating a supportive and collaborative learning environment. During the program, you will have access to highly knowledgeable and experienced instructors committed to guiding students and strengthening their skills during their academic journey. We teach you the most up-to-date skills and practices needed to practice within the OTA field.

Students gain exposure to different healthcare settings to adapt to diverse patient populations and develop a versatile skill set. You will have many opportunities to explore different areas, such as during skills labs and fieldwork, where you can ask questions and gain various experiences.

Get Started Today

three OT students posing and smiling in class

With more knowledge of the path toward an OTA career, you are better equipped to make decisions about your future. To learn more about the OTA program at St. Kate’s and determine your eligibility, contact us today, and we will help you take the first step toward becoming an OTA.

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The Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy and OTA

Get answers to your questions about the field, about the OTA career path, and about St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program.

book with cover title: Occupational Therapy Assistant Explained