[updated June 2018] You’ve researched career options and decided you’d like to become an occupational therapy assistant (OTA). While considering schools like St. Catherine University’s 16-month OTA program, maybe you’ve started to think about where you’d like to live after you graduate. So what are the best places to live as an OTA? As is often the case, it depends.
First, it might be a good idea to decide whether you’d like to live in or near a city or whether you want to live a less metropolitan lifestyle. This might vary, depending on how deep your roots are in your current hometown, whether you have or plan to have children, how many social activities you pursue, if you have an interest in various sporting or cultural events and countless other possibilities.
If you tend to prefer city life, some of the top cities that often come to mind can also be great choices for your career as an OTA, including Dallas, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, which are all among the highest employers of OTAs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . However, you shouldn’t only focus on cities with the most employed OTAs. Instead, consider cities with the highest concentration of OTA jobs, which don’t include as many larger cities as you might think. When looking at the highest job concentration of employed OTAs, Gadsden, Alabama; Victoria, Texas; Cumberland, Maryland; Pueblo, Colorado; and Homosassa Springs, Florida make up the top five metropolitan areas.
If you instead prefer a more rural lifestyle, it may be best to consider the states with the best employment opportunities in general. Pennsylvania and Ohio could be considered the best options in this case, since they are among the top five states for both highest employment of OTAs overall and highest job concentration of employed OTAs.
Another important consideration is whether you want to favor areas with higher income potential. In this case, Texas, Arkansas, California, Maryland and New Jersey are the top states for OTA annual mean wage. Four Texas cities are included in the top paying metropolitan areas (San Antonio, Fort Worth, Tyler, Corpus Christi) with Las Vegas rounding out the top five.
You should weigh the cost of living in each location anytime you focus on income potential in various areas. Keep in mind that the highest pay often does not translate into the highest purchasing power once you consider the differences in the cost of housing, groceries, transportation and other expenses. We recommend using a cost of living comparison calculator like the one available here from CNN Money.
Because the job prospects for OTAs are expected to grow by 40% in the next ten years, finding a position as an OTA shouldn’t be difficult regardless of where you live. If you are interested in learning more about becoming an OTA, contact us today.