Going Back to School for a Career Change to Occupational Therapy

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Are you looking for a career change to occupational therapy? Pursuing a second career might be the right next step in your life. Here are 4 tips on how to pursue a career change to occupational therapy, a fulfilling career for driven and caring people.

St K. OTA student in purple shirt standing outside

Job satisfaction is an important part of life. Choosing to return to school to pursue a career change to occupational therapy can be both rewarding and fulfilling. And while the idea of going back to school and changing your career can be frightening to consider, St. Kate’s online OTA program can help you change to a career you are passionate about and can be incredibly rewarding. Consider these tips if you are looking for a new career.

1. Understand that there’s a difference between dissatisfaction in your career and finding a different job.

Before you commit to a career change to occupational therapy, make sure you feel the need of starting a new career and not just a new job. You may just find that you are unsatisfied with your current position and simply need a new company to work for.

Look for these signs to determine if you are ready for a change in career:

  • You’ve worked for a couple of different companies and still aren’t satisfied.
  • You find yourself going through the motions at your job.
  • You feel no pride in your work.
  • You actively dream about working in a completely different field.
  • You wonder how your current skills would translate to other positions.

Research any new careers you are contemplating. Many of the skills you currently use can translate to a new position, and you may find that you enjoy a general field.

2. Research your new career path.

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for in a career or are leaning toward a particular profession, it’s a good idea to research demand and earning potential. It can also be helpful to talk to people in the field. You might even ask about job shadowing to see what it’s like.

Every career is different, making detailed career-specific research necessary. For some career changes, it could just take finding someone willing to give you a chance or selling an employer on your willingness to learn new skills. Others may require a certification, a specific degree (or degrees), professional licensure, or some combination thereof.

As an OTA you would help individuals overcome the challenges of performing daily activities because of an injury, illness, or disability. If you are considering a career change to occupational therapy, there are various practice areas, such as:

  • Children and Youth
  • Productive Aging
  • Health and Wellness
  • Mental Health
  • Rehabilitation and Disability
  • Work and Industry

When you decide on going back to school, it is also important that you talk with your family and friends. They will become your support group to help you get through your classes and with your life back at home.

students sitting in classroom with instructor

3. Look for the traits you are seeking in a new career.

The last thing you want is to start a second career that you end up unhappy at. Make a list of the traits you wish to have in a career. Do you prefer working in a more creative field, or something more analytical? Are you seeking a place where you work individually or with a team? Do you want to work with clients or be behind the scenes?

Having a career change to occupational therapy allows you to employ many skills and work in a fulfilling setting. That’s one reason U.S News and World report ranks a career as an occupational therapy assistant No.1 on its list of Best Health Care Support Jobs.

Those who work as occupational therapy assistants can:

  • Work with a variety of different clients daily.
  • Work with occupational therapists to execute plans.
  • Help clients adapt to injuries, disabilities, and developmental problems to live functional lives.

When you are choosing your new career, think about the why behind it. This may seem obvious at the beginning, but it is important to define it so you can look back on it when school and life get rough.

4. Get the best education for your new career.

Once you have a good idea of the basic path to your new career, it’s time to research educational programs to help you get there (if required). Keep in mind that many universities offer programs designed specifically for career changers by allowing them to use their existing college credits to graduate sooner. However, if you are looking at a completely different field, you may have to start from the basics.

Those who work in occupational therapy get a unique opportunity to work closely with patients of all ages and help them adapt to illnesses and overcome new hardships. If you choose to seek a career as an occupational therapy assistant, you can attend St. Catherine University to earn your OTA degree.

You will complete your classes in an engaging online platform, practice your skills in labs and work with real patients during your fieldwork. St. Catherine will help you feel prepared for your new career as an occupational therapy assistant.

three OT students posing and smiling in class

How to Become an OTA

St. Catherine University’s occupational therapy assistant program accepts students with varying education levels. While having college experience is helpful, it is not required to be eligible for our OTA program. Regardless of where you stand academically, you will need:

  • A high school diploma or a passing GED exam score
  • A minimum cumulative high school GPA of 2.5, or
  • College credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, if applicable

Before starting our program, we require the successful completion of four prerequisite courses. You can take these courses online through our university. They can be completed independently or in conjunction with the OTA program’s LIFE Core courses.

After you complete our occupational therapy assistant program through a blended approach of online and on-site curriculum, the last step in becoming an OTA is taking the NBCOT exam to become a certified occupational therapy assistant.

Make the Switch to OTA

Are you ready to pursue a career change to occupational therapy and your new dream? With our program, you can be an occupational therapy assistant in as few as 16 months. Contact us today and talk to an advisor about enrolling in St. Catherine’s online OTA program.

outside shot of st. kate campus

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