How Long Does it Take to Become an OTA? Why the Answer is Up to You.

It’s one of the fastest growing healthcare occupations in the country – Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA). Now, the demand for OTAs is on the rise across the U.S. due to the growing elderly population and increased health needs of baby boomers. That’s why St. Catherine University’s accredited Online OTA program helps students become certified OTAs and enter the workforce faster.

How long does it take to become an OTA through St. Catherine’s Online OTA program? It depends on which curriculum option you choose. Our program gives you flexibility in your course load in order to ensure your success.

“One of the great things about our program is that we have a couple different curriculum options for you,” says Sharon West, Manager of Academic Success. “In our program, you have to complete OTA curriculum along with liberal arts classes, which is commonly referred to as LAS in order to graduate.”

How you want to take these required courses is up to you and that determines how long it will take to complete the Online OTA program and become an OTA.

Option 1

What are your options? The first is Option 1. This allows you to take your OTA classes while you take LAS courses so you can finish sooner.

“If you go this route it typically takes a student about 16 months to complete the program assuming you have all of your prerequisites completed,” says Sharon. “It is a bit of a heavier course load though.”

Why choose Option 1?

Taking LAS and OTA courses simultaneously will help you complete the program in as few as 16 months.

Who is eligible?

Students who have successfully completed all prerequisites can choose Option 1.

Option 2

The other option is for you to start off taking your LAS courses with us, then you can start your OTA classes at a later time. Depending on the number of previous college courses you have to transfer in will determine the length of time it would take you to complete the program. With this option, the program will take longer than 16 months. While you will have a lighter course load each semester, it will also impact how long it takes to become an OTA.

Before starting the Online OTA courses, you may need to complete the required college-level prerequisites, which you can take at the same time as LAS courses.

Why choose Option 2?

  • If you complete your prerequisites and LAS courses first, you will have a spot reserved in the OTA classes.
  • By completing your LAS courses first, so you have a lighter load while taking the OTA coursework.

Option 2 is best for students who:

  • Need to complete prerequisites
  • Don’t meet the minimum GPA required to start OTA courses
  • Are new to online learning
  • Need schedule flexibility

Do You Have a Bachelor’s Degree?

If you have an existing bachelor’s degree, St. Catherine’s Online OTA program has a faster path for you to earn your occupational therapy assistant degree.

The Online OTA program has updated its course by course transfer evaluation for previous bachelor degree holders. That means your classes would automatically transfer and count toward your Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) coursework.

You still would need to successfully complete any prerequisites needed and all of the OTA coursework, BUT you can start your OTA classes sooner and earn your degree in the minimum timeframe of 16 months.

  • LAS Credit Hours Required without a BA or BS: 18 total credit hours
  • LAS Credit Hours with your BA/BS: 7 credit hours (maximum)

What Option Will Work Best for You?

While choosing a curriculum option that works best for you depends on your previous academic experience, there are other factors that can help determine the best path to choose. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • How fast do I want to complete the program?
  • Can I continue to work while enrolled the program?
  • Just how much coursework am I comfortable completing?

Graduating in as Few as 16 Months

If you want to finish the Online OTA program in as few as 16 months, Option 1 is your best bet. First, you need to make sure you are eligible to choose this option.

  1. Have you successfully completed all prerequisites?
  2. Are you able to manage a fulltime course load?

If you can answer yes to these questions, option 1 would be a good fit for you.

Working during the Program

While St. Catherine University does have students who work full and part time during the Online OTA program, there is a 16-week portion of the OTA curriculum that requires 40 hours a week of work.

“During Fieldwork II, you won’t be able to have a job because you’ll be at your placement for 40 hours a week for 16 weeks straight, typically Monday through Friday,” says Sharon. “You’re essentially a practicing OTA during this period, so sometimes you have to take work home with you.”

Your Comfort Level

How much coursework are you comfortable completing? That is something you and your admissions counselor can discuss. It is our job to make sure you choose an academic plan that you can complete successfully.

Consider this: Our OTA classes are 7 ½ weeks long and are fast-paced. You need to feel comfortable completing the OTA coursework AND the LAS courses at the same time in order to choose Option 1. Otherwise, Option 2 would be best for you so you can take on less of a course load.

Are you Ready to Become an OTA?

St. Catherine’s Online OTA program allows you to complete 80% of your coursework online, with the remaining 20% involving onsite skills labs and fieldwork that you must complete in person. Overall, this accredited program provides a rigorous, well-rounded education that prepares you to take the NBCOT® Exam for OTA certification.

Why wait any longer? Contact an admissions counselor today and find out how long it will take to become an OTA.

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