COTA Career Outlook


If you are creative and enjoy helping people, you might find your career niche as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). To join the profession, you must have an associate degree from an accredited OTA program as well as pass the NBCOT® Exam for certification. St. Catherine University developed the NBCOT Prep Coaching Program that helps prepare you to sit for the exam after graduation.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) also offers certification programs for post-graduate OTAs in the following specialty areas:

  • Driving and community mobility
  • Environmental modification
  • Feeding, eating and swallowing
  • Low vision
  • School system

If you really love people and helping others, then an OTA career is the right choice.

—Courtney Tomney, Online OTA Class of 2015

Job Outlook

Occupational therapy is one of the top healthcare fields in the United States today.and the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) profession is in very high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that employment for the profession will grow by 29% between 2016 and 2026. For reference, the BLS expects overall U.S. employment to grow by just 7% for the same period.

It’s due to this exceptional growth — along with job flexibility, high job satisfaction, and only moderate work stress levels — that U.S. News & World Report ranked OTA the #1 healthcare support role in both 2016 and 2017. OTA has been cited in numerous business publications as one of the most promising and fastest-growing careers.

OTA Salary Data

While OTAs are needed across the country, here are the 15 states with the highest employment levels, along with average OTA salary and hourly wage data, as of May 2017:


OTA Average SalaryOTA Average Hourly Wage
North Carolina$61,470$29.55
New York$59,650$28.68

With an 80% online curriculum, and skills labs and Level I Fieldwork sites in California, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia, our online OTA program makes it possible for students in all 50 states to study to become OTAs.

Work Environment

A highly diverse profession, occupational therapy assistants work full time in a wide variety of practice settings, from hospitals to schools to nursing homes. While most OTAs work in a hospital or nursing home setting, more and more (one-third) are turning to private practice, and 10% choose in-home settings.

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