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Degree Overview: Associate in Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) Degree for Occupational Therapy Assistants

Majors Overview June 20, 2014

Those interested in assisting occupational therapists in rehabilitation and client care settings should look into Associate of Science (A.S.) or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs in Occupational Therapy Assistant; Associate in Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) programs in this field may not exist. Those that graduate from accredited institutions can earn state licensure and voluntary certification and obtain employment.

Associate in Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) Degree Programs for Occupational Therapy Assistants

Students enrolled in associate degree programs for occupational therapy assistants are taught how to become effective assistants to occupational therapy practitioners in serving individuals regardless of their age that suffer from injuries, mental impairments, social conditions, illnesses, and chronic conditions. The program requires students to participate in a variety of lab experiences using modern equipment and tools. They can also gain work experience supervised by occupational therapists in clinical settings.

Students are taught about collaborating with patients and about the legislative, federal, and state standards of healthcare services. When they graduate from these programs, students are armed with the ability to positively motivate human performance and help patients accomplish a better level of functioning to help them cope with everyday activities.

Education Requirements

Some schools may require students to display a fluency in high school biology, English, math, and reading before allowing them to enroll. Typically, admission criteria require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students seeking admission may also need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification before being allowed to do clinical work.


Apart from hands-on work experiences and classroom lectures related to occupational therapy assistantship, coursework in these programs may include various other disciplines, such as communications, technologies, biological science, math, and social science. Coursework may include the following subject areas:

•Physical rehabilitation techniques
•Medical terminology
•Abnormal and clinical psychology
•Anatomy and physiology
•Scientific movement analysis and kinesiology writing in the health professions
•Management issues in occupational therapy

Job and Wage Outlook

A high job growth rate of 30% has been predicted for occupational therapy assistants during the period of 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Graduates of the associate’s degree program can seek entry-level jobs in different work settings, such as mental health centers, public school systems, hospitals, adult day care centers, drug and alcohol programs, and rehabilitation centers. In 2010, occupational therapy assistants took home an average annual wage of $55,250 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Occupational therapy assistants need licensure or registration in most states before they can practice their profession. Licensure standards vary by state, but a general requirement is an associate degree program (BLS).

In some instances, earning voluntary certification offered by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) will suffice to support occupational therapy assistants and satisfy state licensure standards. The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant title is offered by the NBCOT, the certification exam that can be taken by graduates from a school that carries the accreditation of the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®).

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