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The following are the most frequently asked questions about the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.

Is the Cabarrus College Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program accredited?

Yes, the OTA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and obtained a 10-year accreditation in 2018/2019 which continues through 2028/2029. It is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy (OT) focuses on the prevention of disabling conditions and rehabilitation of clients who have physical disabilities, mental illness, developmental delay, or problems resulting from aging. You might find OT personnel working with:

  • A child in the public school
  • A stroke patient in the hospital
  • A schizophrenic client at the veterans' hospital
  • An elderly resident in a nursing home
  • An injured seamstress trying to return to work
  • A mother with developmental disabilities
  • A homemaker with severe arthritis, requiring special equipment in her home

The role of an OT clinician is to help clients improve abilities to perform despite physical and mental impairments and activity restrictions. OT practitioners are trained to select specific activities and use them therapeutically to meet the goals of each individual. Treatment goals could include:

  • Cognitive retraining using a computer
  • Fabricating a splint for a repetitive work injury
  • Adapting a spoon for an individual with arthritis
  • Teaching someone how to dress themselves with the use of one hand
  • Adapting a switch so a child can operate a battery-operated toy
  • Teaching a leisure activity to a client with depression

Who practices Occupational Therapy? Should I be a COTA or an OTR?

There are two levels of Occupational Therapy practitioners: the Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR), and the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). An OTR will have six years of education and a master's degree. People who choose to be OTR's will work with patients but will also develop programs, make administrative decisions, and conduct research. A COTA will have a two-year degree and typically will work directly with patients under the supervision of an OTR.

How long does it take to complete the program?

It takes five consecutive semesters including a summer session to complete the OTA program.

How do I know if Occupational Therapy is the right field for me?

Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association to learn more. 

Can I keep working while I am in the COTA program?

If you need to work, it is best if you do so with a flexible schedule on weekends or at night. It is not recommended that you work more than 16 hours a week so that you have adequate time to study.

Are there weekend or evening classes?

The majority of the OTA classes are during the day. There may be classes that are scheduled for early evening hours and on Saturdays to meet the general educational requirements.

Are there online classes?

Some courses are online, but the laboratory or clinical portion of each course is in-person, either at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences or at an assigned clinical fieldwork site.

Can the courses be taken part time?

Students can complete the OTA program on a part-time or full-time schedule; however, all classes must be taken in a specific sequence because course content builds upon previously taught information.

How many fieldworks are required?

Students complete three Level I fieldwork experiences in conjunction with the didactic (lecture) portion of the program and two Level II fieldworks following the didactic coursework.

  • Level I fieldwork includes 48 hours of instruction and is completed virtually via the use of Simucase and in-person at an assigned clinical site.
  • Level II fieldwork includes 16 weeks of full-time (40 hours per week) in-depth clinical experiences consistent with the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) standards. Level II fieldwork is routinely scheduled during normal business hours; however, students may be expected to work on weekends or 9-10 hour shifts depending on the assigned fieldwork site.Part-time fieldwork is an option pending availability of a fieldwork site. Utilizing the part-time fieldwork option would extend the length of the curriculum.

Additional information regarding all fieldwork can be found in the College Catalog Course Description section.

How is fieldwork arranged when students don’t live near the college?

The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator works with students to schedule available fieldwork experiences near their preferred location per OTA program policies. Students may need to travel up to one hour for fieldwork and clinical experiences.

When will applications for the OTA program be accepted?

Entry into the OTA program is offered for fall only. Application timelines follow the college guidelines for all fall admissions.

Is there a time limitation for my pre-requisite courses and/or degrees?

The OTA program only accepts math and biology credits obtained in the past five years.

Am I eligible for financial aid?

This will depend on your individual circumstances.  A large percentage of our students receive aid, which includes a mix of scholarships, loans, grants, work/study, institutional gift aid and federal financial aid. Our dedicated financial aid team will work with you individually to find all aid for which you are eligible.  The first step is to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  See the Financial Information section of our website for more information.

What is required after I complete all the educational components of the OTA program?

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).  After successful completion of this examination, the individual will be credentialed as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).  In addition, most states require licensure to practice.  State licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination, as well as character references and criminal record checks.

In 2021, 100% of Cabarrus College of Health Sciences OTA Program graduates passed the NBCOT certification examination.

What is the employment outlook for occupational therapy assistants?

Cabarrus College has an outstanding reputation in our region, and employment opportunities are good in the state of North Carolina. Beginning salaries range from $25,000 to $46,000 with yearly pay increases typically provided for good performance and additional experience. Our program prioritizes preparing students for the steps that follow graduation, including how to study for the certification exam, apply for a state license, conduct a job search and interview for a job. Ninety percent of our graduates who are actively looking for work and willing to travel up to 45 minutes from their home have found work within six months of graduation.

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