Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Help Patients Succeed as an Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants have a hands-on role in helping patients of all ages learn skills to lead independent lives. As an occupational therapy assistant, you’ll work with an occupational therapist to help people find new ways to succeed.

At Kirkwood, you’ll learn the skills you need to work as an occupational therapy assistant from experienced, caring instructors and utilize state-of-the-art equipment. You’ll be well-prepared to take the national board exam, where Kirkwood’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program has a consistent 100 percent pass rate.

The primary location for Occupational Therapy Assistant students will be the Kirkwood Linn County Regional Center in Hiawatha.

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Kirkwood offers more than $3 million in scholarships for students each year. Students in this program may be eligible to have half their tuition paid for by the Kibbie Grant.

Graduates of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate safe and ethical behaviors in the delivery of occupational therapy services, providing best practice interventions.
  2. Assist the Occupational Therapist to acquire information regarding factors that influence occupational performance throughout the OT process.
  3. Collaborate with the Occupational Therapist to create intervention plans for unique individuals and populations.
  4. Implement interventions in accordance with the intervention plan and under the supervision of the Occupational Therapist to support client participation in areas of occupation throughout the occupational therapy process.
  5. Evaluate intervention outcomes in collaboration with the interprofessional team.
  6. Uphold professional standards and responsibilities to promote quality in practice. 

A one-hour program conference is required prior to acceptance to the program. You'll learn more about the program, specific admissions requirements and have the opportunity to have questions answered by program faculty and staff.

Students in Kirkwood's Occupational Therapy Assistant program are encouraged to join the Kirkwood chapter of HOSA, a global student-led organization exclusively for students enrolled in health science education and biomedical science programs or have interests in pursuing careers in health professions.

HOSA is one of eight recognized members of the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO)CTSOs are co-curricular groups that help students in career and technical education programs further their knowledge and skills by participating in activities, events, and competitions.

Program Costs

Occupational Therapy Assistant 

School Year: 2024–25

Program Entry Semester: Fall

Pre-Reqs Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring Total
Credit Hours per Semester 6.5 16 18 12 18 14 84.5
In-State Tuition $1,410.50 $3,472 $3,906 $2,604 $3,906 $3,038 $18,336.50
Technology Fee per Semester $50 $50 $50 $50 $50 $50 $300
Clinical Expenses (mileage, lodging, screenings, etc.) $0 $500 $0 $0 $400 $3,000 $3,900
Conferences/Seminars $0 $60 $0 $0 $60 $0 $120
Course Resources (textbooks, software, etc.) $250 $700 $800 $400 $600 $100 $2,850
Course/Section Fees $10 $30 $0 $0 $45 $50 $135
Laptop (required devices) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Testing Fees $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Third Party Credentials $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $700 $700
Tool Sets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Uniforms $0 $100 $0 $0 $100 $0 $200
Other $0 $86 $0 $0 $47 $0 $133
Total Estimated Cost $1,720.50 $4,998 $4,756 $3,054 $5,208 $6,938 $26,674.50


Costs provided are estimated and based on the following current tuition rates: $217 (In-State), $290 (Out-of-State), $400 (International).

Fees and costs are subject to change.

To view all costs associated with attending college visit our Tuition and Costs page.

Additional Program Requirements

To get into the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, you must meet the following additional standards. These steps/requirements are in addition to Kirkwood's steps to become a student. 

  • Attend a program conference
  • Apply to the program
  • Have placement test scores or course equivalents on file with the Allied Health office
  • Complete prerequisite courses with a C or higher: Basic Medical Terminology; Human Anatomy & Physiology I

When all criteria have been met, return the admissions criteria checklist (made available in your program conference) to the Allied Health department in Linn Hall. 

Once you're admitted, you'll need to arrange a clinic visit before the start of the program. This information will be available at your program conference.

If college-level placement is not met, students are recommended to meet with an advisor. Kirkwood and Occupational Therapy Assistant admissions policies and procedures are subject to change at any time. After all admissions criteria are met, students are accepted or placed on the waitlist to the Occupational Therapy Assistant program.


The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200  |  North Bethesda, MD 20852 - 4929

(319) 652-AOTA  |  www.acoteonline.org


Program Outcomes

In the three-year period of 2021-2023, the total number of graduates from Kirkwood Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant program was 48, with the overall graduation rate at 75%. To graduate, students must pass the NBCOT Certification Exam. 

Graduation Rates

Academic Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2013 24/18 75%
2014 24/17 71%
2015 24/19 79%
2016 24/16 66%
2017 24/18 75%
2018 22/18 82%
2019 24/17 71%
2020 23/20 86%
2021 24/19 79%
2022 16/12 75%
2023 24/17 70%


Licensure and Certification

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Successful completion of the exam leads to the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) designation. View the state listing guide to identify which Kirkwood program fulfills state guidelines for professional licensure and certification. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification exam or to obtain state licensure.

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)


Mission Statement

The mission of the program is to prepare a diverse student population to be competent Occupational Therapy Assistants who view their clients holistically, serve the needs of the community, advocate for the underserved, and commit to lifelong learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Graduates with Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can obtain jobs in a variety of different career opportunities.

Explore Careers

You might consider taking several courses in an area of interest to you. Coursework in foreign language, sign language, art, early childhood education, psychology, coaching, business, or disability services provides OTA students with more experience in a specific practice area.

It will not shorten the length of the program but it will lighten the course load.

For students to transition from one semester to the next, they must maintain a C or greater in all technical courses and A&P II. Students must also pass all performance exams in courses that use performance exams. Students must also receive a pass on professionalism rubrics in courses that use the professionalism rubric. Students must also successfully pass fieldwork rotations to transition from one semester to the next.

Maybe. Students are placed according to educational needs. Personal situations are not considered when placing students. Most clinic sites are in Eastern and Central Iowa.

For students to graduate from the program, they must maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average and receive a C or greater in all pre-requisite courses, technical courses, and in A& P II. Students receiving an F or incomplete in any courses on the plan of study are not eligible to graduate from the program.
Yes. Students who wish to go part-time should take their general education courses prior to beginning the program, and then proceed to program courses on a full- or part-time basis. Students wishing to go part-time for the technical portion of the program must meet with the program director to discuss the program sequence.

No, an OTA must legally and ethically work under the supervision of a registered Occupational Therapist (OT). The OT will initiate contact and evaluation of the patient and then decide on the treatment plan. The OTA will provide input to the treatment plan and carry out treatment.

Yes, but they are two different degrees. The OT degree is achieved through completion of a master’s degree program. The two years you spend getting your OTA degree do not count toward your OT degree.

You can begin an OT degree by taking your general education classes at Kirkwood. Be sure to check with the OT program you are interested in to determine which classes will be accepted. If you still want to begin with an OTA degree, see your OTA program advisor at Kirkwood.


Allied Health
2164 Linn Hall