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.

Program Costs

Occupational Therapy Assistant 

Program Entry Semester: Fall 2021


Credits: 6.5 6.5
Tuition: $1,209 $1,209
Fees: $72.25 $72.25
Books: $250 $250


Year One

Credits: 16 18 34
Tuition: $2,976 $3,348 $6,324
Fees: $900 $235 $1,135
Books: $600 $800 $1,400



Credits: 12 12
Tuition: $2,232 $2,232
Fees: $320 $320
Books: $350 $350


Year Two

Credits: 18 14 32
Tuition: $3,348 $2,604 $5,952
Fees: $110 $765 $875
Books: $600 $100 $700




Costs provided are estimated and based on in-state tuition rates. Book cost estimates are for new books. Individual expenses may vary. These costs also do not factor in potential financial aid benefits. For a complete view of your specific cost expectation, visit our Cost Estimator Tool.
Included fees: Technology Fee, Lab Course Fee, Third Party Credentials (National Board Exam, Iowa State Licensure, Licensure costs vary by state), Class Related Supplies (Uniform, Scrubs, Nametag), and Ancillary Expenses (Health Screenings, X-Ray, TB, HepB), Clinical Expenses (Travel/Parking, Conference/Seminar), Miscellaneous (Background Check, AOTA Access Fee). Health insurance is required for this program, costs will vary depending on coverage.
Current Tuition Rates per Credit Hour: $ 186 In-State; $ 249 Out-of-State; $ 372 International
Updated: 1/15/2021

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.

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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


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)

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.

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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.

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.

Yes. Students who wish to go part-time should take their general education courses prior to beginning the program, then proceed to program courses on a full- or part-time basis.

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