Occupational Therapy provides opportunities to assist people facing challenges in everyday life. Through guided and goal-directed participation in occupations of leisure, work and activities of daily living, individuals can restore their ability to do the things they need, want, or are expected to do.
Occupational therapy practitioners contribute to improving independence and quality of life for people of all ages in a variety of settings concerned with health care, education, community and social services. Occupational therapy assistants work in collaboration with supervising occupational therapists to serve individuals or groups who experience impairment, loss of activity or ability to participate fully in meaningful occupations due to genetic disorders, chronic conditions, illness, accidents, mental impairment, or social conditions such as poverty and violence.
Study in the major includes topics in biological science, social science, communications, mathematics and technologies. These studies are integrated with core requisites in the major and with community and clinical fieldwork experiences. The major uses a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment and tools that are reflective of current practice in occupational therapy. Through extensive hands-on laboratory experiences, the student has opportunities for application of knowledge learned in the classroom. Level I Fieldwork experiences provide exposure and practice within clinical environments, schools and community settings. Level II Fieldwork provides a full-time working experience under the supervision of an occupational therapy practitioner in a variety of practice areas, following successful completion of academic course work.
About the curriculum
View the classes you will be attending in the College Catalog.
OTA graduates who choose to continue their occupational therapy education, can complete the Bachelor of Science in Applied Health Studies at Penn College. This degree offers enhanced career opportunities. It will also satisfy the requirements for admission to a number of master’s degree programs in occupational therapy offered at colleges and universities around the country. The master’s degree is the entry level degree of the Registered Occupational Therapist.
Occupational therapy assistants work in highly diversified settings. Examples include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, community mental health centers and inpatient psychiatric units, vocational rehabilitation programs, sheltered workshops, drug and alcohol programs, prison systems, adult day care centers, programs for children with developmental disability, and public school systems.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapy assistants was $59,310 in May 2017. The top 10 percent earned more than $80,320.
Industries with the highest published employment for this occupation are:
|Industry||Employment||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||18,600||$28.70||$59,700|
|Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)||7,850||$31.50||$65,520|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||4,860||$25.66||$53,380|
|Home Health Care Services||2,220||$32.58||$67,760|
|Elementary and Secondary Schools||1,850||$24.73||$51,450|
Statistics reported in May 2017
Accreditation and Program Information
The Occupational Therapy Assistant major is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). For further information, contact: ACOTE, c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. Telephone c/o AOTA 301-652-AOTA. www.acoteonline.org
NBCOT Certification Exam Outcomes
Special Admissions Requirements
Acceptance into this competitive major is based on an admissions ranking process. Students accepted to Penn College will take related courses in the OTA major, earning points that will be applied toward the selective admissions process. Completion of related courses does not guarantee acceptance into the major. For details, see the OTA Admissions Ranking System information.
Students enrolled in the major must earn a minimum final grade of "C" in each of their occupational therapy assistant courses. Failure to do so will result in the inability to matriculate in the program.
Graduates of this associate degree major are also eligible for admission to the College's Applied Health Studies (BAH) program. See the program director for details.
International health credentials/licensure, sciences courses, and most math courses will not be accepted to satisfy requirements of this major. Please see additional information for international students applying to Health Sciences majors.
Tools, Uniforms & Supplies
Students accepted into the Occupational Therapy Assistant major will incur expenses for uniforms, malpractice insurance, clearances and certifications, etc. See the complete list.
Some items are available for purchase through The College Store.
Clubs & Activities
Notice of Conviction
Child abuse clearance and criminal background checks are required by some agencies involved in fieldwork and/or capstones. Agencies can bar students from their sites if a criminal record exists or a positive drug test is noted. By virtue of contract for Penn College students to be at clinical sites, drug testing is required for admission and students will be subject to drug testing while in program. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education and Licensure and NBCOT advise that a drug-related conviction and/or conviction of a felonious act may result in denial and/or revocation of a license to practice occupational therapy. Inability to gain clinical or fieldwork or intern education experiences results in inability to meet program objectives and outcomes. For additional clarification, students can speak with their program director.
Occupational Therapy Advisory Committee
- Ms. Lynn Fatool, '95, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Commonwealth of PA, Danville State Hospital
- Mr. Steve Gallik, OTR/L, Selinsgrove Center
- Ms. Tina Hauck, COTA/L, '98, Community Services Group
- Mr. Shaun Smith, OTR/L, Albright Care Services
- Ms. Mindy Tedesco, '88, OTR/L, Susquehanna Home Health
Advisory committees, which act as recommending bodies to the faculty and administration, consist of in-field professionals who act as partners in the development of curriculum. Their curricular and equipment advice as well as their industry connections and internship opportunities are invaluable to our students and to the growth of our institution.