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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Photo

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy is a health science specialty that employs the use of occupations, purposeful activity, and exercise for individuals who are limited by physical injury or illness, psychosocial dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, developmental or learning disabilities, or the aging process, in order to maximize independence, prevent disability, and maintain health. Practice encompasses evaluation, treatment, and consultation.

Enrollment - 25 students

Accreditation - Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Ln, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, 1-301-652-6611 X2914. Status: Accredited

Licensure - Graduates of the program will be eligible to take the national certification examination for occupational therapy assistants administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy Inc. (NBCOT). Successful completion of this exam entitles the individual to practice as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) under the supervision of a registered occupational therapist. Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Schedule - The professional courses begin each Summer term. Classes include both didactic and laboratory sessions. Classes are usually scheduled Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00AM - 5:30PM. The OTA program cannot accept part-time students.

Faculty - The OTA program has the equivalency of two full-time instructors, a full-time program coordinator and a full-time academic fieldwork coordinator. Additional part-time faculty/guest lecturers are utilized.

Physical Demands - An Occupational Therapy Assistant may need to be able to perform the following in day-to-day work situations. (Not all inclusive.)

  • Remain continuously on task for 3-4 hours while standing, sitting, moving, lifting and/or bending.
  • Motor skills sufficient to provide safe and effective patient care.
  • Lift and move loads in excess of 50 lbs.

Clinic Students may be exposed to patients, who are critically ill, have infectious disease, mental health or behavioral disorders during clinical rotations. Open wounds, blood and body fluids may be encountered in this field.
The OTA curriculum requires that each student participate in Level I and Level II clinical or fieldwork experiences. Students must complete Level II fieldwork immediately following successful completion of coursework , as is indicated on the OTA curriculum display, however in the event of extenuating circumstances OTA Faculty may grant the student an extension for completion of fieldwork requirements. This extension may not exceed 12 months from course completion. The OTA program affiliates with various facilities throughout the southeast. Fieldwork assignments will be made by the OTA faculty.

Due to the limited availability of sites, there is no guarantee that a given student will be able to remain in Charleston or be placed in the location of his/her choice for clinical rotations. Fieldwork placement is evaluated on an individual basis. Each student must sign a Memorandum of Understanding in reference to this policy prior to beginning classes. The student will be financially responsible for arranging housing, meals, and transportation during these assignments. CPR certification will be required before attending fieldwork experiences.

Insurance: Students must provide proof of major medical insurance. Students may be required to purchase additional professional liability insurance, dependent on the fieldwork site policies.

Salary - Starting salaries for new OTA graduates vary widely based upon geographic locale and site of employment (hospital, home health, private practice, skilled nursing/assisted living facilities, or school system). Income in more rural areas tends to be higher than in metropolitan areas. The current state average is $36,000 to $51,940 annually.

Job Settings - Graduates of the OTA program work in a variety of settings including hospitals, home health agencies, private practices, skilled nursing/assisted living facilities, outpatient clinics, and public school systems.

Student Outcomes A three year reporting period is identified in the following grid. This includes graduates starting the OTA Program in the Summer of 2010, 2011, 2012. A direct link to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) provides information regarding the OTA Program data. This information may be accessed at

Please note that the rates for 2012 are reflective of the time period in which the program was not accepting admissions.


OTA Program

Start Term

# of Program Graduates

# of First time test takers for the NBCOT exam

# of First time test takers who passed the NBCOT exam

% of First time test takers who passed the NBCOT exam

Graduation Rate

Summer 2011






Summer 2012






Summer 2013






Occupational Therapy Assistant Faculty

Joy Crawford, MSRS, OTR/L
OTA Program Coordinator
Building 630, Room 232
(843) 574-6900

Nadine Hanner, MSOT, OTR/L
OTA Clinical Coordinator
Building 630, Room 228
(843) 574-6563



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