Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Why occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a growing healthcare field in the United States with increasing employment opportunities expected to steadily increase through 2020. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes occupational therapist assistant among its list of fastest growing occupations and predicts much faster than average growth (36% or more) for assistants. Penn State Shenango offers an associate degree program that helps students prepare for careers as certified occupational therapy assistants.

Careers for graduates

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA's) work in a variety of settings, under the supervision of occupational therapists. Young or old, we all have a job to do--the job of living. Learning, growing, playing, working, managing our homes, and caring for our families and ourselves are among the "occupations" of life. Sometimes physical, emotional, or other challenges prevent people from participating fully in the job of living. Stroke, injury, depression, and developmental disabilities, for example, can make it difficult for people to do everyday tasks or be as active and as independent as they'd like. Occupational therapy makes it possible for people to regain independence and to enjoy life to its fullest. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you will make a difference. You will improve the lives of children, young people, and adults alike.

Career Opportunities for a graduate with an associate degree in occupational therapy may include working in public and private schools, early intervention programs, general, psychiatric, and pediatric hospitals, day treatment centers, hospices and home health agencies, rehabilitation hospitals and centers, skilled and intermediate care facilities, community living programs, community wellness centers, work hardening and adjustment programs, and/or hand therapy clinics.

Why Penn State Shenango?

The program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) through the 2020-2021 academic year.

Remember, all programs are not the same. Check out the Penn State difference! Penn State Associate in Occupational Therapy graduates are eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) Certification exam. Successful completion of this exam certifies the occupational therapy assistant as a COTA®. State licensure is required by most states and is usually based on the results of the NBCOT® certification exam.

What would prohibit a student from taking the certification exam?

If you have a felony conviction on your record, this may affect your ability to sit for the certification examination administered by NBCOT® after you graduate; this can subsequently affect your ability to attain state licensure. Before applying for the OTA program, you can contact NBCOT® for information on their early determination program to assess examination eligibility. Go to NBCOT and read the "Early Review" section for details.

Professional Organizations

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) 
4720 Montgomery Lane 
Suite 200 
Bethesda, MD 20824-1220 

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) 
The occupational therapy/occupational therapy assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814- 3449. ACOTE’s telephone number is 301-652-AOTA.

National Board for the Certification of Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT) 
One Bank Street 
Suite 300 
Gaithersburg, MD 20878 
Phone: 301-990-7979
Fax: 301-869-8492 

Penn State Graduation Requirements

General graduation requirements can be found through the undergraduate advising handbook, as well as policies 82-00 and 83-00 from the University Faculty Senate.

Graduation and Exam Pass Rate

OTA Education Standard A.4.2. requires the following information to be available to the public.

  • Graduation rates
  • Direct link to NBCOT program data results

The following information is provided in compliance with Education Standard A.4.2:

OTA Statistics for the Past Three Years

Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rates









3-year totals



Individual school's program performance data on the NBCOT National Certification Exam website

To locate The Pennsylvania State University, Shenango program results, use the drop-down menu as follows:

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. OTA Level Program
  3. Year (i.e. 2014, 2015, etc)


Penn State Shenango Associate in Science in Occupational Therapy graduates will be eligible to take the certification examination administered by:

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Inc. 
One Bank Street, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150 
Phone: (301) 990-7979 
Fax: (301)869-8492