Before going back to school for any reason or for any potential career path, it’s essential to be fully informed about the cost of that schooling. It’s also important to be able to relate that to what kinds of benefits and rewards will be available upon completion of the program, so you can understand what’s at stake and see for yourself whether it’s worthwhile. Here’s some basic information to get started with in terms of the cost of occupational therapy assistant school.
First, what kind of schooling is needed, and for how long? Individuals in this field will need to graduate from a two-year associate’s degree program which is fully accredited by ACOTE, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. A two-year program like this will typically consist of about five semesters, and in many cases it can actually be completed in as little as 15 months, although many part-time, evening and weekend programs are also becoming available.
The cost of your program will depend greatly on the individual school and program, what type of university or college they are, where they, and where you, are located, and much more. It’s worthwhile to take a look at a few specific examples. At the Community College of Rhode Island, the total cost of tuition and fees for their 15-month OTA program is about $5,800, which is amazingly affordable. More in line with a typical cost structure might be the Hawkeye Community College in Iowa, which has a total cost of about $12,000, including an average cost per credit of $133.
Cost per credit will be the major factor separating different costs, and bigger or more well known institutions may have costs at or exceeding $200 per credit, taking total tuition closer to $20,000. So it’s important to do your research and compare which local programs are available to you and see what they charge.
It’s also important to note that there are many scholarships available for students. There are even OTA specific scholarships provided by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, which awards 50 scholarships annually, and more. There are also national programs either currently in place or in the works for loan forgiveness for occupational therapy assistants, as a field of national need.
As an OTA in the workforce, the median annual salary in May 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics was over $48,000, with the top 10 percent of the field earning over $65,000, which is certainly very enticing. Those figures continue to be on the way up as well, as highly skilled individuals are in great demand right now.
Education to become an occupational therapy assistant is very reasonable compared to what it would take to enter many other fields. With scholarships, financial aid and even loan forgiveness programs, it all makes the cost even more accessible. Once you have completed your program, your earnings potential will be high as well, which means it’s a smart investment into yourself, your future and for your family to go to school and study to become an occupational therapy assistant.