Occupational Therapy Assistants help people improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments and promote independence through meaningful tasks. They work under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist.They teach patients, clients and children how to use special equipment, modify their environments for safety, access education, recover, improve, and maintain the skills needed for daily living and working Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.


Graduates of RVCC’s OTA program engage in treating both the young and old. An OTA may work in the schools with children or young adults, in hospitals with those who have suffered a trauma or injury, in the home with a person who is striving toward independence, or in the community addressing health and wellness needs. These are just a few of the options available for practice.  River Valley prepares students for success regardless of the avenue they choose to pursue.

Career Options

  • Home Care
  • Mental Health Facility
  • School System
  • Geriatric Care

Related Degrees

  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Nursing
  • Radiologist Technologist
  • Medical Laboratory Technician

Accreditation Information

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), ACOTE C/O AOTA, 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929, The web site is www.aota.org.  Questions about ACOTE accreditation can be directed via the ACOTE web site www.acoteonline.org or via AOTA telephone number: (301) 652-AOTA

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at River Valley Community College is committed to and shall:  Prepare post-secondary students to assist in the practice of occupational therapy under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist and/or related fields. Provide baseline orientation in both scientific and cultural foundations of a liberal education in order that they become productive and contributing members of the community. Empower students to continue as lifelong learners for professional and personal development.

Program Goals

To prepare students/graduates to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and attitudes to effectively assist in the occupational therapy treatment process.
  • Collect pertinent data regarding the client’s occupational performance in sensorimotor, cognitive integrative, cognitive, psychosocial skills and psychological components.
  • Develop therapy plans relevant to clients’ occupational performance needs and rehabilitation goals.
  • Implement therapy programs.
  • Monitor and modify treatment plan as needed.
  • Assure continuity of treatment through discharge planning.
  • Assist in the management of occupational therapy services.
  • Demonstrate values, attitudes and behaviors congruent with the American Occupational Therapy Association Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics\
  • Accurately and respectfully use written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills to insure understanding in the delivery of occupational therapy services.
  • Pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) national competency examination at a 90% or higher level for first-time test takers.

Program Outcomes

Graduates will:

  • Demonstrate positive ethical behaviors
  • Conduct themselves in a professional manner
  • Establish occupational identity and behaviors that supports work with diverse populations in the evolving healthcare environment
  • Demonstrate occupational competence as evidenced by provision of competent, quality patient care with the highest degree of professionalism and ethical behavior, including adherence to supervision guidelines.
  • Employ strategies of occupational adaptation to promote health, wellness, and participation for individuals and their caregivers through purposeful activity, occupations, technology, within the framework of “best practice”.
  • Demonstrate effective intra and interpersonal communication skills to support productive relationships with consumers, caregivers, coworkers,
  • Utilize critical thinking and clinical reasoning strategies to address therapeutic problems as presented in working environment.
  • Value and instill lifelong learning skills to support service competence, community service, and personal growth and development.

Curriculum Grading and Progression Through Program

Students who earn less than a “B-” (80%) grade for any professional course must repeat that course.  Students who repeat the course for the second time and earn less than a “B-grade will be suspended from the program for one semester. Students who earn less than a “C” (73%) grade for any liberal arts course must repeat that course.  Students who repeat the course for a second time and earn less than a “C” grade should refer to the Student Handbook policy. At selected points in the curriculum. Students must pass a comprehensive examination in order to progress. 

Curriculum Flexibility

The curriculum may be completed in two to three years. A curriculum plan is individualized for each student and done so with the OTA Program Director. All students must complete the curriculum within a three year period from the date of their matriculation.

All aspects of the curriculum, including Level II FW (IIA and IIB) must be completed within a two to three year time frame.

All new applicants must:

  • Complete 2-4 hours of Fieldwork observation (Not applicable currently due to COVID-19*)
  • Demonstrate proof of High School chemistry, college level Chemistry I, or Intro to Chemical Principles
  • Submit one letter of recommendation
  • Submit Signed Essential Skills Agreement
  • Submit Signed Licensure/Liability Agreement

Please download and complete the OTA Application Packet. (PDF).

Criminal Background History: Consideration for Applicants

Students must submit proof of criminal background checks and fingerprinting (required for FW placement and may be completed in the first year of matriculation) *the cost of these are the responsibility of the student

Background checks are required for all OTA students and are completed in the first semester of the program.  A student, with a criminal background, accepted into the OTA program may have difficulty being placed for Level II Fieldwork. Some fieldwork sites have policies forbidding the placing of students with certain criminal backgrounds in their settings. It is important for the OTA faculty to be aware of any student with a criminal background so efforts may be made, sooner than later, to establish for him or her, a fieldwork site.

OTA Students Previously Convicted of a Felony or Other Serious Crime Taking and passing the national certification exam is mandatory for practicing occupational therapy in the United States. States require OT practitioners to be licensed. A passing score on the certification exam is typically a requirement to secure an OT/OTA state license. Prospective students who have been convicted of felonies and/or other serious crimes (as defined by NBCOT) may not be eligible to take the national certification exam to become an Occupational Therapy Practitioner.

As of January 1, 2019, the NBCOT will implement its Policy for Presumptive Denial. Exam candidates who do not meet NBCOT eligibility requirements have the right to appeal any decision made by the NBCOT.

NBCOT Presumptive Denial Policy URL: https://www.nbcot.org/-/media/NBCOT/PDFs/Presumptive_Denial_Policy.ashx NBCOT Early Determination Review Any potential or current OTA student concerned about his/her future eligibility to take the certification exam, as it relates to his or her criminal background may participate in NBCOT’s Early Determination Review. NBCOT Early Determination Review Payment Form URL: https://www.nbcot.org/-/media/NBCOT/PDFs/early-determination-review-paymentform.ashx?la=en

 YearNational NG Total TestingNational NG Passing (%)RVCC Program TestingRVCC NG Program Passing (%)
 2019 4665 89 13 100
 2018 4652 91 13 85
 2017 5038 91 18 89

NBCOT Exam Pass Rates (3 year period)

NG= New Graduate

NBCOT Program Data Results: https://www.nbcot.org/Educators/Home

Graduation Rates/Retention Rates


Students Starting the Program

Students Graduating

Graduation Rates (in %)














69-70 Credits Required

and are finding jobs with a great deal of flexibility, good benefits and room for growth.

Program Contact

Jennifer Saylor