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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Frequently Asked Questions

PICTURE BELOW:  Child climbing play set ladder.

Child climbingWhat is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?
Occupational Therapy Assistants work with Occupational Therapists in assessing patient's needs, determining therapeutic goals, planning and implementing treatment. OTAs provide treatment to people who are limited by physical injury/illness, mental health problems, developmental disabilities, or the aging process.  

How can I get more information about Occupational Therapy?
A first step is and peruse the website. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROFESSION OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY - CLICK HERE. Online search for information about occupational therapy.   You Tube search for occupational therapy. Attend an OTA Program Preview meeting - next session listed on the OTA Home Page....

What is the difference between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy focuses on use of treatment techniques to promote pain free movement, prevent disability and develop fitness/wellness programs to increase active lifestyles.  Occupational therapy helps an individual live life to its fullest.  OT teaches individuals who have physical or cognitive changes techniques to help increase independence all the every day things that one must do to live life.  For stories about OT cases:

What is the length of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program?
Two years (beginning in the Summer semester). 

What are the prerequisite courses? 
Biology 144 & 145 or Biology 140 & 141 or
equivalent. Total minimum (8 units). A grade of "C" 
or better is required in all prerequisite courses. 
Bio 140 or Bio 145 must be completed no longer than 5 years from the date of application to the OTA Program. 

Are there other requirements other than the prerequisite courses?
Yes.  You must complete an application packet which is outlined under the "Application Process" tab.
Can prerequisites be completed at a school other than Grossmont College? Prerequisites may be taken at any regionally accredited institution. Applicants taking the anatomy and physiology as a part 1 and part 2 combination are highly recommended to take both at the same institution. Students need to contact the counseling department of the college where the course is to be taken to determine equivalency based on course descriptions and comparison prior to taking the course. The OTA Program determines equivalency of prerequisites at the time of application.  The following links can be used as a resource: 

Grossmont College Articulation

Equivalency chart takes you to nursing page and click on equivalents - THE OTA  PROGRAM UTILIZES THE SAME EQUIVALENCIES FOR ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY AS THE NURSING PROGRAM to determine what courses from other colleges are acceptable prerequisites.  If you are taking anatomy and physiology at Grossmont College you will need to take Bio 120 as a prerequisite.

I have a legal issue and I understand there are background check and drug screen requirements throughout the OTA Program, to sit for the national exam, to apply for licensing and for will this impact me?The OTA Program cannot determine for you if you will be able to complete the program with any issues that may flag your background check or drug screen but can make you aware of some things to consider.  It is virtually impossible to complete all the clinical rotations if you have something that will flag a background check, drug screen or LiveScan.  All students are required to complete rotations at pediatric sites and mental health sites that generally do not accept flags of any kind.  Expunged records often appear on the different checks.  Furthermore, students who has no flags show on early checks, have had flags at sites where they require a LiveScan with stricter requirements whether for clinicals, testing, licensing, or for securing employment.

I am not a student at Grossmont College and I have questions regarding my general education courses, who can I talk to?

  • You can seek assistance from your counselor at your current college regarding transfer of courses to Grossmont College.
  • You can utilize the Grossmont College Catalog as a resource.
  • You can call the phone counselor by calling (619) 644-7208, press 7.
  • for additional information.

Can I transfer OT, OTA, PRE-OT or kinesiology courses from another college? No.  The OTA program does not accept transfer of credits toward the core OTA curriculum.

What are the technology requirements in the OTA Program?
Students must have basic computer skills to be successful in the OTA Program.  The OTA Program utilizes Canvas for all courses. There are hybrid courses and online courses included in the OTA Program. Students in the OTA Program will need basic skills in and access to e-mail, the internet, Canvas learning platform, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  The college does offer an open hours computer lab schedule in the Learning Resource Center and Health Professions Computer Lab.  To determine if you are ready for online learning, please click on the following link and go through the tutorials and questionnaire:  Step 4 of the tutorial covers Canvas basics.  Please click on the Online Resources/Professional Resources tab to the left for additional help.

What are the volunteer and observation hour requirements prior to application?
The OTA Program does not require volunteer hours for application.  If you are interested in volunteering or observation hours, you will need to arrange for these opportunities on your own.  The OTA Program is not able to arrange volunteer or observation opportunities.

Can I apply to the OTA Program while I am taking the prerequisites? No.  Prerequisites are required to apply to the program.  Please see application process.

What is your policy on the use of marijuana? Most clinical health facilities will not accept students using medical marijuana for clinical rotations.  Inasmuch as clinical rotations are required for all students, Grossmont College is unable to accept students into [name of program] who are currently using or plan to use marijuana, including medical marijuana,  during their enrollment in the [name] program.

I understand that the major requires completion of Family Studies 120 prior to fieldwork level II, can I take another course somewhere else? Grossmont College OTA Program requires completion of FS 120 in order to complete the major requirements.  If you have already met your General Education requirements for social sciences cleared through counseling, the OTA Program Director may consider Developmental Psychology coursework as equivalent if the course description and content covers human development from birth to death (entire lifespan).   The OTA Program will determine this at time of application and cannot do so before time of application.  You will need to use your best judgment to determine if your if your course is equivalent to FS 120 based on the above guidelines.  Current OTA students may e-mail the program director a copy of the course description to request a modification.

How many students are accepted into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program?
The OTA Program seats 26 students each summer. 

Is there a waitlist for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program?

Is the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)examination required for entry into the OTA Program? 
The OTA Program does not currently require the TEAS examination to be completed for entry. 

Am I prepared for the time the OTA Program will take to complete successfully?
Click HERE for an activity that will help you determine if you have time in your life for this program.

When may I apply for admission to the OTA Program?
Application is open year round.  PLEASE CLICK ON APPLICATION PROCESS TAB

Can I waive immunizations, TB and/or flu shot?
Students are not eligible to decline without a Physician's statement documenting an adverse reaction or a statement from their pastor indicating refusal for religious reasons.  Clinical sites make the final decision on if they will accept a declination form.  

Can I fax or e-mail my application?
No.  Your completed OTA Application Packet must be hand delivered.  If  you live outside of San Diego County, you may mail in your completed packet.

Must I have a high school diploma on file in the OTA Program office?
All students who have only attended high school, junior college or have a GED must turn in a copy of a high school diploma or transcripts.  If you have an AA or higher you are not required to turn in high school or GED information.  International applicants are required to submit to IERF (International Education Research Foundation, Inc.) or a Grossmont College accepted credential evaluation service, for review of transcripts for proof of high school and college/university coursework.

I have a degree from a school that is not regionally accredited will it be accepted for proof of high school or higher degree?
No, proof of higher degrees must come from regionally accredited institutions.  If you do not have another degree from a regionally accredited institution, you will need to provide proof of high school completion.  If your high school was completed in another country, you will be required to submit an IERF (International Education Research Foundation, Inc.) or a Grossmont College accepted credential evaluation service, for review of transcripts for proof of high school and college/university coursework.

Must I turn in my proof of immunizations at time of application?

What is the deadline to submit proof of immunizations to the OTA Program?
At time of application.

What number am I on the waitlist?
Your name is placed on the waitlist based on the date that your complete OTA Application Packet is received in the OTA Office.   The waitlist is fluid and the length of the list fluctuates as students on the list make life changing decisions. 

When will I know if I am on the waitlist?
When your OTA Application Packet is received in the OTA Office, the students name is placed on the waitlist, a file folder is made and an e-mail will go to the student.  *You must keep your e-mail and contact information current in the OTA Office. If you have a Yahoo or Hotmail account, the OTA Program may not be able to successfully contact you with updated information or with an invitation to the program.  Please obtain an alternate email account when applying to the OTA Program; we cannot accept your application if you indicate a Yahoo or Hotmail account. Always check your spam and junk mail. It is the student's responsibility to check with the OTA Program if they do not receive a waitlist letter and feel they should have.

While I am on the waitlist, what can I do to prepare for the OTA profession/program?
It is recommended that you complete all of your general education courses.  If you have already done that, you can take courses in American Sign Language, gerontology, psychology, kinesiology, Yoga and Tai Chi.  You may also want to consider taking courses at the Health Occupations Center in Santee to help you prepare to enter the health care field by going to their link at   You can peruse the internet under such topics as occupational therapy, AOTA, OTAC Online to explore the profession.  You can volunteer in health care facilities, community service programs and school based programs to learn about interacting with persons through the lifespan.  You cannot take OTA courses in the OTA Program while you are on the waitlist.  You must be accepted into the program cohort in order to take OTA courses.

I understand that you only communicate with waitlist students via e-mail, is that true?
Yes all communications with waitlist students are via e-mail.  It is the student's responsibility to make sure they check their e-mail account is NOT through Yahoo or Hotmail and notify the OTA Program of the new e-mail.   Also it is the responsibility of the student to adjust their mailbox to allow mail from the college and to check their spam/junk mail.

When will I know if I am seated in the next OTA cohort?
Tentatively around late January to early February, 26 students will be e-mailed from the top of the waitlist  a notice of intent asking if you accept or decline a seat in the new class and an OTA Essential Function Skills Form.  You are to answer yes or no on the notice of intent and read/sign the OTA Essential Function Skills Form. Send both back via e-mail by the indicated deadline. Those who do not respond will be removed from the waitlist for failure to respond. It is your responsibility to verify receipt of these forms in the OTA Office by the deadline. 

I received a letter of intent from the OTA Program and sent it back accepting a seat, what happens next?
During March,  you will receive an e-mail orientation packet and instructions.  Mandatory orientation is generally held during the second week of April.  Failure to attend the entire OTA Orientation will result in forfeiture of your seat and your name will be removed from the waitlist if you did not contact the OTA Program prior to the orientation.

I just accepted a seat in the OTA Program, what happens to my status on another Grossmont College health professions program waitlist? 

Once you have accepted a seat and are enrolled in a program, your name will be taken off the waitlists for the other health profession programs.   You must complete the program you are accepted in before you can begin another health professions program at Grossmont College.

What if I cannot accept the invitation to sit for the class in the summer?
Each student on the waitlist can defer their invitation ONE time.   A student will be taken off the waitlist and must reapply if they do not accept their seat upon the second offer.

I submitted my application and have never heard back, what should I do?
First look in your spam and junk folders of your e-mail accounts.  Look at your copy of your application and see what e-mail address you used. Contact the OTA office with updated contact information and inquire as to your status.  It is the applicant's responsibility to keep information current in the OTA office, check e-mail accounts frequently and check spam/junk folders frequently.

I thought I was on the waitlist but I never heard from the OTA office, what should I do?
If you believe you are on the waitlist, you should e-mail the OTA office and attach a copy of your waitlisted letter that you received via e-mail from the OTA office indicating your waitlist date.

Will my application and transcripts be shred if I defer twice or am no longer interested?  A waitlisted applicant can arrange to pick up their transcripts and application by calling the OTA office in advance.  Documents will be shred beginning the first week of October each year.

Is the OTA program a day or evening program? 
The OTA program begins as an evening program. Classes may be held anytime Monday through Friday from 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM; however, there are clinical courses - OTA 111, OTA 141 and OTA 221 that require daytime hours (approximately 20 hours each semester) and 28 additional hours for seminar which could occur during the day, weekend or online. The final semester is full time 40 hours per week for 20 weeks clinical work during the day.

Do I have to take a certification exam?
Yes.  After complete your degree in OTA, you must apply to take the NBCOT OTA Certification Examination.  

Do I have to get a license to practice as an OTA?
In California, after you pass your  NBCOT OTA Certification Examination,  you are required to apply for your OTA state license in order to practice in the State of California.  It varies from state to state, see for specifics.

I have a degree from another country. Can those credits be applied toward prerequisite courses at Grossmont College? 
Prospective students who completed their education in another country must have their transcripts for high school and college/university coursework evaluated by the CREDENTIALS EVALUATION SERVICE. Please contact Grossmont College Admissions and Records Department for more information.

Are there jobs available?
OTA jobs are available throughout the nation.  Health insurance, healthcare, and jobs in healthcare have been fluctuating due to the unknown impact of healthcare reform changes. It is therefore advised that graduates be willing to look in all areas of Occupational Therapy practice for employment and be willing to possibly relocate. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, "Employment of occupational therapy assistants is projected to grow 40 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What are the current salary levels? 

The salary range varies for a newly graduated OTA; however, the starting rate is approximately $22-30 an hour for an entry level position, depending on the facility.

Bureau of Labor and Statistics states:

Are the graduates required to pass a national certification? 
Yes, the graduated needs to pass a National Certification Exam through NBCOT. Additionally, licensure is required by most states. 

What is the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) pass rate of the OTA Certification exam?

Is the OTA Program accredited?

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education(ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4949 and the phone number is 301-652-6611. is the link to their website. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

An Associate in Science Degree in Occupational Therapy. To find out what the G.E. requirements are, you will need to contact the Grossmont College Counseling Department

Are the OTA courses transferable to another college/university?
Yes, however, you should check with the college or university that you are interested in transferring to for course acceptance. There are colleges that offer bridging programs from OTA to OT.  For more information go to  

What is the approximate cost of the program?  Approximately $5,000-$5,800 based on $46/unit college fee, health fees, parking permits, fieldwork site requirements, books, uniforms, and material fees for general education and core courses.   The cost is subject to change per State Legislation. Please check with Financial Aid about options for funding  your education.

Resident Tuition

$46.00 per unit

Books, Clinical Attire, Malpractice Insurance, Fees, Etc.


International Student/Non-Resident  - above fees plus

$290.oo per unit plus fees

Student Representative Fee (Mandatory)


Parking Permit (One Semester)

$40. Spring/Fall and $18 for Summer

Health Fee (Mandatory - Includes Accident Insurance)

$20 Spring/Fall  $17 Summer


Can I work during the program?
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is an intense academic experience.  The program requires flexibility and many hours of study.  Working during the core content of the program is an individual decision that must be made by you while considering your study habits, academic level, experience in health care and life demands.  During your last semester of the OTA Program, you will be in Level II Fieldwork out in the community for 40 hours per week for 20 weeks.   During this time employment is not recommended.

Do I have to complete my general education requirements prior to fieldwork II?
It is required by ACOTE-Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education - that students complete all GE and major requirements prior to fieldwork II - OTA 240 and OTA 241.  Students must complete all level II fieldwork within 18 months following the completion of the core OTA academic preparation.

What is the infection control policy and safety policy of the OTA Program?
The occupational therapy program follows standard precautions and safe procedures when handling patients, simulations and supplies/equipment.

If I exit the OTA Program, can I re-enter the program at a later date?
If you stop taking the OTA course sequence for any reason, this is considered an exit from the program.   An exit from the program requires the student to fill out an exit form within one month of the exit.  Failure to complete the exit process within one month of exit may result in denial of re-entry.  Re-entry applications must be submitted by February 1 for Fall semesters and November 1 for Spring semester.  Re-entry applicants will be notified of testing dates available for course competency testing, skills checklist testing and re-entry interview dates via e-mail.  A failure to pass the re-entry exams and meet the re-entry requirements will count as a second attempt to enter the program.  Re-entry is not guaranteed.  Placement is not guaranteed in the next cohort. Further information is available in the newest student handbook located under the OTA Handbooks tab on the upper left side of this webpage.  ***EFFECTIVE APRIL 2015:  Readmission  - Students who leave the OTA Program in good academic, clinical and professional behavior standing may be readmitted one time, upon recommendation of the OTA Faculty. Students who leave the Program due to academic failure will not be eligible for readmission. Special consideration may be given in extraordinary circumstances and at the discretion of the OTA Faculty and Program Director.

Last Updated: 03/02/2020


Health Professions Specialist
Phone: 619-644-7304

  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
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