Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Occupational Therapy Assistant

“Is the BPCC OTA Program Accredited? Why is that important?”

The BPCC Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)Will open new browser window or tab of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA),Will open new browser window or tab The certifying agency is the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc.Will open new browser window or tab After successful completion of the NBCOT exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. It is important to know your school’s accreditation status because students must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited program to be eligible to sit for the NBCOT certification examination.

“Are OTAs required to sit for a licensure/certification examination? How do your graduates do on the national OTA licensure examination?”

After completion of the OTA program, graduates are required to take and pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy ExaminationWill open new browser window or tab to be eligible to apply for a licenseWill open new browser window or tab to practice as an OTA in the state of Louisiana.

“I live outside the Shreveport-Bossier City area. May I still apply to your Program?”

Absolutely. While the majority of our applicants and clinical students live and plan to work in this area, we encourage and are in fact actively recruiting students from other regions of the state. Job availability and salaries continue to grow in those communities not served by a local OT or OTA program and we receive frequent calls from rural hospitals and clinics seeking OTA graduates. If you are from out of town and are interested in pursuing an OTA degree from BPCC you are encouraged to contact an OTA advisor for additional information and to request a personalized transcript review.

“What kind of salaries do OTAs make?”

The job market and salaries in the Shreveport-Bossier City area are very good (starting salaries range from $35,000 to $45,000 per year). The available jobs and salary ranges in more “rural” areas outside Shreveport-Bossier City tend to be even higher.

More information on the job descriptions, job outlook and salaries for OTAs can be found on the website for the Bureau of Labor StatisticsWill open new browser window or tab website.

“I don’t currently live in the Shreveport-Bossier City area. Would I have to move to Bossier City to complete this degree?”

The majority of the pre-OTA curriculum (qualification courses)Will open new browser window or tab for this Program may be completed at any accredited 4-year university or community college (near your home). In addition, the scheduled clinical practice experiences/“fieldwork” that occur during the program component (final year) (each 8 weeks in length) may be scheduled in hospitals/OT clinics in or near your hometown. Your required time in Bossier would include:

  • A summer semester for didactic (class/lab) OTA program courses (OCTA 200 and 201)
  • A fall semester for didactic (class/lab) OTA program curriculum (OCTA 203-OCTA 208). Courses during the fall semester meet 5 days a week.
  • A spring semester for didactic (class/lab) OTA program curriculum (OCTA 210 – OCTA 218). Courses during the spring semester meet 5 days a week.

“I already have a degree (Associate/Bachelor’s/Master’s). Am I ready for application to the OTA program?”

While it is likely that within your degree you have taken some or even most of the pre-requisite course requirements, there is a strong possibility that you may be lacking one or more of the required classes. You should request that an OTA advisor review your transcript and help you identify what may be missing. Additionally, if a significant amount of time has passed since the completion of your degree, your advisor may recommend re-taking or auditing particular courses so that your knowledge in that content is current.

“What factors are considered in the selection process for the OTA Program?”

The selection process for the OTA professional program is based 50% on academic criteria and 50% on non-academic criteria. Those factors include:

Academic Factors

  • Non-science pre-OTA coursework grades
  • Cumulative science pre-OTA coursework grades

Non-academic Factors

  • clinical observation rating form scores (completed by the OTs or OTAs you observed)
  • interview score
  • essay

“How many students do you accept each year into the OTA Program? How many people usually apply for the OTA Program each year?”

We accept a maximum of 20 students per year into the OTA Program.

“What do I do if I am not selected for the OTA program?”

We encourage any applicant not selected for the OTA program to meet with an OTA advisor to review strengths/weaknesses of their application packet. Options for students not selected include (a) pursuing another allied health program at BPCC (b) working on improving an application score with re-application to the OTA program the following year (c) working toward completion of a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field or (d) investigating OTA Program application at another institution.Will open new browser window or tab

“How much does the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program cost?”

The pre-OTA component (qualification courses) of the program has only those costs associated with regular tuition per credit hour which is the same for all BPCC students. Once accepted into the OTA program there are additional costs related to clinical fees, uniforms, immunizations, etc.

“Where can I get more information on financial aid, scholarships, grants and/or loans to help pay for the cost of school?”

You can find out about resources available through BPCC at the Financial Aid Scholarship page, and resources available through the American Occupational Therapy Association.Will open new browser window or tab

“What is the difference between an OT and an OTA?”

Occupational Therapist Occupational Therapist Assistant
Education Education
Master of Occupational Therapy (a Graduate School Degree) Associate Degree
Starting Salary Starting Salary
approximately $60,000 in Shreveport, LA approximately $35,000 – $45,000 in Shreveport, LA
Responsibilities Responsibilities
Evaluate patients
Develop plan of care to improve patients’ functional abilities.
Treat patients
Collaborating with the OT in gathering data, planning goals and strategies, implementing treatment programs according to the plan of care, reporting to the OT on patient’s response, and documenting patient treatment and response; works under supervision of an occupational therapist
Patient Conditions Treated Patient Conditions Treated
Spinal Cord Injury
Sports Injuries
Back Injuries
Work-related Injuries
Neurological Disorders
Heart Attacks
Following Surgery
Physical Trauma
Same as Occupational Therapist
Work Place Work Place
Nursing Homes
Home Health Agencies
Private Practices
School Systems
Same as Occupational Therapist
Requires Licensure Exam To Work Requires Licensure Exam To Work
Yes Yes
Area Schools That Offer Training Schools That Offer Training
LSUHSC Shreveport, LAWill open new browser window or tab
LSUHSC New Orleans, LAWill open new browser window or tab
ULM Bridge Program Monroe, LAWill open new browser window or tab
Bossier Parish Community College
Delgado Community College (New Orleans, LA)Will open new browser window or tab
South Arkansas Community College (El Dorado, AR)Will open new browser window or tab
Panola Junior College (Carthage, TX)Will open new browser window or tab

“Can becoming an OTA help me to eventually become an Occupational Therapist?”

Two tracks are available to become an OT.

  1. A student may complete a graduate school level program in Occupational Therapy. In Louisiana, there are 2 institutions which offer that degree program – LSU Health Sciences Center in ShreveportWill open new browser window or tab and LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.Will open new browser window or tab Acceptance into the OT Programs in Louisiana is on a selective/competitive basis. In order to apply for admission to those programs, you must first obtain a Baccalaureate Degree. Additionally, that B.S. degree must include all of the pre-requisite (pre-OT) courses required by the respective programs. For a more complete description of the pre-requisite requirements and application/selection process utilized by those programs we encourage you to review the website of the LSUHSC OT Program in Shreveport and/or New Orleans, and contact those faculty advisors/instructors with questions. Obtaining an Associate Degree in OTA first is not necessary. Please be aware that the OTA Program at Bossier Parish Community College and the OT Program at LSUHSC are in no way linked or affiliated. Additionally, please be aware that graduates of the BPCC OTA Program are not given preference in the selection process for the LSUHSC OT Program.
  2. While completing an Associate Degree in OTA is not the most typical “route” to take in pursuing a degree in Occupational Therapy, it is one option. OTA to MOT Bridge programs are available to Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants. The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an OTA to MOT Bridge Program which is a 2.5 year combination onsite/online program. Applicants must be a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) with a minimum of one year experience or 1000 hours as a practicing COTA, have obtained a bachelor’s degree, and have met the pre-requisites prior to applying. For more information, please review the website ULM OTA to MOT Bridge Program,Will open new browser window or tab and contact the ULM MOT advisors.

“I want to pursue this degree. What do I need to do first?”

  1. Contact an OTA advisor to answer any questions related to the Program and request a transcript review. While you are welcome to call, the most efficient way to correspond and receive responses is by e-mail.
  2. Complete an online application or contact the Admissions Office for assistance (318-678-6004).  Be sure to select OTA as your major.
  3. The Academic Bulletin/Schedule of Classes is available online. The academic bulletin will contain all the important dates for the semester as well as courses that will be offered during the semester.  It will also include registration dates and times.
  4. Request information on financial aid by visiting the Financial Aid Office on the main campus, or by calling 678-6000. Be aware that if you do not qualify for financial aid, you may still request a deferment of fees, which allows you to pay tuition in parts rather than all at once.