Medical person with man in wheelchair

What are OTAs and COTAs?

Wednesday, August 30th, 2023

So many initials … so many credentials. What do they all mean?

At least OTA and COTA are related in that OTA stands for Occupational Therapy Assistant and COTA for a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.

As the title suggests, a COTA/OTA assists an occupational therapist by helping them carry out treatment plans for injured workers and other patients. This healthcare professional typically has a hands-on role, working with injured workers in developing fine motor skills, work reconditioning, and implementing ergonomic modifications. They also help people work through the physical and mental challenges that come with a condition or disorder.

In the US, COTA/OTA candidates must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited occupational therapy assistant school. The curriculum includes behavioral health, anatomy, pathophysiology, movement, and function. COTA/OTAs work with individuals of any age.

They also need to obtain a license in their jurisdiction before they can call themselves OTAs. In most states, OTAs also need to be licensed. COTAs take the extra step of becoming certified in the field. They must successfully complete a national certification exam after registering with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

If you’re curious about a credential or accreditation, let us know. We’ll investigate it. Email