A student assesses the leg of another student who is sitting in a wheelchair

Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree, AAS

Help patients achieve independence and enjoy life to its fullest. As an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), you'll work with people to improve their quality of life after an injury or because of a disability. With the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant, you'll learn to assist people from newborns to the elderly with our two-year degree. You'll also get hands-on experience throughout all the courses in the program. Make a difference in people's lives with SJC's accredited OTA program.

Why Enroll in an Occupational Therapy Assistant Program?

Occupational therapy is all about empowering individuals. This rewarding healthcare field uses creativity to help patients build or regain skills.

As an occupational therapy assistant, you will focus on what is meaningful to your patients and help them to find solutions so they can return to their daily lives. Learn about (or create!) different tools and techniques to assist people in gaining independence and self-sufficiency. Through your work, you'll help patients find ways to do the things they need or want to do, such as dressing, cooking, or driving.

Graduates of an accredited OTA program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant. This exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After passing this examination, graduates are eligible for state licensure.

Why Take San Juan College's Accredited OTA Program?

High Graduation and Certification Exam Pass Rate

Our Occupational Therapy Assistant AAS program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The designation recognizes our high educational standards that lead to student success.

In 2021, 94% of our students graduated from the OTA program, and 88% of them passed the NBCOT examination. We are proud of our record of preparing students for this important career.

Experiential Learning

Apply your skills with real-world experience in a collaborative and creative environment. Activities include:

  • Collaborating with University of New Mexico OT students to increase knowledge and skills
  • Adapting toys for children with disabilities in our community
  • Assessing the strength and balance of participants at Bonnie Dallas Senior Center
  • Assisting at Carrie Tingley Hospital's Camp Adventure summer camp
  • Hosting an annual CarFit event to increase driver safety
  • Completing four fieldwork rotations throughout the program to apply knowledge and skills

Supportive Environment

Our OTA program has a strong sense of caring and community among faculty and students. Our small class sizes mean you will get individual attention and mentorship. Our staff and instructors will make sure you stay on track to graduate. Our family-style support creates a close-knit environment where you will thrive.

Affordable Accredited OTA Program

Because of SJC's low tuition rates, the Occupational Therapy Assistant AAS is an excellent investment for you. Study with our expert faculty and get real-world experience that will prepare you for your career. Learn more about our OTA program tuition.

You may also qualify to get your degree tuition-free through the NM Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships

What You'll Learn in Our OTA Program

Get the knowledge and experience you need to be an occupational therapy assistant in two years. SJC's accredited OTA program provides classroom and firsthand learning so you can succeed in your new career.

In your courses, you will learn:

  • Assessment procedures
  • Effects of disease and disability
  • Fundamentals of human behavior, growth, and development
  • Mobility and transfer training
  • Rehabilitation and recovery techniques and treatments
  • Patient interaction and communication skills
  • Professionalism
  • Proper documentation processes

You'll also take four fieldwork courses in which you will gain real-world experience. Become an effective and compassionate occupational therapy assistant by completing our program.

Curriculum for Occupational Therapy Assistant AAS

Transfer Options

If you wish to transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor's degree, we strongly encourage you to meet with your academic advisor.

Previous SJC OTA students have transferred to:

Learn More About the Transfer Process

Careers and Outcomes

As an OTA, you'll help people develop and maintain the skills they need to live fulfilling lives. This is a rewarding career that is seeing large growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of occupational therapy assistants is projected to grow 25% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As an OTA, you'll work with patients of all ages, from children with developmental disabilities to elderly patients in nursing homes. You may also help patients in hospitals as they recover from illnesses or injuries. You'll practice under the supervision of occupational therapists to develop and carry out treatment plans.

Graduates from our program work in the following:

  • Early intervention programs
  • Hospitals
  • Pediatric and adult outpatient clinics
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • School settings
  • Skilled nursing facilities

Employers of San Juan College OTA program graduates include:

  • Local nursing homes:
    • Cedar Ridge Inn
    • Life Care Center of Farmington
    • San Juan Center
    • Welbrook Senior Living
  • Local school districts
    • Aztec Municipal Schools
    • Central Consolidated Schools
    • Farmington Municipal Schools
    • San Juan BOCES
  • San Juan Regional Medical Center

Accredited OTA Program

The San Juan College Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The AOTA is located at:

6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200
North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929
(301) 652-6611

San Juan College OTA Program Graduation Rate and NBCOT Pass Rate

Graduation Year Students Entering Program Students Graduating Program Graduation Rate
2021 16 15 94%
2022 16 14 87%
2023 9 6 67%
Totals 41 35 83%

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy can be found online.

National Certification Examination

After completing the OTA program at San Juan College, you can take the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant. This exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

After successful completion of this exam, you will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states, including New Mexico, require licensure in order to practice. Many state licenses are based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

For information about NBCOT, contact:

12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150

For information about New Mexico's Board of Examiners for Occupational Therapy, contact:

New Mexico's Board of Examiners for Occupational Therapy
Toney Anaya Building
2550 Cerrillos Road, Second Floor
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Admission Requirements

The OTA program at San Juan College is highly selective. It has admission requirements, such as minimum GPA and letters of recommendation. Visit our Admissions to the OTA Program page for more information.

How to Apply

Before applying, make sure you meet all of the minimum eligibility requirements listed on the Admissions to the OTA Program page.

  1. Apply to San Juan College.
  2. Contact the OTA program to discuss your eligibility at ota@sanjuancollege.edu or (505) 566-3849.
  3. Complete Prerequisites and General Education courses and other outlined selection criteria requirements.
  4. Download, complete, and submit the OTA application to ota@sanjuancollege.edu

Next Steps

Set up an appointment with the San Juan College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. We will review your unofficial transcripts from each college and university to make sure you qualify. Contact the SJC OTA Program at (505) 566-3849 or ota@sanjuancollege.edu.

To apply to the Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant, you must first apply to San Juan College. Be ready to send all official transcripts.

Apply Now

Download, complete, and submit the OTA application to ota@sanjuancollege.edu. The application deadline is Thursday, May 18, 2023, at 5 p.m.

Download and Submit Your Application


Phone: (505) 566-3320

West Classroom Complex,
Room 1911

M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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