Frequently Asked Questions

In order to learn more about the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at CPCC as well as the OTA profession, please review the frequently asked questions below.


Q. Is there a time limit for expiration of BIO 168 and BIO 169?

A. Yes, each class is looked at separately, and each of them must be less than 5 years old at the time of application..

Q. I have taken BIO 168 and 169 or ENG 111 and ENG 112, 113, or 114. Can I use whichever class I got the higher grade in for the points on my application?

A. No, the points on the application are given for ENG 111 and/or BIO 168, not for higher level classes.

Q. I took a different English, Communications, or Biology course at another college or university, and it was accepted as a substitute for ENG 111, BIO 168, or COM 231. Can I get the points for that class on my application?

A. Yes, if the course substitute was approved by the Program Director.

Q. I want to specialize in a certain area of practice (e.g., environmental modifications, pediatrics). How do I find a program with this specialty?

A. All entry-level educational programs prepare you to be a generalist. Specializing in one area of practice would be something you would pursue after you graduate and successfully pass the national certification examination. Many practitioners do select a specialty area of practice. Others change their area of practice throughout their careers. Occupational therapy provides a great deal of career flexibility.

Q. What is fieldwork education?

A. Fieldwork education is a crucial part of your preparation to become an occupational therapy assistant. It provides you an opportunity to carry out practice and other professional responsibilities under supervision and role modeling by an experienced practitioner.

Q. Are there any entry-level occupational therapy assistant educational programs offered online?

A. There are no accredited entry-level occupational therapy assistant educational programs that are offered in the online format. Some educational programs may offer some courses or parts of courses online (see listings under “Distance Education” on the following Web page:, but there are no educational programs offered entirely online.

Q. The application requires that I have observation or volunteer experience. Who do I contact to set this up?

A. It is suggested that you contact local facilities that employ occupational therapists and/or occupational therapy assistants (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, or school systems). You can find these numbers on the internet under Occupational Therapy or Rehabilitation. You can also look for specific settings such as Pediatric Occupational Therapy Clinics. Applicants to the program will need to complete observation experiences totaling at least 12 hours in at least 2 separate environments and with clients from different age groups or conditions. These requests are made quite frequently and you will find most facilities accommodating. Be prepared to discuss your reason for the request and your availability. You are advised to call facilities rather than e-mail them.

Q. What is the difference between an occupational therapy assistant and an occupational therapy aide?

A. An occupational therapy assistant is a graduate of an accredited occupational therapy assistant educational program and is eligible to sit for the national certification examination. Most states regulate occupational therapy assistants. Occupational therapy aides provide supportive services to the occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. Occupational therapy aides usually receive their training on the job and are not eligible for certification or licensure. Occupational therapy aide programs are not accredited by AOTA's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and certification of aides is not required. You can contact the North Carolina Board of Occupational Therapy (NCBOT) to determine what services and regulations apply to occupational therapy aides in North Carolina.

Q. I am currently working in another profession. I am considering occupational therapy as a second career. Is this feasible?

A. A good number of students go back to school to become an occupational therapy assistant. Contact a College Counselor in order to determine what prerequisites you would need to take.

Q. Are night classes or online classes available for the OTA program at CPCC?

A. No, unfortunately we are unable to offer night or online classes as an option in our OTA program. Courses in the OTA program are taught on Central Campus during daytime hours in the week.

Q. How much will I make as an occupational therapy assistant?

A. For the most recent salary information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site at

Q. Where can I find financial aid information?

A. You should first start with CPCC's Financial Aid office. There is limited information available on the AOTA Web site at Students in the OTA program may be eligible for the Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS) program. This program is administered by the NC State Assistance Authority (see FELS program link)

Q. I know that I need to take a national certification exam when I graduate.  Do I have to take this exam in each state that I would like to practice?

A. This is a national exam. Thus, you can take it anywhere it is offered. Your exam results will be reported to the appropriate state regulatory bodies that you have previously indicated. Once you successfully pass the national certification examination, you can apply for a license in any state.

Q. Do I still have to take the TEAS if I already have a previous college degree?

A. Yes, without a TEAS score, the application will not be considered.

Q. Can I start classes in the Fall semester?

A. There is only one admission cycle per year which starts each Spring semester. Applications are accepted in the Fall semester to begin the OTA program in January.

Q. What are the criminal background check and drug screen requirements?

A. Criminal Background Check and Drug screen: All accepted students are required to undergo a criminal background check and drug screen. Procedural information concerning these requirements will be provided upon acceptance.

  • Note: Criminal background checks (CBCs) and drug screens are required by clinical agencies/healthcare systems. If a student is refused access to clinical experiences because of a positive CBC or drug screen, the student will be unable to complete the clinical component of the course. Inability to complete the clinical requirements will result in a failure to progress in the program.

Under North Carolina law some people with criminal backgrounds may be eligible for an expunction to remove charges or convictions from their record. If you would like to know whether or not you are eligible, contact Single Stop at 704.330.2722 ext.: 6435 or email to schedule a legal consultation. To learn more about expunctions, explore the NC Justice Center’s guide.

FAQ’s (some information retrieved from 2.6.12)