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COTA Thoughts

COTA Schools and Jobs

Published June 11, 2013 11:38 AM by Tim Banish
 

As the number of schools increase that teach the OTA program, are the graduates able to find jobs? One source I follow says no, but others say they are finding job offers. The one common thread I am finding though is some COTAs are completing three or more interviews before landing a job.

 

I do see changes in Medicare happening, which require more input and supervision from an OTR. At one out-patient job I held in the mid-2000s the OTR had to be present for me to do a treatment with any Medicare patients. If you think about that, why pay the COTA if the OTR has to be there too? Only a large caseload would justify having two people working in a clinic at the same time.

 

There has been a big increase in the number of schools out there teaching the OTA program. Maybe ten years ago that would have supplemented the shortage, but it appears that today there are too many OTAs graduating. With many long term care facilities seeing a decrease in patients, that can only mean fewer jobs, and fewer hours.

 

Florida and Texas have always been the two states where a COTA could find a job easily. In one forum I follow there are several COTAs complaining of no jobs in their part of the state. There are others saying their hours have been cut and they are now working two jobs, one full-time (or as many hours as they get) and a PRN job. With some COTAs picking up on extra work that also spells fewer opportunities for others.

 

As mentioned, I see some COTAs with years of experience say they have to complete several interviews before landing a job. In years past I've had jobs end suddenly because of a contract dispute, and within days had a new position. One time I had a job within hours of being told we were out. I know different areas of the country will have more jobs, but from what I'm finding there seems to be more competition for every job.

 

I know lots of people enter the profession for the pay. It does pay well, once you have some experience behind you. New grads seem to be starting out around $18-22 hour, experienced COTAs report earning anywhere from $25 to $40 an hour depending on their field. However, the ones who say they are earning $40 an hour are probably in home health, and you'll have to consider expenses. Vehicle maintenance and gas will most assuredly cut into that, as well as the time spent completing notes and other paperwork.

 

Whatever you do before searching a position, have a good resume with all your experience listed. Keep it concise but make yourself stand out from the competition. Ask about hours, benefits, and all the other things you need to know before signing on the dotted line. My last thought is to beware of sign on bonuses, if you find you don't like the place and leave before the agreed upon period that bonus has to be returned.

 

Until next time, hope all your "Thoughts" are Good-

                                                                                                                Tim

12 comments

I have been watching the industry closely for the last two years. Seems the trend is turning to Home Health and away from SNF's. Just for fun this week, I called about a dozen rehab companies and they all said they either had PRN only or nothing at all due to falling caseloads. This is a huge difference compared to five years ago where jobs were everywhere. Too many people have jumped on the bandwagon, and now the field is saturated.

Davey , Home Health - COTA/L November 12, 2015 6:58 PM
Austin TX

Thank you everyone for your comments. Maybe we should form a support group. LOL. I've been looking for work 4 months & was the primary breadwinner. Unemployment has been less than a third of salary. I've worked w/at least 9 different recruiters. Finally realized many just post positions to get your info on file. Had 2 interviews but w/10 years experience I honestly think for many it's a negative since they can get new grads @ least $10/hr less. I too am thinking outside the box since nothing in SC. Very sad day for COTA's.

Susan , COTA October 22, 2015 10:56 AM
SC

I have been a COTA for 25 years in the KC area.  The past two years have been a nightmare in finding full time work.  I am a single mom, and what few jobs are out there are offered to new grads for a cheaper salary.  I feel sorry for the new grads coming out of too many teaching colleges in our area.  Don't expect to stay in KC.  I am nine years from paying my home off and now I am struggling to find full time employment and meeting my bills.  Some weeks its unemployment and I haven't had medical insurance for two years. It's a very very sad day for many COTA's.

Lora , COTA/L September 21, 2015 3:13 PM
Kansas City MO

Like Tim, I have been a COTA for a long time. Before PPS, there were jobs galore, now, they are no where to be found except PRN or Full-Time which ends up being only 20 to 30 hours a week. Rarely do I see 40 hours a week. It seems they are willing to put two or three OTR's in a building with one COTA. They fear they will lose the OTR and will have no one to do the evals. So this has become many companies security blanket. This is also what I have been hearing from recruiters too.

Rick, COTA/L May 23, 2014 6:10 PM

I have been a COTA for 10 years and I find that it is increasingly difficult to find a full time position.  I moved from VA to FL and since I have lived in Jax, FL I have not worked full time.  I have been trying to find a stable position for over 3 years.  I am thinking of leaving the profession and just use my COTA experience for prn work only.  In Jax there are about 3-4 OTA schools here.  With my experience and pay rate I can not even get my foot in a door.  It is so frustrating. I do not see the situation getting much better.  People are preferring to stay home and out of the LTC (which is my favorite setting) and this cuts back on the job opportunities.  

Tawana , Occupational Therapy - COTA/L April 21, 2014 6:50 PM
Jacksonville FL

I have been a COTA for 10 years and I would agree that the field is not the same as it once was. Definitely changed after jan 1st.  Quality of care is not important.  It's how much can we bill for!  I'm so sick of it.  I have looked into moving and getting out of the field, but it am finding it hard to find other jobs.  I am only qualified for therapy and nothing else. Heck I can't even get a website evaluator job because I don't have the right credentials or exp and that's only a part time job at best!  What else can a therapy assistant do?

Nicole April 6, 2014 5:55 PM
TX

I've been a COTA for 20 years and there are NO jobs now!  I've been laid off, cut back, told "that's the business so put up with it".  I'm a single mom and NEED to work!  I'm really considering leaving the field completely because it's not what it used to be.  There is fraud and cut throats out there just to get hours.  Good luck to all of you.  My advice is if you're in school now...change your major!

jackie December 3, 2013 2:41 PM

Thank-you Tim for the years of input. After leaving AZ, I worked feverishly to land another UE outpatient job in WA area, none, zero. I stress, the ONLY positions available were in SNF's. My area of expertise became a bust for reasons I still don't fully understand to this day. A placement agency found two days of work at a hand clinic in an entire year. Obviously I let the business go, not because I wanted too. I miss the work to this day but the choice was made for me through lack of opportunity. I still don't believe it happened but it did. I can say in my experience OTR's seemed to become less accepting, trusting and pleasant in general over the years. I assume their world was changing as well and we all know the stuff runs down hill. Something clearly changed in the system and I attribute it to what occurred with our economy. I wish I could at least sweep floors in a clinic but clinics are now dominated by PT and when they find out I was a COTA, I am kindly (not always) given the brush off. Nothing is as it used to be. Maybe I can get a $15 hr. job at Mc's?  Thanks again.

Gary, UE-hand/shoulder - -, - August 30, 2013 8:13 PM
Bremerton WA

I have had a very hard time finding work in my area. I work PRN for a place that is over an hour away 4-5 days a week for 4-5 hours then drive back home to work a 2nd shift factory type job. I need the full time job for the benefits and insurance. Not to mention the fact that I can't live on a "maybe we will need you, maybe not" job. I am my only source of income plus I am a single mother. It is very hard and I am exhausted. I don't know how long I can keep doing this

Adrienne , Snf - Cota/l August 4, 2013 1:01 AM
Dubois PA

I have been a COTA for quite awhile now and I am seriously looking at leaving the field for awhile due to lack of jobs in my area. I live in Kansas City and there are no jobs here. The market is terrible. I have a PRN job which is Saturdays only. I am very frustrated and angry. We are in the process of leaving the KC area and heading to Texas with my husbands company. Thankfully they have jobs. Once there,I am going to look into the COTA to OTR bridge program. Therapy jobs in KC are so scares that I am looking at taking an office job just to make ends meet. We won't head South until next  Summer. I had a great job for six years in a school district and it was cut due to budget issues. I love being COTA but not in KC. Dont come here because there aren't jobs and its not only COTAs that are having trouble find work it's all areas of therapy. I have several of my classmates that have left the state due to lack of work and those that were unable to leave have left the profession all together. My heart goes out to the new grads. I hope they can find work!

Megan , COTA July 24, 2013 9:23 PM
Kansas City KS

You are right Don, lots of jobs but few offer full time hours. We are always at the mercy of the admit department. In one place where beds were always full the admit person left. New person did not know the job and in a month we were half empty. Needless to say many of the staff left.

Tim Banish, COTA/L, Retired June 19, 2013 1:58 PM
Cincinnati OH

From my experience there are jobs out the but they are all part time even if they list them as full time due to low census or over hiring. I have worked at SNF's and hospitals with both about the same with an average of 20-30 hours per week. On a rare occasion will I get up to 32-35 hours per week.

I love my work but what good is higher pay per hour if the hours are not there?

Don, Rehab - COTA, Hospital June 18, 2013 2:34 PM
WA

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