Occupational therapists help people overcome difficulties caused by physical or mental illness, disability, accidents or ageing.
Salary range: £24,214 to £43,772
How to become an occupational therapist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
You can do a degree in occupational therapy, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.
You may be able to do a postgraduate conversion course if you’ve got a degree in a related subject like:
- biological science
- health science
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You can do an occupational therapist degree apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
You could start as an occupational therapy support worker. With backing from your employer, you could study for a degree part time to qualify as an occupational therapist.
Volunteering and experience
You’ll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in care or healthcare work before you apply for training.
- you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of psychology
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be flexible and open to change
- knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to use your initiative
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
What you’ll do
Your work could include:
- teaching a patient recovering from a stroke how to do things for themselves
- encouraging someone with depression to take up a hobby or activity
- suggesting ways to adapt an office so that an employee injured in a car accident can return to work
- supporting patients to manage permanent physical disabilities
- helping people with learning disabilities to live independently
- keeping notes about clients’ progress
- advising and supporting clients and their families and carers.
You could work at a client’s home, in an NHS or private hospital, at a client’s business, at a GP practice or at an adult care home.
Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
You could progress to senior clinician or head of occupational therapy services in the NHS. You may also be able to move into general health or social services management.
You could also go into private practice, education or research.