Entry requirements and training (occupational therapist)
This page has information on the entry requirements and training needed to become an occupational therapist.
To practise as an occupational therapist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register with the HCPC, you first need to successfully complete an approved degree in occupational therapy. This is usually a BSc (Hons). Courses take three or four years full-time.
If you already have a relevant degree and healthcare experience, you can take a postgraduate Diploma or Masters in occupational therapy. These courses usually take two years.
There are also part-time/in-service courses if you are working in a relevant senior occupational therapy support role and your employer is willing to support you.
Courses differ but all involve a lot of practical work with patients.
To get onto a full-time occupational therapy degree course you usually need two or three A levels, along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and science.
You may also be able to get onto a course with alternative qualifications, including:
- BTEC, HND or HNC which includes biological science
- relevant vocational qualifications
- science-based access course
- equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications
Each institution sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully. Wherever you study, you will need to show that you have an understanding of occupational therapy. It is a good idea to spend some time with a registered occupational therapist to see what the work is like.
Once you’ve successfully completed a programme approved by the HCPC, you are then eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC. Once registered as a practitioner, you’ll be required to retain your name on the register by keeping your knowledge and skills up to date and paying an annual retention fee.
Want to learn more?
- Find occupational therapy courses on our course finder
- Find out more about the role of an occupational therapy support worker
- Skills required Expand / Collapse
You'll need a range of skills to be a occupational therapist including:
- excellent interpersonal and communication skills
- good organisational skills
- patience and enthusiasm
- creative ability to find solutions to problems
- ability to work well within a team