Occupational therapist

As an occupational therapist, you’ll help people who have difficulties carrying out day-to-day activities because of a disability, illness, trauma, ageing, and a range of long-term conditions.

Working life

Accidents, illness, disability, mental health issues and ageing affect millions of people, making it harder for them to do everyday things, along with activities they enjoy. As an occupational therapist, you’ll help all kinds of people overcome all kinds of challenges, so they can live as fully and independently as possible. This might involve learning new ways to do things, or making changes to their environment to make things easier.

In the role, you could help:

  • someone adapt to life after major surgery.
  • people with mental illnesses or learning disabilities with everyday activities such as work or volunteering.
  • elderly people stay in their own homes by providing adaptations such as level access showers or stair lifts.

You'll find solutions to everyday problems, such as:

  • advising on how to approach a task differently.
  • using equipment or assistive technology.
  • adapting the living or working environment.
  • finding strategies to meet your patient’s goals.

As well as working with individual patients and their families, you could also work with groups, or as part of a multidisciplinary team in hospitals, clinics, charities, prisons and social services departments.

Real-life story - Rachel Rule

Occupational therapy student
Occupational therapy allows you to make a difference to people’s lives across the community which is something that really appeals to me about the career.

Entry requirements

To become an occupational therapist, you’ll need a degree in occupational therapy, which usually takes three years full time or up to six years part time. In postgraduate studies, it’s possible to gain a Masters degree in one to two years.  Once you’ve successfully completed your degree, you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practising. The other option is to apply for an apprenticeship degree.

Entry requirements for an undergraduate course are typically:

  • two or three A levels
  • five GCSEs (grades 9-4/A-C), including science.

 Or equivalent qualifications:

  •  a BTEC, HND or HNC, including biological science
  • a relevant NVQ
  • a science-based access course
  • equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications.

When applying for a occupational therapy degree, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.

Annual payments

 If you're eligible, you’ll receive at least £5,000 a year to help fund your studies while at university. Your personal circumstances may mean you could receive more. And the good news? You'll never have to pay it back. Find out more.

 Degree apprenticeship

There are a growing number of degree apprenticeships. Apprenticeships give you the chance to earn a living while gaining your qualification. Your employer and the government will pay the tuition fees, so apprenticeships aren’t eligible for student grants.

Must-have skills

 Don’t forget – academic qualifications aren't everything.  You’ll need to be a natural ‘people person’ who is able to make anyone feel quickly at ease. Creativity and the ability to balance patience with enthusiasm is also needed.  You’ll need to enjoy teamwork and be able to think quickly on your feet too.

Training and career development

Once you’ve qualified, you’ll have annual Continuing Professional Development (CPD) check-ins, where we’ll discuss your career aspirations and plan how we can help you to achieve them, so you’re always moving forward. You’ll be encouraged to join the Royal College of Occupational Therapists where you’ll gain professional indemnity coverage and a trade union membership.

You’ll also be able to specialise in areas such as elderly care or paediatrics. You could move into research or education, and there are opportunities overseas. Or with experience, further qualifications and training, you could apply for more specialist and senior posts. 

Pay and benefits

Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours with the need to work flexibly over a seven day period. As an occupational therapist, you’ll be paid on the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system, typically starting on band 5.

You’ll also have access to our generous pension scheme and health service discounts, as well as 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.

  • Displaying 1 - 5 of 79 matches

    Occupational Therapy with Foundation Year

    University of Wolverhampton

    View course Opens in a new window
    • Qualification
      Bachelor of Science (with Honours) - BSc (Hons)
      Study mode
      Full-time
      Duration of the course
      4 Years
      Leading to a career in
      Occupational Therapy
    • Contact details
      [email protected]
      08009533222
    • Region
      West Midlands
      Admissions address
      Admissions Unit
      Camp Street
      Wolverhampton
      WV1 1AD
      United Kingdom

    Occupational Therapy

    Teesside University, Middlesbrough

    View course Opens in a new window
    • Qualification
      Bachelor of Science (with Honours) - BSc (Hons)
      Study mode
      Full-time
      Duration of the course
      3 Years
      Leading to a career in
      Occupational Therapy
    • Contact details
      [email protected]
    • Region
      North East
      Admissions address
      Borough Road
      Middlesbrough
      TS1 3BX
      United Kingdom

    Occupational Therapy

    Ulster University

    View course Opens in a new window
    • Qualification
      Bachelor of Science (with Honours) - BSc (Hons)
      Study mode
      Full-time
      Duration of the course
      3 Years
      Leading to a career in
      Occupational Therapy
    • Contact details
      [email protected]
      028 7012 4221
    • Region
      Northern Ireland
      Admissions address
      Shore Road
      Newtownabbey
      BT37 0QB
      United Kingdom

    Occupational Therapy

    Oxford Brookes University

    View course Opens in a new window
    • Qualification
      Bachelor of Science (with Honours) - BSc (Hons)
      Study mode
      Full-time
      Duration of the course
      3 Years
      Leading to a career in
      Occupational Therapy
    • Contact details
      [email protected]
      01865 483040
    • Region
      South East
      Admissions address
      Gipsy Lane
      Oxford
      OX3 0BP
      United Kingdom

    Occupational Therapy

    Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

    View course Opens in a new window
    • Qualification
      Masters in Occupational Therapy - MOccTh
      Study mode
      Full-time
      Duration of the course
      4 Years
      Leading to a career in
      Occupational Therapy
    • Contact details
      [email protected]
      0131 474 0000
    • Region
      Scotland
      Admissions address
      Queen Margaret University
      Edinburgh
      EH21 6UU
      United Kingdom

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