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Occupational therapist

Alternative titles for this job include

Occupational therapists help people who have difficulties caused by physical or mental illness, disability, accidents or ageing.

Average salary (a year)

£28,000 Starter


£50,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

35 to 40 a week

You could work

9am to 5pm

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Occupational therapist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You could do a degree in occupational therapy, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

Courses combine work placements with academic study.

Postgraduate conversion course

You might be able to do a postgraduate conversion course if you've got a degree in a subject like:

  • biological science
  • health science
  • psychology

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information


You could do an Occupational Therapist Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship.

This usually takes 4 years to complete and is a mix of learning on the job and academic study at an approved university.

Entry requirements

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

More Information


You could start as an occupational therapy support worker

With support from your employer, you could study for a degree part time to qualify as an occupational therapist.


You'll find it helpful to get some work experience in healthcare before you apply for jobs or training.

More Information


Career tips

When applying for courses and jobs, you'll be expected to have an understanding of how the NHS values apply in your work.

Further information

You can find out more about careers and training in occupational therapy from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and Health Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As an occupational therapist you could:

  • teach and help clients to live independently
  • help clients with mental illnesses do activities they enjoy
  • support clients to manage permanent physical disabilities
  • suggest ways to adapt an office or home
  • support clients, their families and carers and keep notes about progress

Working environment

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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you could:

  • specialise in an area such as elderly care or services for children
  • go into private practice, education or research
  • do further training and move into more senior or management roles within the NHS
  • work overseas

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Occupational Therapy Apprentice

  • Wage: £23,575 a year Annually
  • Location: Wexham Street, Slough

Courses In England

Access to HE: Health Science Professions

  • Provider: HULL COLLEGE
  • Start date: 03 September 2024
  • Location: Hull

Access To HE - Health Science Professions - Online (Distance Learning)

  • Provider: The Bournemouth and Poole College
  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Not known

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