How to become an operating department practitioner

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship


You'll need to study a two-year diploma of higher education or three-year degree in operating department practice approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can top up your diploma to a degree after qualifying if you want.

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in the health or care sector before you apply for a course.

You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

As well as a student loan, you may be eligible for the NHS Learning Support Fund, which helps with hardship, travel and childcare costs.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information


You can get into this role through a degree apprenticeship as an operating department practitioner.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information

More Information


Further information

Health Careers has further details about this career and training options.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of medicine
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of biology
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You'll support patients of all ages, in the anaesthetic, surgery and recovery phases of an operation.

You will:

  • help patients who may be anxious or vulnerable, to get ready for surgery
  • prepare the operating theatre
  • make sure drugs and specialist equipment are available
  • monitor theatre cleanliness
  • provide the surgical team with the items they need during an operation
  • monitor instruments and use medical equipment and devices
  • communicate on behalf of the surgical team with other hospital staff
  • support and monitor patients in the recovery unit as they come round from surgery
  • assess when they are ready to go on to a ward

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital.

Your working environment may be hot and physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience, you may be able to progress to team leader or senior ODP and manage an operating theatre unit.

You could also move into education, training and research.

Some ODPs take further training approved by the Royal College of Surgeons to work as surgical care practitioners. This would give you the skills to complete some surgical procedures, under the supervision of a consultant surgeon.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an operating department practitioner right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Science - Access to HE

  • Start date: 22 September 2020
  • Location: LIVERPOOL


  • Start date: 30 September 2020
  • Location: HARTLEPOOL

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

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