Operating department practitioner

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) support operating theatre staff and provide care to patients at all stages of an operation.

Average salary (a year)

£24,214 Starter


£30,112 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

38 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

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 and dentistry
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • preparing the operating theatre and equipment
  • making sure specialist equipment is available for specific procedures
  • monitoring theatre cleanliness
  • ordering and rotating items of stock and drugs
  • providing the surgical team with the items they need during an operation
  • monitoring instruments
  • keeping accurate records

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. 

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

L3 Access to Higher Education Diploma - Science

  • Start date: 01 September 2020

Science - Access to HE

  • Start date: 22 September 2020
  • Location: LIVERPOOL

JobsIn the United Kingdom

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