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Operating department practitioner

Alternative titles for this job include

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

Average salary (a year)

£28,000 Starter


£43,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

38 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Operating department practitioner

You can get into this job through a university course or an apprenticeship.


You'll need to study a diploma of higher education which takes 2 years or a degree in operating department practice which takes 3 years. 

The course has to be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

You can do further study to top up your diploma to a degree after you qualify.

Work experience

You'll find it helpful to get some work experience in healthcare before you apply for a course.

NHS Learning Support Fund

During your studies, you might be eligible for financial support from the NHS Learning Support Fund.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

More Information


You could do an Operating Department Practitioner 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

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 more details about how to become an operating department practitioner from 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 medicine and dentistry
  • 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

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

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.

As an operating department practitioner, you could:

  • help patients who are anxious or vulnerable get ready for surgery
  • prepare the operating theatre and make sure drugs and specialist equipment are available
  • monitor instruments and how clean the theatre is
  • provide the surgical team with any items they need during an operation
  • talk to other hospital staff for the surgical team
  • support patients after their operation and assess when they are ready to move 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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you could:

  • progress to team leader or senior operating department practitioner and manage an operating theatre unit
  • move into education, training or research
  • do training approved by the Royal College of Surgeons of England to become a surgical care practitioner
  • train to work as an anaesthesia associate or advanced critical care practitioner

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Operating Department Practitioner (ODP)

  • Wage: £22,383 a year Annually

Courses In England

Access to HE - Science

  • Provider: Harrow, Richmond & Uxbridge Colleges (HRUC)
  • Start date: 16 September 2024
  • Location: Twickenham

Science - Access to HE

  • Start date: 23 September 2024
  • Location: Richmond

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