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Hayley, Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapist

This is one of the most varied roles in the NHS because you’ll be helping improve the lives of people right across the community. You’ll help people from all walks of life deal with disability, illness, trauma, ageing or a long-term condition.

XS Icon Salary range £24,000+
XS Icon Hours  37.5 hours a week
XS Icon Pattern Highly flexible: working hours are based
on patient needs

ICON XS Circle Receive £5,000 towards your English university degree. Extra funds of up to £3,000 are also available. Learn morePath

Role details

Working as an Occupational Therapist is inspiring, creative, fast-paced and full of variety.

If you’ve ever had a broken arm, then you’ll already know how it can impact your ability to eat, get dressed, wash, and more. Accidents and 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.

You’ll work with other healthcare professionals, each with different levels of skill and experience, as part of a larger, multidisciplinary team. There are also opportunities to become involved in research and education.

Qualities needed


You’re a natural ‘people person’, able to make anyone feel quickly at ease.


You can balance patience with enthusiasm.


You’re creative, and able to think quickly on your feet.


You enjoy teamwork.

“You see that you’ve made a difference… It motivates you to want to help”

Hayley, Occupational Therapist

What makes being an Occupational Therapist special?


Variety and creativity sit at the heart of this role. No two days will be alike.


You could find yourself working with individuals, or groups, and in a variety of settings from hospitals to clinics, charities, social service departments or people’s homes.


You’ll be part of a larger multidisciplinary team, consulting and working with other healthcare professionals with all levels of experience and expertise.


As your experience grows, you could also find yourself supervising occupational therapy support roles.

How to become an Occupational Therapist

To become an Occupational Therapist, you’ll need a degree in occupational therapy. Full and part-time courses are available, and it’s also possible to learn on the job with an Apprenticeship.

Degree Duration

4 years full time

Once you’ve successfully completed your degree you must register with The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practicing.

Entry requirements

  • Two or three A levels
  • Five GCSEs (grades A-C), including science
  • Equivalent qualifications:
    • A BTEC, HND or HNC which includes biological science
    • A relevant NVQ
    • A science-based access course
    • Equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications

Postgraduate Studies

It’s possible to gain a Masters in one to two years after successfully completing your degree.

Application period

There are opportunities to apply throughout the year, with September through to January being the busiest months. During February to October, UCAS Extra and Clearing applications are open, where universities look to fill in any course vacancies.

Keep in mind that individual universities may also set their own deadlines during this period.

Find an Occupational Therapy degree using the UCAS Course FinderPath


For a Degree Apprenticeship, you’ll first need to apply for an apprentice position with a healthcare provider and you will need Level 3 qualifications.

Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn while gaining a qualification. Your employer and the government will pay the tuition fees for your apprenticeship, meaning apprenticeships are not eligible for student finance.

Vacancies can be found on the NHS Jobs websitePath and Find an Apprenticeship websitePath

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Kate, Occupational Therapist