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Occupational therapist

Occupational therapists help people overcome difficulties caused by physical or mental illness, accidents or ageing.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £21,500 to £41,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need a degree or postgraduate qualification in occupational therapy approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

You could also start as an occupational therapy support worker and complete an in-service degree course leading to state registration.

You'll need background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

You may be able to get NHS funding to pay for your course fees and help with your living expenses.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to design and develop individual treatment programmes
  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to form good working relationships with a wide variety of people

3. What you'll do

You'll adapt treatment programmes to suit each client's needs and lifestyle. Main employers are the NHS and local authority social services. Your work could include:

  • teaching an older patient recovering from a stroke how to do things for themselves
  • encouraging someone suffering with depression to take up a hobby or activity
  • suggesting ways to adapt an office so that an employee injured in a car accident can return to work
  • helping clients adjust to permanent disabilities

You might work with patients for several months or just for a few sessions. You'll often work as part of a team of professionals, including physiotherapists, nurses and social workers. You'll keep notes about clients' progress, and advise and support clients and their families and carers.

4. Salary

Starter: £21,500 to £25,000

Experienced: £26,000 to £34,800

Highly Experienced: £35,000 to £41,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work standard office hours, Monday to Friday.

You could work with clients at a variety of places, including:

  • hospitals
  • health centres
  • residential or nursing homes
  • GP surgeries
  • schools
  • at a client's home or workplace

6. Career path and progression

You could progress to senior clinician or head of occupational therapy services in the NHS. You may also be able to move into general health or social services management.

You could also go into private practice, education or research.

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Last updated: 22 December 2016