Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
version 7, draft 7

How to Become an Occupational Therapist

Doctor Assisting Senior Patient In Lifting Dumbbell

Occupational therapists help clients perform various activities in spite of their illnesses or injuries. These might include computer use and other daily undertakings such as driving, cooking and dressing. They work in various areas such as hospitals and other health care centers as well as schools and community settings.  This job is ideal for those individuals who are willing to help clients develop, get better and advance the skills they require for their routine work and daily lifestyle.

What do occupational therapists do?

Occupational therapists work with individuals of all ages, some who might have developed difficulties due to ailments, illnesses, ageing, and lifestyle.  Tasks carried out by these professionals vary according to their place of work, commonly found duties include:

  • Helping youngsters when working towards personal developments and career skills
  • Helping the aged regain composure and mindset following occasions such as a stroke
  • Evaluating a clients’ psychosocial and cognitive needs
  • Managing injuries
  • Teaching safety practices
  • Providing support through health conditions such as HIV, surgery, acute mental health and burns
  • Adjusting the work environment to match the individuals’ needs to remove the chance of injury
  • Enhancing clients’ self esteem and confidence in social circumstances
  • Support the administration of medicine when legally permitted


Occupational therapists that commence their profession as allied health specialists in the NHS usually start at Band 5, more information regarding salary variations can be found by visiting NHS Choices and/or Occupational Job Description.

Level of Service

Annual Earnings

Allied Health Professionals

 £21,388 to £27,901

Occupational Therapist Specialist

 £25,783 to  £34,530

Occupational Therapist Advanced

 £30,764 to £40,558

Consultant Occupational Therapist

 £63,000 to £79,000

What skills are required?

The fact that occupational therapists work with a wide range of clients covering a variety of specific needs, it is vital that they understand each client’s desires and lifestyle. This enables them to establish an efficient treatment arrangement for them. Other imperative skills for this occupation include:

  • Active listening to communicate effectively with their clients
  • Proficient reading skills and ability to identify/note vital key points
  • To be aware of other people’s reactions using social perception
  • Time management
  • Monitoring skills to evaluate performance and change
  • Ability to think critically using logic to evaluate weaknesses and strengths, options and solutions
  • Capable to persuade others to change their behavior and influence views
  • Monitoring technical indicators/dials to ensure operational status of medical equipment

Professional Training

The minimum qualification for occupational therapists to hold is a master’s degree in occupational therapy.  In order for these professionals to sit the national certifying exam, they need to secure a secondary degree from an institution recognized by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy. The accredited curriculum requires at least 24 weeks of administered work. Upon graduation, candidates will also need to pass a national test to attain licensure.

Career Prospects

Job openings for occupational therapists are projected to increase to 29% between 2012 and 2022. Proven as a significantly faster growth when compared to the average of other related professions. This profession will continue to play an important role when treating individuals with various ailments and disarrays such as, autism, cerebral palsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a legal obligation that all occupational therapists are registered or licensed. Demand for these professionals can vary with location; as a result job seekers should be prepared to move to secure a position. Furthermore, they can opt to develop their career to serve in senior roles such as teaching or management.

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