OT as a Career

Occupational therapists work with people facing physical, mental and social disabilities to help them do the things they want to do

Occupational therapy is a challenging and dynamic profession which makes a valuable difference in people's lives


Occupation includes all daily activities such as making a hot drink, using public transport and socialising 

Imagine what it would be like if you couldn't get out of bed unassisted or because of injury couldn't lift a kettle. Our daily activities give us a sense of identity and purpose. If an individual is unable to do what is important to them, their health and well-being can suffer.

Occupational therapists work in partnership with people to develop practical strategies to overcome barriers to their independence.


Using people's goals to enable their independence

Occupational therapists use a range of strategies and specialist equipment to enable people to reach their goals. This could involve enabling someone to shop or cook unassisted, or helping a person return to work after a physical or mental illness.


Occupational therapists work in a very broad range of fields and settings

Occupational therapists work in many different roles and settings. The scope of occupational therapy ranges from infancy to old age, and occupational therapists can work in fields such as social care, mental health, work rehabilitation and neurology. Work settings include people's homes, work environments, prisons and hospitals.

The occupational therapy role provides variety, flexibility and immense job satisfaction. As a qualified occupational therapist you can choose to work in a variety of different roles throughout your career, such as a clinical practitioner, manager, consultant, lecturer, researcher or you can run your own business.


Answer these three questions to find out if occupational therapy might be the career for you:

  1. Do you enjoy helping people and solving problems?
  2. Are you patient, practical, creative and a good communicator?
  3. Do you want to help people optimise their quality of life?

You can also enjoy a career as an OT support worker

OT support staff - assistants, technicians or support workers - usually start with little or no formal training. Training often happens on the job, but there are also formal qualifications available.
You will definitely need a range of essential skills, such as:
  • good written and verbal communication
  • self-management
  • a great capacity to work with a variety of people
Some support workers work exclusively within occupational therapy, whilst some work as generic staff with a number of professions like nursing and physiotherapy.

Occupational therapy support staff work in the same places as occupational therapists, with varying levels of independence and responsibility based on experience and the service needs.


The interest in these posts is very strong, so applications can be competitive. Be sure to check with the employer about what skills and experience might give you a better chance of employment.




There are a wide range of job roles, settings, specialisms and fields in occupational therapy, with salaries starting from £20,000

With demand for occupational therapy services both in the UK and abroad, there are significant job opportunities, and the profession can offer a rewarding career.
Traditionally the majority of BAOT members work in the National Health Service (NHS) but increasingly qualified occupational therapists have found exciting opportunities in other work settings, and we expect this trend to continue.

You can also decide whether you want to work for someone else or for yourself, in the community, in a hospital, or in a university educating future occupational therapists.


Occupational therapy jobs exist in a number of settings, including:

  • charities and voluntary agencies
  • commercial and industrial organisations
  • disabled living centres
  • equipment companies
  • government agencies
  • housing departments
  • local community services
  • NHS and private hospitals
  • private practice
  • schools, colleges and universities
  • social services and social work departments
  • wheelchair services
  • hostels for the homeless
  • residential care homes

Qualified occupational therapists working in the NHS start with an average salary of about £20,000, rising for more experienced and consultant occupational therapists to around £40-50,000

Local government salaries tend to be pitched around the same level, although they are set by individual employers so can vary significantly.
Earnings are similar in the private, voluntary and charitable sectors. In addition, occupational therapists working in London can receive London weighting of around £5,500.
The average hours of work are 35-37.5 hours per week. There are an increasing number of posts that cover evenings and weekends, particularly in mental health community services, acute hospitals, accident and emergency services and private practice.

The short films below will help you find out what a rewarding career you could have as an occupational therapist, helping people to live life their way


Watch our videos: