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One career, lots of destinations

One of the things that makes occupational therapy such a rewarding career is the sheer variety on offer – you’ll have the chance to work with all sorts of people and organisations, in a wide range of environments. You can also choose to work for yourself.


Diverse challenges, inspiring outcomes

Sometimes illness, disability, getting older or even a change in personal living circumstances can make it difficult for people to carry out their normal routines and enjoy their favourite activities. By analysing these activities, drawing on their clinical reasoning skills and using evidence-based practices, occupational therapists come up with the best treatment plan for each individual.

The ultimate aim is to help people who are facing physical and mental barriers to lead fulfilling lives and achieve their full potential. And that’s what makes this such a rewarding profession. Sometimes even the smallest of changes can make an enormous difference to someone’s quality of life, their mental wellbeing and their happiness. This really is a feel-good profession, in every sense.


A career that’s what you make it

As an occupational therapist, you can work in lots of areas with all sorts of different people. As your career develops, you might decide to specialise in a particular area, such as supporting people who’ve had strokes and brain injuries, or those who have learning disabilities. You might want to help people stay in or return to work, or provide advice in personal injury cases.

And you don’t need to stay within the same specialism throughout your career. As your interests change, so can your job role. In fact, occupational therapy gives you the opportunity to experience many careers in one.


What your career could look like

What will I be doing?

As an occupational therapist, you can have a profound and positive impact on the lives of people from all walks of life and of all ages. You could be supporting anyone from babies (even before they’re born) through to working-age adults and older members of the community. Put simply, if someone is having difficulties undertaking the activities they need or want to do, occupational therapists work with them to find the best ways forward.

Who will I help?

Children and young people: You could help babies, infants, children and young people to grow, learn, have fun, socialise and play so they can develop, thrive and reach their full potential.

People with physical disabilities: You could help people with physical disabilities to carry out their daily activities and pursue their interests. This could involve making changes in their homes or providing support for those using prosthetics, for example.

People with learning disabilities: You might be supporting people with all types of learning disabilities to help them live as independently as possible.

People with mental health issues: You could help people to develop a personally satisfying routine of everyday activities that creates a sense of purpose and enhances the recovery journey.

Older people: You could have a crucial role to play in enabling older people to retain their independence, remain in their own homes and continue doing the daily activities that maintain their health and wellbeing.

Where could I work?

This is a career that could see you working in a range of interesting and rewarding environments, including hospitals, community health settings, GP surgeries, care homes, prisons, schools, universities, offices and other workplaces, local authorities and charities. It gives you the opportunity to work alongside colleagues from all kinds of other professions, from doctors and nurses to teachers and parole officers. Whatever path you follow, you’ll find opportunities aren’t limited to the UK. Occupational therapists are in demand around the world.

What opportunities are there to progress?

As an occupational therapist, there are countless career paths you can take. You could move into research or into an academic role, for example, helping the next generation of occupational therapists to get off to a great start. Or you might decide to open your own practice and work for yourself.

What could I earn?

The average starting salary for an HCPC-registered occupational therapist working in the UK is around £20,000. More experienced occupational therapists can earn around £39,000, and consultant therapists can earn up to £79,000. The potential to run your own business in occupational therapy opens the door to even higher earnings – your wage will be in your own hands.

Hear from some occupational therapists

Discover more about day-to-day life as an occupational therapist