Occupational therapy is a vocational degree with a substantial work experience element, designed to equip students to promote health, well-being and a satisfying lifestyle

Job options

Job options directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Work experience

A significant work experience element is built into all occupational therapy programmes, with a minimum requirement for students to spend 1,000 hours on clinical placements under the supervision of qualified occupational therapists.

Outside of your degree, work experience in supportive roles with vulnerable groups can allow you to further develop your communication and problem-solving skills, and experience different working environments. Learning about the social and psychological difficulties facing these groups is also beneficial. Vulnerable groups might include elderly people, those with disabilities, children and young people, and those with mental health issues, physical health difficulties or injuries.

Paid opportunities include work as a care assistant in a residential home, hospital or in clients' homes, or as an occupational therapy or social work assistant.

Relevant voluntary opportunities exist within:

  • youth projects
  • day care centres
  • special schools
  • advisory services
  • disability equipment hire services
  • hospitals
  • homeless shelters
  • charities.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Most graduates pursue a clinical career in occupational therapy and work in a variety of settings - such as hospitals, housing associations, schools, businesses, community centres, charities, prisons, job centres and clients' homes. There are opportunities to specialise, for example with children or stroke patients.

Key employers are the National Health Service (NHS) and local government, deploying occupational therapists within mental health services, hospital departments like accident and emergency, or social services.

Opportunities also exist in management, education, private practice and research. Related careers include working within organisations specialising in injury claims, drug rehabilitation, inclusion work or developing and distributing disability aids.

Find information on employers in healthcare, social care and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

As well as developing knowledge around human anatomy, life cycle, psychology and sociology, a degree in occupational therapy helps you develop a range of diverse skills, including:

  • communication and relationship building with people of all ages
  • collecting and interpreting data
  • assessing, reviewing and evaluating data
  • devising creative solutions to problems
  • managing and prioritising multiple and complex demands
  • teaching, mentoring and coaching
  • teamwork through liaising with professionals, such as doctors or social workers, as well as patients' families, carers and employers
  • the ability to reflect on learning
  • research and report writing
  • completing administrative tasks.

Further study

Most occupational therapy graduates go directly into clinical employment. However, MSc programmes in specialist areas may allow students to develop advanced skills within a specific area of treatment, therapy or health condition. Other postgraduate qualifications in health studies can provide opportunities to influence healthcare practice through clinical research and development.

Options for postgraduate study for those interested in other, or related, careers include social work, health promotion, public health, health development and teaching.

Practising occupational therapists must engage in continuing professional development (CPD). Skills are updated via informal and formal learning such as courses, workshops, supervision and reflective practice.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do occupational therapy graduates do?

Over 90% of occupational therapy graduates are in employment six months after graduation. The majority of them are working as occupational therapists. Popular career choices include alternative jobs within the health sector, as well as positions within legal, social and welfare-based organisations.

Graduates have also progressed into child-focused and educational roles.

Further study1.6
Working and studying1.6
Graduate destinations for occupational therapy
Types of workPercentage
Health professionals88
Legal, social and welfare4.2
Childcare, health and education work2.7
Retail, catering and bar work1.8
Types of work entered in the UK

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?

Graduate destinations data provided by the Higher Educations Statistics Agency.