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 directly related to your degree include:
- Art therapist
- Dance movement psychotherapist
- Health promotion specialist
- High intensity therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Sports therapist
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Advice worker
- Care manager
- Medical sales representative
- Play therapist
- Primary care graduate mental health worker
- Social worker
- Special educational needs teacher
- Teaching assistant
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
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;
- homeless shelters;
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Most graduates pursue a clinical career in occupational therapy and work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, housing associations, schools, businesses, community centres, charities, prisons, job centres and people's own 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 such as accident and emergency, or within social services.
Opportunities also exist in management, education, private practice and research. Graduates seeking careers outside of occupational therapy may find opportunities within organisations specialising in injury claims, drug rehabilitation, inclusion work or developing and distributing disability aids.
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.
Most occupational therapy graduates go directly into clinical employment. However, MSc programmes in specialist areas such as neurological rehabilitation 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.
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.
|Working and studying||1.5|
|Types of work||Percentage|
|Childcare, health and education work||3.3|
|Legal, social and welfare||3.2|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||0.9|
Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?