How To Become an Occupational Therapist in the UK

Working for the NHS
April 1, 2022
How To Become an Occupational Therapist in the UK

Occupational therapists provide practical support to help patients overcome challenges caused by ageing, short and long-term illness or trauma that may be preventing them from living an independent life.

This blog will provide you with information about how to become an occupational therapist here in the UK, NHS salaries and more.

How to become an occupational therapist in the UK?

To become an occupational therapist in the UK, you’ll need a degree in occupational therapy, which usually takes three years full-time to complete, or up to six years part-time. Once your degree is completed, you’ll then need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practicing.

If you’re overseas and coming to work as an occupational therapist in the UK, you’ll need to have completed your IELTS exam (IELTS Academic), with the scores of 7.0, with no band score less than 6.5 – please email us at for additional information on IELTS scoring. More information on English language requirements is also on the HCPC website.

Please also check out our partners Specialist Language Providers (SLC) – the UK’s leading medical English provider – for courses, useful advice, and general English language support.

How many occupational therapists are there across the UK?

In 2021, there were approx. 47,300 occupational therapists here in the UK - this number has fluctuated considerably over the last 10+years. There’s still considered to be a significant shortage of occupational therapists here in the UK, with the profession being included on the UK’s Shortage Occupations List. Look through our range of occupational therapist vacancies today.

How much do occupational therapists earn in the UK?

Salaries for occupational therapists in the NHS differ, and depend on the job’s Band. E.g. a Band 5 acute occupational therapist can earn between £25,655-£31,534, whereas a Band 6 paediatric occupational therapist’s salary would range from £32,306-£39,027 (salaries vary depending on location, skills, and experience too).

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