Qualifications Needed to be an Occupational Therapist

Working for the NHS
April 1, 2022
Qualifications Needed to be an Occupational Therapist

You may be an overseas occupational therapist considering your options to practice in the UK, or you might already be based here. But, do you have the necessary qualifications to do so?

In this blog, we’ll shed some light on the occupational therapist profession, the qualifications that are needed to practice here in the UK, and how you can go about acquiring the necessary qualification(s).

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy aims to improve patients’ ability to do everyday tasks, if/when they are having trouble doing so. This difficulty could come from ageing, trauma, disability or long or short-term illness. It’s a role that allows you to make a huge difference to people’s lives and to help them overcome all kinds of challenges so they can live as independently as possible.

A few examples of how occupational therapists can help patients are: adapting people to life after major surgery, helping older people to stay in their homes by adapting their home settings - such as level access showers and/or stair lifts - and supporting people with learning disabilities with everyday activities, such as work or volunteering.

What are the qualifications required to practice as 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 hello@migratehr.com 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.

But, of course, academic qualifications aren’t everything. To be a great occupational therapist, you’ll need to be a ‘people person’ who’s able to make people feel comfortable, settled and at-ease. Also, the skills of creativity, quick-thinking and patience will be essential for this role too.

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