How to become an Occupational Therapist

How to become an Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapists (OTs) are qualified health professionals who work with people of all ages if they’ve been sick, injured or disabled. OTs help their patients to adapt, develop or improve abilities that allow them to participate better in all aspects of life, e.g. daily tasks, self-care, working and volunteering, as well as participation in hobbies, interests and social events.

OTs might work in hospitals, specialist clinics or private offices, schools, care facilities, or out in the community.

People who enjoy helping, are patient, good problem solvers and great with people from all walks of life could suit a career as an OT.


About you:


  • Patient, compassionate and empathetic
  • Creative and good at problem solving
  • Organised, great at time management with a flexible attitude
  • Practical, fit, and observant
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Enthusiastic and a good motivator


The job:


  • Conduct tests and assess patients’ capabilities (mental, physical, developmental etc)
  • Develop, plan and implement treatment programs to improve affected movements or functions
  • Monitor and report on patients progress and help with the coordination of other services that might be needed
  • Help children with special needs or disabilities to be integrated into education programs in schools
  • Assess employees who’ve been injured or sick, help them return to work or find alternative duties they might be able to do
  • Assess home and work environments to find problem areas and develop solutions
  • Design and modify everyday environment of clients to allow for better access and independence
  • Recommend and advise on the use of specialised equipment
  • Assess the need for, develop and run health education programs including workplace health and safety
  • Act as consultants to industry and government organisations, insurers, medical practitioners and employers
  • Undertake research
  • Teach in academic institutions, generally at tertiary level
  • Assist with policy development for health and other areas


Lifestyle Impact: Moderate


  • Part Time opportunities: Moderate – around 42% of Occupational Therapists work part-time (source:
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 41 hours a week, which is average (source:
  • Occupational Therapists’ salary (average) $88,000* per year (source: *Salaries vary depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Very strong (source:
  • You can work in a variety of environments, including in hospitals, private clinics, aged care facilities, schools, workplaces, and even at a patient’s home.
  • The work can be stressful at times, working with people who may have been in serious accidents and suffering physical and mental trauma.


Occupational Therapists are most in demand in these locations:


This is a medium sized occupation, with around 22,700 people working as Occupational Therapists in Australia in 2020 (source: Demand for Occupational Therapists is spread evenly across Australia, with a higher-than-average demand in Western Australia and South Australia. Most Occupational Therapists work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.


How to become an Occupational Therapist in Australia


You will need to complete relevant undergraduate studies, as well as register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) to work as an Occupational Therapist.


Step 1 – Complete Year 12 with a focus on English and Maths. Biology and Health could also be useful.


Step 2 – Complete an Ahpra-approved program of study, usually a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. You can see all of the currently approved programs here.


Step 3 – Once you have finished your studies, apply for general registration as an Occupational Therapist. You can read more about this here.


Step 4 – Start working as a qualified Occupational Therapist.


Step 5 – Keep your knowledge up to date with continuing professional development, and re-register with Ahpra each year.


Find out more here –


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Do I need to go to university to become an Occupational Therapist?


Yes, you will need to complete an approved program of study (either at Bachelor or Master’s level) and register with Ahpra to work as an Occupational Therapist in Australia.


Where do Occupational Therapists work?


Occupational Therapists can work in a variety of different environments, including hospitals (both public and private), specialty and private clinics, in aged care homes, workplaces, community centres, schools, and more.


What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become an Occupational Therapist?


If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as an Occupational Therapist is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:

  1. Do volunteer work in your school or community to start building important skills. This will also look good on any future university and job applications.
  2. See if you can find work experience in a health or care-based setting. This will help you see if you might enjoy the work, and can help you start building important contacts for the future.
  3. Talk to an Occupational Therapist to see what a day in their life is like. If you don’t know anyone, see if you can watch videos or documentaries about a career in construction or as an Occupational Therapist.

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