How to become an Occupational Therapist

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How to become an Occupational Therapist

What do they do?

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.



  • 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
  • helping children with special needs or disabilities to be integrated into education programs in schools
  • assessing 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.


Skills required:

  • 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



Complete a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance qualification, and you could be qualified as an Occupation Therapy Assistant or Aide, and gain valuable work experience to help you decide if a career in OT is for you. Credits may count towards a degree.

Complete a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy.

Or, study an undergraduate degree in any field, then complete a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (check for prerequisite modules you’ll need to complete during your Bachelors). This pathway would generally take 5 to 5 ½ years.

Once you’re qualified, you’ll need to register with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia before you can start work.

Average salary $81,000 per year (Source: joboutlook.gov.au)

Job growth in this area is predicted to be strong.

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