How Do I Become an Occupational Therapist?

How Do I Become an Occupational Therapist?

In recent years Occupational Therapy has become an increasingly attractive profession. It suits people who want to work in the caring professions. Occupational therapy is a vibrant, growing career that involves helping people to achieve independence and to enjoy life to its fullest. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you can help to improve the lives of people at all stages in life, from newborns on the threshold of life to the very old and infirm. It is a career with growing opportunities. It’s a varied career with new areas of specalisation becoming available. The work can be demanding and you need to be practical, resourceful and cheerful with the ability to inspire confidence and trust. If you care about people and want to make a real contribution to society, then this may be the career for you. first step is to take an accredited course at third level. Registration is currently with The Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI).

University College Limerick: MSc Occupational Therapy: 2 years. An undergraduate degree, 2.2 honours or higher, with preference given to applicants with related subjects such as health, psychology, sociology, anatomy or human biology. Relevant work experience in health and social care will also be considered. Candidates should have completed at least 2 visits to a range of occupational therapy areas prior to interview. Please note that meeting the minimum criteria for entry onto the programme does not guarantee that an interview or a place will be offered. You should check with the college whether interviews form part of the entry requirements for September 2016.

Occupational TherapyWhat Other Options do I have for getting into Occupational Therapy?  

To use your qualification gained abroad in Ireland it must first be validated by the Department of Health and Children through the National Validation Project HR Directorate (tel. 091 775094).

The UK Health Professionals Council regulates this industry in the UK and have a list of approved courses for registration on their website. More information can be found at the British College of Occupational Therapists  where you will also find The Occupational Therapy Careers Handbook which contains a comprehensive list of recognised UK courses Courses in Occupational Therapy UK


Eg: Biology / Health / Nursing / Social Care / Physiotherapy / Psychology – please check relevant websites for full lists:

If you are applying to Occupational Therapy as a Mature Student the following courses may be useful.

UK Post Graduate entry into Occupational Therapy

The following 2-year accelerated courses (Pre-registration) enable graduates of other disciplines to obtain a recognised qualification in Occupational Therapy – They will look for a Relevant First degree in Health Science, Biology or similar. You need to check in each case.

(this list may not be exhaustive – please check appropriate websites).

Glasgow Caledonian University: MSc Occupational Therapy. First or 2.1 degree in health, behavioural or social sciences with basic knowledge of statistics. A degree with relevant pre-professional experience. Must complete a module before start of course. For closing and late applications go to website.

Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh: PGDip/MSc Occupational Therapy. An honours degree with six months relevant experience in the field and research experience / project . For closing date and late applications visit website.

University of Brighton: PGDip/MSc Occupational Therapy (Health through Occupation). Degree  2.2 and/or experience.  Knowledge and understanding of occupational therapy. Work experience in health or social care preferred but not essential. Application and closing date available online.

 MSc Occupational Therapy Brunel University. A first or upper second class honours degree from any discipline with strong applicants demonstrating a science profile and evidence of informed insight into the profession of occupational therapy. Applicants with a lower second class honours degree who have extensive experience of working in a health or social care setting will also be considered. Check website for application and closing dates.

University of Derby: MSc Occupational Therapy [pre-registration]  An honours degree of 2.1 or 2.2 with other qualification and you will need to have a range of skills and experience that demonstrate your commitment, enthusiasm and professional suitability for a career in occupational therapy. You will require relevant experience and evidence that you will be able to manage the academic demands of Masters level study. Visit website for application and closing dates.

University of Cumbria: MSc Occupational Therapy –1st or 2nd class honours degree in a relevant subject. If you have an unrelated first degree, but also experience in occupational therapy, your application will be considered. Candidates will need to show post-qualification academic performance, a range of continuing professional development (CPD), and relevant professional experience. Require a clear understanding of the work of an occupational therapist, so it is useful if you have undertaken some work experience or shadowing. Visit website for application dates.

Leeds Metropolitan University: MSc Occupational Therapy. You will require a honours degree, normally a 2:1, relevant to occupational therapy. You will also require a good understanding of the occupational therapy profession and occupational therapy practice along with an understanding of health and social care. Applicants will also be required to pass medical screening and agree to a Criminal Records Bureau check. Applications for 2015 now closed. Check website for future applictions.

London South Bank University: PGDip/MSc Occupational Therapy. To apply, you must have an honours degree in any subject area and relevant experience of working in health, social care or a related area. For degrees starting in September 2016, you can submit your application via UCAS from September 2015. Interview and written experience.

University of Northumbria, Newcastle: MSc Occupational Therapy. 1st or 2.1 honours in a health subject or related subject to occupational therapy. The course is now closed for 2015 admission. Visit website for future application dates.

University of Teeside, Middlesbrough: PgDip/MSc Occupational Therapy. Applicants should normally have a 2.1 honours degree. Applicants are advised to contact the Admissions Tutor for further information before applying. Apply early January 2015 for January 2016 entry.

University of East Anglia, Norwich: MSc Occupational Therapy. Degree at grade 2:1 or above. Applications now closed for September 2014 intake. Visit website for future application information.

It is also possible to apply for a second undergraduate degree in the UK. Applications for the courses through UCAS before 15th January. UK College Application System UCAS

  • Before attending your interview you should visit at least two occupational therapists to help you appreciate the demands and role of an occupational therapist.
  • Some type of experience working/caring for people with a disability or disadvantaged, either paid or voluntary would benefit applicants.

Going the Apprenticeship Route into Occupational Therapy

You can work in the Occupational Therapy field as an assistant practitioner by going the Apprenticeship route in the UK Apprenticeships Route UK – Occupational Therapist Assistant  It is possible to progress on to the Higher Apprenticeship Route at a later stage. Assistant practitioners competently deliver healthcare with a level of knowledge and skill beyond that of traditional healthcare assistants or support workers. As an apprentice you will provide patient care in clinics, people’s homes or hospitals. You might work in a single health profession (e.g. nursing, physiotherapy or speech and language therapy) or across a number of different disciplines.

Ireland Further Education Route

BTEC Higher National Diploma in Social Care in Inchicore  qualifies you on the NHS to work as an Assistant Practitioner in Occupational Therapy   This can be a springboard to full qualifications.


Association of Occupational Therapists in Ireland British Association of Occupational Therapists Health Professionals Council

British National Health Service Careers website

World Federation of Occupational Therapists


Please note: All information about courses, entry requirements, links and qualifications is subject to change. Please be sure to do your own research and contact colleges, professional bodies and other relevant organisations to get the most up-to-date information. The above is simply a set of guidelines to get you started.

  • Comments are closed.