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Guide to Occupational Therapy Jobs in the UK

What are the employment prospects like for OTs?

The outlook for overseas Occupational Therapists from countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada is excellent. OTs are a valuable resource within the wider healthcare system and there is a strong demand for qualified and experienced practitioners to help meet the demand. You can begin looking for OT jobs there or get the ball rolling by contacting a few recruitment agencies.

Is Occupational Therapy regulated? Will your overseas OT qualifications be recognised?

Occupational Therapy is regulated by the Health Professionals Council (HPC). The title 'Occupational Therapist' is protected, meaning it is illegal to work as an OT in the UK unless you are registered with the HPC.

To register with the HPC as an overseas qualified Occupational Therapist you will have to meet strict standards relating to your:

  • training and qualifications
  • professional skills and experience
  • personal character
  • personal health

OTs are expected to possess an undergrad or post-grad degree in Occupational Therapy from an approved tertiary institution. (like the degrees offered in Australia, New Zealand and Canada)

All applications for registration are investigated individually so it is in your best interests to ensure the application is correct and complete before it is sent. The processing time for an application is usually 4 — 6 weeks. During peak periods, or if your application is incomplete, processing can take months.

The cost to apply for registration is £400. This is a one-off, non-refundable ‘scrutiny fee’ which is separate to the registration fee you will be charged should your application be successful. Contact the HPC to find out the registration fees applicable to each profession. As a guide though, registration renewal costs £144 for two years and this amount can be claimed as a tax expense.

As part of your application you will have to provide a character reference, a health reference and 2 clinical references. You will also have to contact the university or institution where you achieved your qualification and have them provide a detailed overview of the course you studied. A comprehensive application guide can be found on the HPC website.

If you are interested in joining a professional body for Occupational Therapists, you can choose between the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT) and the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT).

What is expected of Occupational Therapists?

It is important to have a professional approach to your work when entering the healthcare service. Employers will want to ensure that you possess:

  • excellent organisation and communication skills
  • strong interpersonal management skills
  • a professional and understanding approach

OTs are expected to be able to work with patients of all ages and there are opportunities to work in a variety of specialties, such as learning disabilities or care management.

How much can you expect to earn and what are the working conditions like for Occupational Therapy jobs?

Your salary for an OT job will be affected by your experience, qualifications and responsibilities. Salary rates may vary from the public to the private sector, though they are usually fairly similar.

The following hierarchy can be used as general guide for Occupational Therapy jobs:

Position Title Pay Band (NHS) Salary Range (all sectors)
Occupational Therapist 5 £19.5K — £25.5K per annum
OT Technical Instructor Higher level 5 £19.5K — £25.5K per annum
OT Specialist 6 £23.5K — £31.5K per annum
OT Team Manager 7 £28K — £37.5K per annum
OT Advanced 7 £28K — £37.5K per annum
OT Advanced Community 7 £28K — £37.5K per annum

Your salary will also reflect the location in which you live. If you live in a high cost area, such as Inner London, then your employer will take this into consideration.

The work hours for an OT in the UK are around 37.5 hours a week (Monday to Friday). Part time work is widely available. Depending on where you live, having a drivers license may be necessary in order for you to travel between appointments.

How should you go about finding the right OT position?

Whether you are applying for a specific Occupational Therapy job or simply looking for anything which matches your skills and experience, your first point of contact will probably be a UK Allied Health recruiter. Recruitment agencies are heavily involved in the UK job market - it is their business to find quality candidates for employers while simultaneously helping candidates to develop and progress their careers.

Workgateways manages a network of the best Allied Health recruiters to help you reach your potential.

Register with recruitment agencies up to 2 years before your arrival. Your recruitment consultant will then begin the process of finding you a suitable position, giving you a great head start to your working life. If your travel plans or arrival date changes, make sure you inform your recruitment consultant immediately.

Learn how to get the most out of your job search in our FAQs.

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