How do I become an occupational therapist?

Occupational therapy is a challenging and dynamic profession which makes a valuable difference in people's lives

To become an occupational therapist you will need to study an approved pre-registration programme. Pre-registration degree courses, accredited by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, are recognised internationally and will enable you to work overseas.

Most UK courses are BSc degrees, although postgraduate diplomas and master's degrees are also available. All pre-registration courses combine both practical placements and academic study. All programmes will leave you eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and they will get you to that point through a variety of methods and experiences.

Academic course components include:

  • Theories and models relating to occupation and occupational science
  • The relationship between occupation, health and wellbeing, and how this can be used in interventions
  • The core values and beliefs of occupational therapy
  • Professional attitudes and behaviours
  • Critical thinking and reasoning skills, including research skills
  • Occupational therapy process skills
  • Skills in the analysis and use of occupations as therapeutic media
  • Entrepreneurial and leadership skills


A minimum of 1,000 hours is spent on practice placements. Students gain experience in occupational therapy services or in new settings where the occupational therapist role could be introduced. Placements vary in length and cover a range of different practice areas.

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