Occupational Therapist Training and Development

What are the entry requirements to train as an Occupational Therapist/ Occupational Therapist Advanced Practitioner?

To become an Occupational Therapist you’ll need to train and study at undergraduate degree level (through a full-time course or degree apprenticeship) or if you already have a relevant degree, at Masters level through a 2-year accelerated programme. Entry requirements vary depending on where you’d like to study.
To get onto a full-time occupational therapy degree course you usually need two or three A levels, along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and science.
You may also be able to get onto a course with alternative qualifications, including:

  • BTEC, HND or HNC which includes biological science
  • relevant vocational qualifications
  • science-based access course
  • equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications

If you already have a relevant degree and healthcare experience, you can take a postgraduate master’s in occupational therapy. These courses usually take two years.

To become an Occupational Therapist Working in Primary Care, HEE Primary Care FCP training must be completed as the minimum threshold for entry, supported by appropriate governance and indemnity. This can begin 3-5 years postgraduate.

To become an Occupational Therapist Advanced Practitioner (AP) you will need a relevant degree (BSc or pre-reg MSc) in Occupational Therapy under a training programme approved by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. You will also need to be working at Band 7 as an experienced autonomous clinical practitioner in line with the national multi-professional framework for Advanced Clinical Practice in England framework.

Is there an Apprenticeship route towards becoming an Occupational Therapist/ OT Advanced Practitioner?

A degree apprenticeship standard in occupational therapy has been approved for delivery. To get onto a degree apprenticeship, you will need to apply for an apprentice position with a health care provider. You will usually need level 3 qualifications to get onto a degree apprenticeship.

You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/ and Find an Apprenticeship website: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch

There is also an apprenticeship route for Advanced Clinical Practice; this is a part-time integrated 3-year degree apprenticeship Masters programme. ACP apprentices are employed by their organisation for a minimum of 30 hours per week to undertake a job with training to recognised industry standards.

Where can the Occupational Therapist role lead?

Prospects for career development for Occupational Therapists in primary care are increasing, with opportunities to develop knowledge and a range of clinical, educational or managerial skills. There are well-established Advanced Clinical Practice pathways in South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw and a Faculty of Advanced Clinical Practice which works closely with HEE to support training.

There may be opportunities to take on education roles (e.g. secondment to university Occupational Therapy programmes/Training Hub preceptorship programmes and some OTs may take on lead roles in their area Federations/CCGs.