Healthcare & Medical

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients by helping them develop and improve skills they need for everyday living.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Occupational Therapist do?

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients by helping them develop and improve skills they need for everyday living.


Work activities

As an occupational therapist, you would:

  • review patients’ medical history, ask questions, and observe them doing tasks
  • evaluate a patient’s condition and needs
  • develop individual treatment plans to suit each patient's lifestyle and needs
  • identify specific goals and the types of activities that will be used to help the patient work toward those goals
  • demonstrate exercises and alternative methods of doing tasks
  • evaluate a patient’s home or workplace and identify improvements on the basis of the patient’s health needs
  • provide advice to a patient’s family or employer on how to best care for the patient
  • recommend special equipment, such as wheelchairs and eating aids, and instruct patients on how to use that equipment
  • assess and keep notes on patients’ activities and progress
  • work with other health professionals including physiotherapists, social workers and nurses, to achieve the best outcomes for patients.

Key skills and interests

To become an occupational therapist, you would need:

  • good communication skills
  • good listening skills
  • sensitivity to the needs and concerns of patients
  • to be flexible and adaptable
  • the ability to form good working relationships with a wide variety of people
  • patience, determination and a positive attitude.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time job you would work a standard number of hours per week, Monday to Friday. Part-time or flexible work should be readily available.


You could work in hospitals, health centres, residential care or aged care homes, and in the client's own home.


How to become an Occupational Therapist?

Entry Level Education

To become an occupational therapist you usually have to complete a degree in occupational therapy at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, biology, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

Before undertaking clinical placements, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and relevant immunisations.

Graduates must be be registered with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia before practising as an occupational therapist in any state or territory of Australia.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.

Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, and more occupational therapists will be needed to help treat people with a growing rate of chronic conditions, and the large, aging baby-boom population.


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