A Guide to Becoming an Occupational Therapist
Working as an occupational therapist, often just referred to as an OT, can be a very rewarding career choice. Occupational therapists at One Central Health help our clients and their families achieve a range of therapeutic and developmental goals to enhance their everyday lives.
In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about becoming an occupational therapist.
How to Become an Occupational Therapist
What does an occupational therapist do?
The primary function of an OT is to help clients develop the skills and ability to conduct daily tasks independently. Occupational therapists work in a range of facilities and organisations including hospitals and private health centres, workplaces, schools, old aged centres and even in private homes.
From bathing to preparing food, an occupational therapist supports clients in their participation in work, study, leisure and self-hygiene activities. OTs work closely and collaboratively with clients to empower them and ensure they retain their dignity even when assistance is needed.
Activities and tasks an occupational therapist can help with also include promoting social connectedness, attaining independence in daily tasks and ensuring emotional wellbeing. The ultimate goal is to provide holistic therapy to help minimise disruption to the client’s daily lives. Various therapy techniques, assistive technologies and even home modifications can be used by an occupational therapist to achieve the clinical goals.
Day to day tasks can include:
- Assessing injuries and physical disabilities.
- Assessing workplaces and homes.
- Providing assistance with manual tasks of all kinds.
- Report writing following clinical assessments.
- Running various workshops and teaching seminars.
- Consultation with teachers, insurers, medical practitioners, employers, family and support workers.
- Conducting various pre-employment or post-injury assessments.
Working as an occupational therapist
Some occupational therapists work in large organisations or healthcare centres, while others operate independently or run their own business. While most OTs tend to work regular hours, there are some that do work in shifts or outside of regular business hours.
There are a variety of tools and technologies that can be used in occupational therapy as well. These include:
- Mobility equipment e.g. wheelchairs
- Communication devices e.g. iPad and apps
- Modification/adaptive equipment e.g. dressing or eating aids
Courses and qualifications
Occupational therapists in Australia are required to complete a formal qualification by a registered training organisation i.e. a university.
Generally speaking, there are two different ways in which one can qualify to work as an OT.
Option 1: Undergraduate
An undergraduate degree in occupational therapy or a Bachelor of Science with a major in occupational therapy is available at a number of universities across WA and Australia. Most OT courses take 4 years to complete.
To find out more about OT courses in WA including duration, cost and entry requirements make sure to contact the particular institution you’d like to apply to:
Option 2: Masters
If you have completed an undergraduate degree in any field, you can opt to become an occupational therapist by then competing a Masters degree. This generally takes around 5 years to complete depending on the length of time of your undergraduate program.
It’s important to note that with this option you will be required to have certain prerequisite subjects included in your original undergrad degree.
Work Experience and Registration
During your course of study, you will often be required (or at least encouraged) to seek out work experience. This might be in the context of a formal arrangement set up through the university, or independently by yourself. Getting relevant work experience is invaluable for improving your skills, knowledge and career prospects. If you’re not sure how to go about getting work experience, make sure to speak with your professors, tutors and other university staff.
Once you have qualified from university, you will be required to register with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia. This Board governs and oversees OTs across the nation and has various registration standards that you will need to meet and comply with. This registration is mandatory for practicing as an OT.
Becoming an Occupational Therapist at One Central Health
At One Central Health, our occupational therapists are often in high demand. Dedicated to ensuring all of our clients live happy and meaningful lives, our tightknit OT team do amazing work day in and day out.