Employment opportunities for occupational therapists are available across the United Kingdom, especially under the National Health Service (NHS). There are also options available with private healthcare settings or local authorities. The inclusion of the occupational therapy profession on the Shortage Occupation List (Occupation Code: 2222) in the year 2019 has made it easier for international occupational therapists to come to the UK. Compared to other regions of the United Kingdom, London offers a large number of vacancies for Occupational Therapists in the UK.
Occupational Therapists work with adults and children, predominantly with the following categories:
Children and young people
People with physical disabilities and long-term conditions
People with learning disabilities
People with mental health conditions
People at the end of life
Occupational Therapy services are provided by the government & private hospitals, other healthcare organisations, social care services, and voluntary organisations. Some organisations provide the services at the home and school levels.
How to become an Occupational Therapist in the UK?
You can achieve your goal of becoming a registered Occupational Therapist in the United Kingdom within three steps.
Register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Secure a job with an employer who can provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Complete travel formalities, including the application for Tier 2 visa
Health and Care Professions Council, also known as HCPC, is the regulatory body in the United Kingdom with which the applicants do the registration in order to work in the UK. HCPC handles 15 healthcare professions, including Occupational Therapists. The criteria to acquire HCPC registration varies according to the type of profession. To register with HCPC as an Occupational Therapist, an applicant must meet the following requirements.
Educational Qualification: Bachelor's degree with honours
English language proficiency:
International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 7.0 with no element below 6.5
Test of English as a Foreign Language (*TOEFL) Internet-Based Test (IBT): A minimum score of 100/120
*HCPC will not accept any TOEFL test score undertaken in the UK.
Benefits of working as an Occupational Therapist with the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) offers its staff numerous benefits, from attractive salary packages to an excellent pension scheme. Some of the significant advantages are:
Competitive Salary Package: Registered Occupational Therapists will typically start with the position of Band 5 under the National Health Service, which enables them to gain a starting salary of £25,655 per annum, according to the NHS Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system.
NHS Pension Scheme: The Pension Scheme provided by the UK NHS is one of the most inclusive and generous pension plans in the United Kingdom. It supports the staff by acknowledging and appreciating them and enabling them to work and enjoy retirement life effortlessly.
Leaves: The standard annual leave entitlement is 27 days (plus bank holidays), which increases to 29 days after five years of work and 33 days after ten years of service. In addition, you will be entitled to maternity, paternity, compassionate leaves, and more according to eligibility.
Flexible Working: The standard working period is 37.5 hours per week. However, the NHS offers various flexible working options in order to help its employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Staff Discounts: Food & Drink, Hair & Beauty, Health & Fitness, Hotels & Breaks, Nights Out, Shopping, Spas, and more are among the activities for which NHS staff can receive considerable discounts. These discounts can be discovered and availed from the NHS staff intranet.
Career Development: Each NHS employee has an annual personal development evaluation and plans to support their career goals. In addition, all full-time and part-time employees have career development opportunities through training courses.
Opportunities for Occupational Therapists in the UK
There are ample career opportunities for Occupational Therapists who are registered with HCPC. The majority of the vacancies are under the National Health Service (NHS), whilst private healthcare organisations employ others. Regardless of one's specialisation or field of practice, the United Kingdom offers a vast array of chances and good professional advancement.