Occupational Therapy
Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with an occupational therapy degree, and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.
We encourage you to:
  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employees and graduates
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Through evidence-based theoretical study and a variety of clinical practice opportunities, you will gain the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to join the occupational therapy profession when you graduate:
  • person-centred communication skills to engage with patients from a range of backgrounds in a sensitive and empathic way
  • assessment, planning and evaluation skills to deliver effective interventions in a range of clinical contexts
  • ability to facilitate people’s recovery in one-to-one and group contexts 
  • ability to apply research-based evidence to professional practice
  • management, leadership and team working skills within multi-professional teams
  • the ability to reflect on your practice and learn from your experiences.

Career options

Studying occupational therapy at Plymouth will enable you to commence a rewarding career within the health and social care sectors. With an ongoing demand for occupational therapists across the UK, employment prospects for graduates remain very good.
As the healthcare sector moves towards more integrated, home and community-based services, the range of opportunities available for newly qualified occupational therapists has never been greater. Our graduates work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, GP practices, health centres, nursing homes, schools, prisons and the armed forces. They also support patients in their own homes.
Most occupational therapists are employed by the NHS, however opportunities also exist in local authorities, charities and in commercial organisations (eg. independent occupational therapy services or equipment manufacturers).
As your career develops, you could take on a specialist role. Specialisms exist in a range of settings, for example in substance abuse, burns and plastic surgery, mental health or stroke rehabilitation. With experience you could progress into a leadership role, such as Clinical Lead. Alternatively, you could take on an education role, leading on the training and development of occupational therapists within the NHS or training students in higher education. With further training it is also possible to work as a high-intensity therapist as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. Opportunities also exist in clinical research.
Researching your career options
Given the diversity of career options open to occupational therapy graduates, it is important to research and explore these fully so that you can make informed decisions about your future.
The following websites provide helpful information on options with an occupational therapy degree: 
Employment opportunities
Below is a snapshot of what some Plymouth occupational health graduates told us they were doing 15 months after graduation. 
  • Children's Occupational Therapist
  • Dementia Practitioner
  • Eating Disorder Practitioner (CAMHS) – OT
  • Mental Health Practitioner
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist (Wheelchair Therapist)
  • Occupational Therapist in Neurology
  • Trainee Children Wellbeing Practitioner
Our graduates are found in most NHS Trusts as well as the private healthcare sector. 
Here are some examples of employers that our graduates have told us they are working for:
  • Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
  • Children & Family Health Devon/Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
  • Cornwall Council
  • Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Derriford Hospital
  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Livewell Southwest
  • Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS – The Royal United Hospital, Bath
  • North Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust
  • Priory
  • Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Gloucestershire Council
  • West Berkshire Social Services
  • Wiltshire Council
*Data is from the Graduate Outcomes Surveys covering the three years of 2018/19 – 2020/21. Graduates were surveyed 15 months after graduating. Data displayed is for UK-domiciled, first degree, full-time graduates who are working, studying or looking for work.

Further study

The University offers registered occupational therapists the opportunity to further develop their knowledge and skills through a range of specialist postgraduate programmes. These include:
You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation. Some useful websites to help you find a suitable postgraduate programme:
It is also worth investigating what further study options the University has to offer as you may find the perfect course for yourself in an institution you already know. There are also sometimes financial benefits of staying on such as a fee discount to Alumni – find out your funding options.

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access 24/7 online resources.
There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.
Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:
  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more
Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn alumni’s tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.
  • search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • select ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.
For more information about the alumni tool select the LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile, select the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

The pre-registration Occupational Therapy programmes at Plymouth offer a variety of placements in clinical and community settings alongside skills development activities at the University. Some students choose to supplement their studies with part-time work in the healthcare sector or elsewhere. 
The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.
In addition to enhancing your professional skillset, a varied set of work experiences can open up new opportunities and bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.
Clubs and societies
Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members can develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion.
You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to occupational therapy or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.
Tutor and academic support
Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.
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