Where do occupational therapists work in the UK?

15 November 2021  •  Locum
Where do occupational therapists work in the UK?

There are plenty of opportunities for qualified occupational therapists in the UK, with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) highlighting a shortage of professionals in the country’s public and private healthcare network. But, where do occupational therapists work? There’s a wide variety of workplaces for OTs in the UK, making it an exciting prospect for those looking for locum occupational therapy jobs whilst getting the opportunity to travel.

Where do occupational therapists work in the UK?

The best part of working as an OT in the UK is the flexibility of workplaces, meaning that there is something for everyone. Here are the most popular settings.

Acute Care in Hospitals

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is one of the leading employers of occupational therapists, with jobs regularly available year-round. Expect an exciting and fast-paced work environment, with quick patient turnarounds that will keep you challenged and active.

Occupational therapist jobs in hospitals are usually attached to a division, such as paediatrics, rehabilitation or general medicine, allowing you to target an area of interest, expertise or preference. Working for the NHS is challenging but massively rewarding. You’ll be a part of a much loved public service, which offers a range of benefits, such as discounts at various retailers and restaurants.

Local Government

Local councils are one of the critical providers of occupational therapist jobs in the UK, with a big part of the work centred around providing services to older people and those with physical disabilities. You’ll usually be within the social services department of the local council, attending to patients at their homes or local clinics. This type of work is hugely rewarding, as it allows you to explore a new area of the country and to positively impact local communities.

Other benefits include an excellent local government pension scheme and generous annual leave.


If you have a passion for helping children, there are plenty of opportunities for occupational therapy work in schools and education centres.

You’ll aid teachers in helping children develop skills, such as legible handwriting and access to computers, that will enable them to excel in school and be ready for future work. In this setting, occupational therapists also work with children with disabilities and learning difficulties, who often need expert help in learning self-care, walking up and down stairs and staying safe at home.


If you’re looking for a challenge, working as an occupational therapist in prisons might be for you. The job is extremely rewarding, as you’ll rehabilitate young offenders and older convicts with skills that will help them find employment and readapt to civilian life. This type of work is crucial since it reduces the number of repeat offenders, thus relieving pressure from prisons.

The work also involves helping make prisons more accessible to those with disabilities, such as introducing ramps and accessible facilities.

Home Therapy

There’s an array of job opportunities for occupational therapists in a home environment in the UK, such as nursing homes and the private homes of patients. In this type of work, you’ll access the difficulties faced by patients in their home setting and correctly identify solutions for those problems.

Nursing home therapy work can also involve helping rehabilitate patients that are on a short stay. This will often include assessing the patient's capabilities and providing solutions to problems they may encounter. Assessments are essential since older patients may be showing signs of restrictive issues, such as dementia.

Mental Health

You can find opportunities for occupational therapy work in mental health in various settings, such as social services, schools, and rehabilitation facilities. Often patients have experienced a traumatic or life-changing event, which can take a massive toll on mental health. The role will often involve helping patients recover the function of everyday tasks and implement a routine to aid their mental health issues.

Workplace Health

Those wondering 'where do occupational therapists work? most probably haven't considered an office setting. The role of occupational therapists in a workplace is to identify solutions that can help increase productivity and improve workers health whilst reducing the risk of workplace injury. This is less common for occupational therapists but still a fantastic opportunity for those looking to try something different.

Rehabilitation Centre

There are various types of rehab centres that employ the services of occupational therapists. The most common being alcohol and drug rehabs, where patients benefit from learning and developing skills that can aid their recovery.

Often, patients in rehabilitation centres will have issues with conducting basic tasks as a result of substance abuse.


The most common employers are charities providing social services. Most will have a specialisation, such as services for children specifically. The work is carried out in a variety of settings, including schools, nursing homes, and special clinics. The job is massively rewarding since it ensures more people are receiving help whilst reducing the load on the NHS.

Working as an occupational therapist in the UK

Typically OTs work 37.5 hours over seven days, so flexibility is vital. Pay depends on the employer, but generally, salaries range between £25,654 and £45,838, depending on experience. In addition, to practice in the UK, you must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the regulatory body for health professionals in the country. For prospective international workers, check this helpful guide on what to expect from working in the UK.

Find locum occupational therapist jobs in the UK

Locum work offers an array of benefits to qualified occupational therapists. It provides the opportunity to travel and see new areas without committing to a long term contract. It also allows workers to experience different fields of work and get first-hand experience before choosing a specialisation.

Find an extensive list of occupational therapy work opportunities at Globe Locums, a specialist in providing short and long-term work contracts for both public and private healthcare providers.

Alternatively, if you're an Occupational Therapist who is looking for a career change, we have also discussed what other jobs occupational therapists can do.

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