Frequently Asked Questions
From Potential Students
Where can I study occupational therapy?
There are occupational therapy programs at universities in all states and territories except NT & Tasmania
What is the difference between a Bachelor and Master program?
All the programs on the OTC list are entry to practise programs; they provide the initial qualification required to work as an occupational therapist.
The Masters programs on that list are for people with a prior degree.
Bachelor programs are usually four years and Masters programs two to two and a half years.
Is it better to study a Masters or a Bachelor/Masters double degree rather than just a Bachelor level degree?
That is up to you. From a general perspective, all new graduate occupational therapists are considered as equal, whatever their degree.
Can I study honours? Will it make getting a job easier?
Almost all universities provide an honours program to high achieving students. An honours program aims to give you some beginning skills in research to position you for higher degree studies such as a postgraduate Masters or PhD. It does not necessarily advantage you in the workplace.
There is a Masters of OT at a university that is not on your list.
Most likely reason is that it is a Masters program that is only for people who already have an occupational therapy degree.
Can I study a postgraduate Masters program in occupational therapy (ie not an entry-level Masters)?
My first degree is in the health area but is not occupational therapy specific.
No. Postgraduate degrees in occupational therapy are only for people with an existing entry level degree in occupational therapy. Contact your preferred university for the postgraduate study options available to you.
What are the entry requirements (pre-requisites) to get into OT?
Each university has its own pre-requisites but in general are as follows:
Bachelor level programs (or double degree Bachelor/Masters):
- School leaver: Usually successful completion of Year 12 (sometimes with pre-requisite subjects) if you are coming straight from school. Refer to the university websites.
- If not a school leaver: Successful completion of other studies, usually at university level, plus work experience/voluntary experience can be taken into account. Refer to the university websites.
Masters entry level programs:
- A prior degree, usually but not always with previous studies in subjects such as anatomy, psychology. Refer to individual university websites (La Trobe University, Monash University (soon), University of South Australia, Flinders University, Curtin University, University of Sydney and University of Queensland offer Masters entry-level programs).
Which is the best university program?
When a program is accredited it meets the standards. A program that is accredited with conditions is usually in development and on track to meet all standards.
What does accredited mean?
A program has met the standards set for education providers in Australia.
Why does accredited with conditions mean?
A program has substantially met the standards set for education providers in Australia. New programs yet to have the first graduates are only ever awarded accredited with conditions.
Where can I find out more about occupational therapy?
- A broad Internet search will give you some good information.
- Attend university open days.
- University websites – go to the occupational therapy section.
- Occupational Therapy Australia website (www.otaus.com.au)
- World Federation of Occupational Therapists website (www.wfot.org.au)
What are ‘placements’/clinical fieldwork/practice education?
When you are a student of occupational therapy you are required to participate in 1000 hours of placements/clinical fieldwork/practice education where you apply theory to practise. This is where you get hands-on experience in working with people who receive occupational therapy services. The university will organise these placements for you. These are NOT paid positions.
Can I do placements interstate/overseas?
Sometimes, and this is organised by the university.
Where can I get work experience?
Some organisations will provide work experience to students at school, where they have a formal arrangement with the school, however opportunities are limited due to safety and insurance requirements.
Can I work overseas when I graduate?
Yes, subject to each country’s registration requirements (e.g. you may need to sit an exam).
Australian occupational therapy programs meet the standards of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists.
Where do occupational therapists work?
Health and education, industries as well as a wide range of human services organisations working with people of all ages. Refer to the internet sites above for more information.
Will I get a job when I complete my studies?
There is never any guarantee that employment is available.
If you have successfully completed the degree, and met the registration requirements, there are a wide range of possible practice areas, including jobs not titled occupational therapist (e.g. case manager, project worker).
Can I work in private practice?
Many occupational therapists set up private practice. It is best if you consider this when you have some significant work experience. Some new graduates are employed in private practices, and like all jobs, you should seek out supervision and mentoring to help develop your expertise.
I have a disability; can I still study occupational therapy?
Yes, although you should consider how this might impact on your capacity to practise safely and competently as an occupational therapist. i.e. you are required to declare any health issue that might impact on the safety of the people with whom you will work as a student (and when you have graduated).
All universities have services aimed at assisting students with disabilities.
Do occupational therapy students have to be registered?
Yes, you will need to be registered as you will be working with people as part of your practice education/fieldwork. Once you are enrolled in an accredited occupational therapy program the university will provide your details to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). There is no fee to you for this.
In addition, if the university has any concerns that you have a condition (e.g. health problem) that will affect your capacity to practise as a student safely they are required to inform AHPRA.
I’m already a student in an occupational therapy program and have concerns about what I am studying.
You should speak to your subject coordinator if it is about a specific topic of study, or the program coordinator (head of program/leader).
How much will I get paid when I graduate?
Refer to the Fair Work Australia website for some information. Look at Awards such as:
- Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010.
- Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 2010
I have a family – is there accommodation/flexible study arrangements?
Usually some; you need to contact the university regarding this.
Do I have to be a member of the Occupational Therapy association?
No, membership is voluntary. Occupational Therapy Australia Ltd is the professional association in Australia and it promotes, advocates and represents occupational therapists and also provides continuing professional development activities.
What is WFOT?
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) is the international body representing occupational therapists.
The WFOT sets international standards for occupational therapy education, and these standards form the basis of accreditation standards in Australia used by the OTC.
If you join the professional association – Occupational Therapy Australia – you will become a member of the WFOT.
Are there any on-line OT degrees?
Most universities have some subjects that can be studied by distance in Year 1, however all universities require on-campus attendance for most subjects.
How do university semesters/trimesters work?
When you study at university, your study will be timetabled according to the university calendar. Sometimes occupational therapy placements are scheduled outside of this time. Relevant and important dates for each university are on the university websites.
What are the English language requirements for international students?
There is some variation between universities, but most have similar requirements to those set for internationally educated practitioners working in Australia.