Occupational Therapists assess functional limitations of people resulting from illnesses and disabilities, and provide therapy to enable people to perform their daily activities and occupations.
assessing clients' emotional, psychological, developmental and physical capabilities using clinical observations and standardised tests
assessing clients' functional potential in their home, leisure, work and school environments, and recommending environmental adaptations to maximise their performance
planning and directing programs through the use of vocational, recreational, remedial, social and educational activities on an individual and group basis
providing advice to family members, carers, employers and teachers about adapting clients' home, leisure, work and school environments
providing adaptive equipment, such as wheel chairs and splints, to assist clients to overcome their functional limitations
working with other Health Professionals in overall case management of clients
working with other professionals in providing specialist advice to specific client groups such as those requiring driver rehabilitation, third-party compensation and medico-legal representation
recording clients' progress and maintaining professional relationships in accordance with relevant legislative requirements and ethical guidelines
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow moderately
- is likely to reach 25,600 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 58% of people employed as Occupational Therapists work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 8 percentage points below the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 41 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Median full-time earnings are $1,749 per week, this is higher than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,401
- 1 in 4 earn more than $1,882
Median hourly earnings are $44, this is more than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Occupational Therapists||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Occupational Therapists work in the Health care and social assistance industry.
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Occupational Therapists||All Jobs Average|
Around 64% of Occupational Therapists live in capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 62%.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
- Melbourne - Inner
- Perth - North West
- Newcastle and Lake Macquarie
- Melbourne - Inner South
- Brisbane - South.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Occupational Therapists is 34 years. This is younger than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 25 to 34 years.
Females make up 92% of the workforce. This is 44 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Occupational Therapists||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||1.0||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
A bachelor degree in occupational therapy is needed to work as an Occupational Therapist. Some workers have a postgraduate qualification.
Registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is required.
- Course Seeker to search and compare higher education courses.
- ComparED to compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Occupational Therapists||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||22.2||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||0.0||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Occupational Therapists who are mature, professional, and efficient and can solve problems.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Reading work related information.
Talking to others.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Looking for ways to help people.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
52%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Teaching people how to do something.
52%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
52%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
Understanding needs and product requirements to create a design.
43%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
82%Therapy and counselling
Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and career counselling and guidance.
71%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
67%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
63%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
58%Medicine and dentistry
Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities, including preventive health-care measures.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
49%Philosophy and theology
Philosophical systems and religions, including their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and impact on society.
Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.
46%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
43%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
41%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
39%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
36%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
30%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
25%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
22%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
57%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Read and understand written information.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
43%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Keep your hand or arm steady.
See details that are far away.
Do two or more things at the same time.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
77%Helping and caring for others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support.
75%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
74%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
70%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
69%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
67%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
67%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
67%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
65%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
64%Working with the public
Greeting or serving customers, clients or guests, and public speaking or performing.
63%Negotiating and resolving conflicts
Handling complaints and disagreements, and negotiating with people.
61%Coaching and developing others
Working out the needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or helping them to improve.
60%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
58%Coming up with systems and processes
Deciding on goals and figuring out what you need to do to achieve them.
52%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
52%Explaining things to people
Helping people to understand and use information.
51%Leading and encouraging a team
Encouraging and building trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
51%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
47%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Talk with people face-to-face.
96%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
96%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
95%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Use electronic mail.
93%Disease or infection
Be exposed to disease or infections.
Work with people in a group or team.
Talk on the telephone.
88%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
86%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
86%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
86%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
Work to strict deadlines.
83%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
81%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
81%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
71%Angry or unpleasant people
Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.
70%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
Deal with conflict or disagreements.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 29-1122.00 - Occupational Therapists.