Studying occupational therapy
To register as an occupational therapist you need to have undertaken your occupational therapy studies at a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) accredited institution. A full and current list of approved programs of study in Australia (at universities across QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA & WA) is available on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website. All the programs on this list are entry-level programs providing the initial qualification required to register as an occupational therapist. The Masters programs on that list are for those with a relevant prior degree. It is generally accepted that all new graduate occupational therapists are considered as equal, regardless of the degree obtained.
Almost all universities provide an honours program either to all students, or in some cases just to high achieving students which provide skills in research to assist in future higher degree studies such as a postgraduate Masters or PhD. It does not necessarily provide an advantage in gaining employment yet it does provide important knowledge and skills to assist in the research and evaluative aspects involved in being a practising OT. Postgraduate degrees in occupational therapy are only available to those who have an existing entry-level degree in occupational therapy.
As part of the occupational therapy degree, each student will be required to participate in a minimum of 1,000 hours of placements/clinical fieldwork/practice education for the application of theory to practice. This is hands-on, practical experience arranged by the University, working with people who receive occupational therapy services with the aim to achieve both breadth and depth of experience. Most universities include placements in regional, rural and remote settings, and placements in new and emerging practice settings as mandatory experiences for students, in order to prepare adequately for work as an occupational therapist.
Even as a student, registration is mandatory as working with people forms part of the practice education/fieldwork involved in the degree. Once enrolled in an accredited occupational therapy program, the University will provide the details of each student to the AHPRA for registration. Students are eligible for Student Membership of OTA as soon as enrolment in a program of occupational therapy education is accepted, or anytime thereafter.