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Job As an Occupational Therapist in Australia

Occupational therapist at work with the text Job as ab Occupational Therapist

There are currently great opportunities for overseas-trained Occupational Therapists with the right qualifications and skills to live, travel and work in Australia.

Whether it’s a short locum assignment, a three- to six-month contract, or even a permanent role, Occupational therapists are now in a fantastic position to find a great career.

In this article, I will cover all the essentials you need to know to make it a lot easier for you to get a job in Australia as an Occupational therapist. 

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1. Overview

There are many different types of Occupational therapist Jobs in Australia for Foreigners, in the current employment market there is a shortage of qualified Occupational Therapists.

As an Occupational Therapist in Australia, there are a large of different specializations and roles, here are some of the most common:

Above are the most common types of roles of an Occupational Therapist. However, depending on the size of the organization and the role offered you may work with a number of different specializations in the same role.

If you have a skill set in the above specializations your skills are in demand.

1.1 Benefits For Foreigners

As with many jobs, many foreigners enjoy the great work-life balance that you have in Australia. The country is huge and very diverse and offers some of the best coastline and beaches in the world as well as mountains, forests, and deserts. Here are some of the top benefits;

  1. Close proximity to the Beach & Nature
  2. Great Work-life Balance
  3. Great Weather
  4. High Remuneration

2. Qualifications and Experience

To work as an occupational therapist in Australia you need to have completed your occupational therapy studies at a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) accredited institution in Australia or New Zealand.

If you have studied and trained overseas you will need to be deemed eligible for Registration by the Occupational Therapist Council (OTC) which is an independent organization that provides assessment of qualifications and skills of internationally qualified occupational therapists wishing to practice in Australia.

Here I cover the process of registering in the next section.

2.1 How to Register

To Register as an Occupational Therapist here in Australia you will need to complete an evaluation.

The evaluation for each assessment is in two (2) stages:

  • Stage 1: Desktop Audit
  • Stage 2: Supervised Practice Audit

Note: If the applicant has completed Stage 1, they are eligible to be interviewed and start the employment process. However, they must secure Stage 2 approval and conditional registration before they can start working in their new position.

Stage 2 is a period where supervised practice is required to ascertain the knowledge of practice in the context of the Australian environment before full registration is received. Stage 2 cannot commence before the applicant has a planned role and supervision plan.

I suggest you visit the OTC and the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, where they have forms and complete information about the process.

2.2 Visas

The most important thing you will need to work as an Occupational therapist in Australia is a Visa. There are different types of visas you can obtain, to help you navigate, I’ve laid out the most common visa types below and how to get them.

2.2.1 Most Common Visa Types For Occupational Therapists

There are a large number of other visa types you can apply but the most common types of visas you could obtain are as follows:

  1. Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186
  2. Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187
  3. Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Subclass 482
  4. Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa, Subclass 489
  5. Skilled Independent Visa, Subclass 189

To apply to migrate to Australia under a skilled migration program, you will need to have your occupational therapist skills assessed by the Occupational Therapy Council (Aust & NZ) Inc (OTC). The OTC will assess your skills as either “suitable” or “not suitable”. The OTC’s assessment procedures differ depending on whether you are within Australia or overseas and seeking Skilled Migration in Australia.

I suggest you visit the official website of the Department of Immigration where you can find the right type of visa for you.

On the other hand, I have created a very useful guide for getting Sponsored in Australia that provides an in-depth guide to make the process much easier to get a sponsored visa.

3. Where are the Jobs?

Australia is a huge country with 8 different states and Territories, the largest states by population are New South Wales and Victoria.

According to the latest ABS census, around 25,000 Occupational Therapists are working across Australia broken down by state as follows:

State Percentage of Total Occupational Therapists Jobs Nationwide
New South Wales 29.7%
Victoria 24.5%
Queensland 20.0%
Western Australia 13.4%
South Australia 8.1%
Tasmania 1.9%
ACT 1.6%
Northern Territory 1.0%

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland Occupational Therapist Jobs

These are the main hubs for Occupational Therapist jobs in Australia. Melbourne is generally considered a stable job market for Occupational Therapists jobs. From the table above over 75% of Occupational Therapist jobs in Australia are located in either New South Wales (29.7%), Victoria (24.5%) and Queensland (20.0%). Therefore if you are seeking work these are the three areas you should begin your search because they will have the highest number of Occupational Therapist employers therefore more job advertisements. Map of Australia with state names

Western Australia & South Australia

These states offer nearly 20% of the Occupational Therapist jobs in Australia. Although they have a much smaller number of Occupational Therapist jobs than the larger 3 states they should still be considered when looking for Occupational Therapist jobs.

In my opinion Western Australia has some of the best beaches in Australia and the world. However, it is generally considered a less desirable state to live in due to being removed from the more densely populated East Coast of Australia. Therefore you may find it easier to find employment in these states.

Rest of Australia & Remote parts of Australia

The remote parts of Australia generally find it extremely difficult to fill roles in Health Care services. This is due to the extreme remoteness causing very few Australians to uproot their lives and relocate there. Therefore this presents an opportunity for you if you are looking for a job. You may find it easier to find a job in these areas. These areas often pay higher salaries to attract staff and have much lower costs of living.

4. Employment Types

There is a wide range of different employment types in Australia the 3 main ones are:

I will discuss each in full detail below.

Full-Time Employment

Here in Australia, full-time employment is around 38 hours a week. If you are given a full-time contract you have a set salary or hourly rate which is paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly (less common). As a full-time employee, these are the main benefits:

Part-Time Employment

Part-time in Australia is any job that is less than 38 hours. If you are given a part-time contract you often have a set salary which is paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly (less common).

The same benefits as listed above apply for part-time; however, you will be given a pro-rata share of paid holidays and paid sick days depending on the number of hours you work. For example, if you work 20 hours a week, you are entitled to annual leave of 1.4615 times the hours per week.

Part-time employment can be a great way to have an excellent work-life balance.

Casual Employment

This can be a confusing employment type that you have not come across before. Essentially you are not given any fixed hours and work the hours you are required. Your shifts and number of hours can change every week.

This employment type can suit an employee who is working for a short term or is just starting out in a new city or company.

Casual employees do not receive paid time off or sick pay but instead receive a pay rate that is 25% higher than the base rate.

A Casual employee does not have to give a notice period to leave and can also be terminated with no notice.

4.1 Salaries

The salary and wages for Occupational Therapists in Australia are high compared to other OECD countries in the world. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to earn as a qualified Occupational Therapist in Australia.

  • Entry Level Graduate (less than 3 years) experience – Entry-level graduates generally earn between $72,000 – $93,000 AUD per year
  • Experienced Occupational Therapist (More than 3 years experience) – Earn between $85,000 – $95,000 AUD per year
  • Senior Occupational Therapist (more than 5 years experience) – Earn between $101,000 – $129,000 AUD per year.

As you can see the pay levels for an Occupational Therapist in Australia are great, the salary you will earn will allow you to have very comfortable living standards in Australia.

Let’s now go through the best ways to apply for an Occupational Therapist Job in Australia.

5. How to Apply

To apply for Occupational Therapist jobs in Australia there are a number of different job search websites that you can use.

The most popular job advertising websites here in Australia are:

There are also some very popular healthcare-specific job search websites, I did some research, and here are some of the top picks:

5.1 Recruitment Agencies

It is worth getting in touch with a recruiter especially if you are looking at gaining a sponsorship visa. The recruiters have a large number of industry contacts and can make the process of finding a job much simpler for you.

If you are still overseas, apply to Recruitment Agencies up to two years before you arrive and jobs within a month of arrival. This helps to determine which City and State has the best opportunities and assistance may be offered with professional Registration and your Visa.

I have created an in-depth guide to getting a sponsorship job in Australia that also has some very useful tips about getting a job in Australia. Be sure to check that guide.

6. Final Thoughts

Working as an Occupational Therapist in Australia can be a great experience, you will be paid well, enjoy the great landscapes of Australia, and enjoy an excellent work-life balance. There are a few steps that need to be taken to secure a job and a visa which should be a lot easier to do yourself after reading this article. I recommend starting your job search and visa application as early as possible to give yourself plenty of time to find the right opportunity.

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