Occupational therapists are an important part of the health family of the Republic of Ireland. Being an occupational therapist is an increasingly attractive career.
You would treat patients with all types of physical conditions. You could work in hospitals or community rehabilitation services.
In Ireland, there has been a shortage of occupational therapists and other health professionals in recent years. This means the position is increasingly well-regarded and well-paid.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do
Occupational therapists are highly skilled healthcare professionals. In this role, you would develop and implement intervention programmes to address the specific occupational needs of their patients. Your patients would be of all ages. Your focus must be to help them execute strategies for accomplishing their daily tasks. This would include their home, work and leisure activities.
As an occupational therapist, you must be a team player. You will perform your patient care duties as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team that includes GPs, nurses and allied healthcare professionals. To best assist their patients, you will also work closely with their support networks, such as family members, carers, teachers and employers.
When working as an occupational therapist, your work can differ significantly. On the one hand, an occupational therapist working in mental health services might assist a patient with stress management techniques. On the other, a therapist employed by rehabilitation services will focus on how to modify the home environment of a patient.
What are the Core Job Responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist
An occupational therapist will have the following core job responsibilities:
- You will need to perform patient assessments. This will focus on the activities of daily living/
- Developing and implementing individualised patient treatment plans is an important part of the job.
- Beyond this, you must evaluate treatment plans. This means making adjustments as necessary based on a patient’s progress.
- Throughout this process, you must maintain patient records. You will also need to write case reports.
- Occupational therapists also need to schedule clinical consultations regarding patient care with other healthcare providers. Sometimes you will need to refer patients to other specialists.
- Communication is central. This is because you need to teach patients how to use equipment. You will also need to help them navigate their work or home environments.
You will also work with the wider healthcare family, including many other highly specialised professionals.
Who Employs Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists in the Republic of Ireland are mainly employed in the publicly-funded health service. They are all public employees of the Health and Safety Executive.
How Do Occupational Therapists Get Paid
Occupational therapists get paid through the public sector. As an occupational therapist in Ireland, you will receive a salary every month.
Job Salary for an Occupational Therapist in Ireland
Occupational therapist salaries can vary quite significantly. This usually depends on an Occupational therapist’s experience and seniority.
There are also a variety of sources for how much an occupational therapist is paid. One source says the average occupational therapist’s salary is €50,134 per year. Another source pegs it at €36,480. This is based on data such as years of service and typical career progression.
In addition to this, occupational therapists practising in Dublin will usually earn at least 10% more than in other parts of Ireland. This is because of the much higher cost of living in Dublin.
General Salary Levels in Ireland
Some other figures are useful. These will allow you to compare the occupational therapist salary in Ireland with other professions. And they will show how an occupational therapist’s salary in Ireland is relatively well-paid.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the national average salary in Ireland is €45,324. That’s a salary after tax of €34,815 a year. It is also equivalent to €2,901 a month. Or you can look at it as €670 a week.
A good salary in Ireland is said to start at €45,000 across the country. This rises to €50,000 in Dublin. Overall, this translates to €2,887 every month after tax. It is also equivalent to €3,102 monthly before tax.
Further, the current Minimum Wage in Ireland is €11.30. This must be paid to people aged 20 and over. This means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is €452. Per month this works out to just under €2000. It is also equivalent to around €23,500 per year.
How Often Is an Occupational Therapist Normally Paid
As an occupational therapist, you can normally expect to be paid a salary every month. You and the other occupational therapists in the team will be paid at the same time.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for an Occupational Therapist
The basic salary levels of Occupational Therapists are set through negotiations. These happen between the government of Ireland and the union representing occupational therapists. Pay for occupational therapists is organised within pay scales that are updated annually.
What Sort of Contracts Do Occupational Therapists Have
As an occupational therapist, you will have permanent contracts with your employers. This will mean these contracts set out all of your terms of employment. Additionally, they will be standard contracts.
After completion of the necessary training, occupational therapists’ pay can increase significantly. Further, this is likely to continue throughout your career.
How to Become an Occupational Therapist
The road to becoming an occupational therapist in Ireland is a long and thorough one. These factors reflect the unique responsibilities and duties of the role.
Understanding the educational and training requirements to become an occupational therapist is important if you want to become one. To do this you will need to have an occupational therapy degree first.
You will also need to be able to demonstrate a good level of English to be employed as an occupational therapist.
Qualifications/Courses – Occupational Therapist
To become an occupational therapist, you will first need to get a degree in occupational therapy. You earn this from a university which offers a course in occupational therapy.
There are several schools in Ireland where you can study occupational therapy. These are the National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, and University College Cork. In all of these locations, these courses take 4 years to complete.
Additionally, there is also an accelerated postgraduate training programme at the University of Limerick. This is a 2-year course.
Additionally, it is important to know that all four programmes are accredited by the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland. They are also approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and CORU.
Whichever of these educational routes you choose, part of your course will involve going on a clinical placement in an Occupational Therapy service. This will give you hands-on experience under the supervision of an occupational therapist. This training will involve supporting a range of different people. It will encompass people of different age groups and also people who have recently acquired and long-standing health needs.
A big part of your training will also focus on the person, the occupation, and the environment.
Although postgraduate training isn’t necessary for employment as an occupational therapist, this is something many do. Indeed, a master’s degree in occupational therapy can help with your career progression.
Other courses in Ireland offer both online and face-to-face teaching in occupational therapy studies. However, these courses do not qualify you to become an occupational therapist. This is because they do not meet the World Federation of Occupational Therapy Minimum standards.
Registering as an Occupational Therapist
All occupational therapists need to be registered with CORU. This is Ireland’s multi-profession health regulator. After you’ve earned a degree and fulfilled the practice education requirement, you must then register with CORU. Once you have done this you can obtain employment in the field and call yourself an occupational therapist. This is because the Health and Social Care Professionals Act of 2005 protects the title of an occupational therapist. The registration board also ensures compliance with continuing professional development requirements for occupational therapists.
General Skills Required
- Excellent problem-solving and diagnostic skills are essential.
- You must have strong emotional resilience. Occupational therapists also need a calm temperament. Further, you must be able to work well under pressure is required.
- You will also need to be able to put patients at their ease. It means being able to gain their confidence. This needs empathy.
- Additionally, occupational therapists need to be very good listeners. You will need to do this to respond to patient concerns. You must remain focused on what another person is saying. Following this, you must thoughtfully respond to their concerns. This means active listening skills.
- Occupational therapists also must be able to work sensitively and constructively with patient fears.
- Excellent communication skills are needed. This is because you will be working with a wide variety of different people from different walks of life. There will usually be a wide variety of ages too. Remember that this could include the families of patients as well as the patient themselves.
- You must be a good team player. This means having the ability to work constructively with others working in health care.
- A clean Garda vetting check is also required. This is because you will be working with children or vulnerable adults. This system of Garda vetting is conducted by the Garda Siochána National Vetting Bureau. It works by sending a vetting disclosure to the organisation that requested one.
Challenges of Being an Occupational Therapist
- Emotional resilience is absolutely essential for you as an occupational Therapist. Indeed, all areas of health care are high-stress environments.
- You will also need to maintain a professional outlook. That means treating the public with respect. Indeed, no matter how difficult a patient is being, professionalism is essential to you as an occupational therapist.
- No two days are the same when you are an occupational therapist. Indeed, you must always be prepared for the unexpected. This can be exciting but also challenging at times.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- An extremely caring and thoughtful person makes a good occupational therapist.
- A person with a genuine interest in healthcare makes a good occupational therapist.
- You will also need to be someone with a calm outlook. This includes the ability to deal with stress.
- You also need to be a team player. This can mean taking direction from more senior team members.
- Additionally, you will need to be someone willing to learn as your career progresses.
- You also need to be a responsible person. You must be dedicated to the care of a patient for the duration of their rehabilitation.
General Expected Working Hours
You can expect to work a normal forty-hour week.
Location of Work
As an occupational therapist, you could work in a variety of settings, including hospitals or community rehabilitation services. You could also work in physical and sensory disability services, child and adolescent services or mental health services. Additionally, there are opportunities in multidisciplinary primary care teams or voluntary organisations. You could also work in private practice.
It is possible to build a successful and well-paid career as an occupational therapist. You might become an occupational therapist specialist in a certain type of occupational therapy. Sometimes you will need to do additional training to achieve this.
Outside traditional career routes, you could also enter education and become a lecturer. Following this path, you can then progress and become a senior lecturer in occupational therapy.
Finally, there are options for very experienced occupational therapists to go into health management. By doing this you might end up as a Director of Therapy for a hospital.