Operating department practitioner


Career outlook for operating department practitioner

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would care for patients before, during and after an operation. You’d make sure that the operating theatre and the equipment is prepared for the surgical team.

You would:

  • Prepare the operating theatre
  • Prepare equipment such as drips, instruments, dressings and swabs
  • Check the cleanliness of the operating theatre
  • Make sure specialist equipment is available for specific procedures
  • Give the surgical team items during an operation – often called 'circulating duties'
  • Monitor instruments
  • Order drugs and other items
  • Rotate items which can be used more than once
  • Keep accurate records

You might also assess patients before they can come into a surgical ward. You could also review the care they have received at each stage.

If your department has trainee ODPs you might coach and mentor them. In some jobs you might also train other healthcare professionals, such as trainee paramedics.

You would normally work in an anaesthetic, surgical or recovery team. However, you could also work in areas like:

  • Accident and emergency
  • Intensive care
  • Day surgery clinics
  • Maternity units
  • Resuscitation teams

Health and safety is very important in this job, particularly controlling infection. Patient confidentiality is also vital.

You can see more about the role on the operating department practitioner page on the NHS Careers website.

Working conditions


You would usually work 37.5 hours a week on a shift system covering evenings, nights and weekends. Overtime and on-call duty is also common in order to deal with emergencies. Part-time work may be possible


You would mainly work in sterile conditions in pre-operative anaesthetic areas, operating theatres and recovery rooms. These areas are clean and light but can be warm. You would wear surgical clothing and a mask. Working in the theatre can be emotionally and physically demanding, and involve standing for long periods.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.


You would need a diploma of Higher Education (SCFQ level 9/10) or degree qualification in Operating Department Practice (SCFQ level 9/10) approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

There is only one HCPC-approved BSc Operating Department Practice Degree (SCQF level 9/10) in Scotland, offered by Glasgow Caledonian University. You need National 5 qualifications and four Highers at BBCC.

Useful subjects

Most courses require 

  • English
  • Maths
  • Biology 
  • Other science subjects

You will also need

  • To pass a pre-entry medical test
  • To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland. 
  • Over 18 years old

Helpful to have

Experience and qualifications related to hospital work such as:

  • Health and Social Care (SCQF level 6)
  • Scottish Vocational Qualifications in Healthcare Support (SVQ level 2/3)

Experience in hospital work.