Do you enjoy working with a wide variety of people? Are you interested in the health and wellbeing of others? Do you have excellent communication and coordination skills and a good head for business? Then a career as an osteopath maybe for you.
Osteopathy is an enormously rewarding career. Osteopaths treat patients of all ages and from all walks of life including sportspeople, actors and dancers, children, older people and expectant mothers.
Working as an osteopath
By law, to practice as an osteopath in the UK, you must have a recognised qualification, and be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). There are currently in the region of 5,212 qualified osteopaths (March 2017) registered with the General Osteopathic Council.
Since 1993, when osteopathy became the first complementary therapy to gain statutory recognition, the demand for and popularity of treatment has been steadily increasing. Today osteopaths carry out around 7 million treatments in the UK alone, increasingly within the NHS.
Osteopathy is a flexible profession, with most osteopaths working in private practice, either on their own or with other healthcare professionals. Earnings will vary, depending on how many patients an osteopath sees, and how and where they work. On average, osteopaths charge between £35 and £50 per treatment.
Training as an osteopath
Osteopaths are trained to degree standard attaining either Batchelor of Science (BSc.) or integrated Masters (MOst.) level. Courses typically last four years full-time or five years part-time and are a combination of academic and over 1,000 hours of clinical training.
Training as an osteopath includes in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology, together with nutrition, biomechanics, pathology and pharmacology. Research skills, marketing and business communications are also included in most programmes.
Completion of the degree and registration with the regulator allows you to practise as a fully qualified osteopath.
Entry requirements vary but typically you will need Level 3/higher level qualifications in health or science subjects. Course provider websites will outline their current requirements – some osteopathic institutions provide an access or bridging course to help school leavers qualify and/or mature applicants for entry. If you have qualified as a doctor or physiotherapist, you may be able to take an accelerated course.
Where to train
Please click here to view a list of recognised training providers.
The standard of osteopathic education provided in the UK is highly respected internationally and UK-trained osteopaths are in demand around the world. However, regulations for using the title ‘osteopath’ can differ from country to country – if you plan to work abroad you should investigate the requirements of that country before embarking on a course of study.
Tuition fees vary between institutions. If you are a UK/EU applicant and do not already hold a degree level qualification you can apply to Student Finance England for a loan to help with fees and living costs.
As you may work with children and/or vulnerable adults, you will also be required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service check. You will further need to be ‘fit to practise’. This means showing appropriate professional behaviours and adhering to the values outlined in the GOsC’s Osteopathic Practice Standards.