National Careers Week: Become an Animal Physiotherapist

In honour of National Careers Week 2017, we’re profiling some of the latest jobs from Careers 2017.

Next in the list of roles is Animal Physiotherapist – download a PDF of this job profile here:

Animal Physiotherapist job profile

Qualifications and courses

There are several ways to qualify as an animal physiotherapist. The most typical is for a candidate to undertake a degree in human physiotherapy followed by a 2-year Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Science (MSc) in Veterinary Physiotherapy at either the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) or University of the West of England. You will need the highest level A levels/H grades in Maths and a science for entry onto an undergraduate degree course and entry onto a postgraduate course requires a suitable first degree, in equine sciences for example, of at least a 2.1 standard; however veterinary nurses with 4 years’ experience are also considered. Upon completion, you can then become a member of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT).

Alternatively, you can train for 2 years with a fully qualified member of ACPAT and complete the ACPAT education course or complete an animal physiotherapy course, such as the Certificate in Animal Physiotherapy offered by the National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists (NAVP).

The College of Animal Physiotherapy also offers a Diploma in Animal Physiotherapy. This course lasts 1 to 2 years, part time. If you successfully complete this course you will be accepted into the International Association of Animal Therapists (IAAT).

Canine and Equine Physiotherapy Training (CEPT) offers an Advanced Certificate in Veterinary Physiotherapy. This course lasts 2 years, part time, and entry requires a good working knowledge of animal care and a relevant higher or further education qualification.

What the work involves

Animals suffer from joint and muscular pain in the same way that humans do. As a result, animal physiotherapy has become a regular part of animal care. You would be used by many domestic pet owners and even more so by horse owners. Techniques you will use may include soft tissue mobilisation, ultrasound (including long-wave), neuromuscular stimulation, joint mobilisation, magnetic field therapy, hydrotherapy and massage.

Type of person suited to this work

  • You must love animals and want to help in their recovery process.
  • Whilst you will spend a vast majority of your time working closely with animals, this job does also involve working alongside veterinarians and owners so you will have to be able to communicate clearly with people too!
  • Working with animals can be messy and smelly, so you must be prepared to get dirty.
  • You should expect the work to be occasionally distressing, especially if the animal is injured or dies.
  • You will need to have good dexterity and be physically fit.
  • You should have experience of working with animals and the ability to match treatments with problems.

Working conditions

  • You will be working in clinics, clients’ homes, farmyards and/or stables.
  • You could be indoors or outside in all weathers.
  • A driving licence is essential for some posts and you will normally wear protective clothing. This job will probably involve some heavy lifting and you will need to be physically fit.
  • Some assignments will involve evening and weekend work, especially if you visit your clients and animals in their own homes.
  • As most animal physiotherapists are self-employed, working hours must be flexible to suit the client.
  • Good business skills are essential if self-employed.

Future prospects

This profession is extremely competitive and employs very small numbers. Work experience will improve your chances of employment.

Some of the larger animal welfare charities and veterinary surgeries employ animal physiotherapists; however most are self-employed running their own practices. To be successful you will need to build up a client list and have good business skills. There is not a structured career path in place.

With experience you could work as a lecturer or consultant.

Advantages/disadvantages

  • You will be working with animals, perhaps helping them to have a better quality of life.
  • Some aspects of the job may be messy and smelly.
  • There is the opportunity for self-employment.
  • Some heavy lifting will be required.

Money guide

  • Many working in this area are self-employed; average fees are around £20 to £70 for each consultation.
  • The average starting salary is about £18,500 per year; this can increase to around £20,000–£25,000 with experience.
  • As a senior animal physiotherapist or consultant you could earn up to £65,000 a year.

Further information


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