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? Do you want a rewarding career where you can earn an average salary of £45,000 as a clinician? Then a career as an osteopath may be for you. Osteopaths treat patients of all ages and from all walks of life including sportspeople, actors and dancers, children, older people and expectant mothers.
If you want to become an osteopath, there are a number of personal attributes that are required:
- Interest in people and how the body works
- Ability to work by yourself and be independent
- Ability to work with others
- A scientific enquiring mind
- Curiosity and creativity
- Independence and individuality
CASE STUDY: Andrew McMillian – Osteopath / Engineering Technician
People who have been in the armed forces have a great set of transferable skills that are credit to any NHS organisation. Read the real story of Andrew McMillian who became an osteopath after serving for the armed forces.
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 combine 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 practice 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
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 (DBS) check. You will further need to be ‘fit to practice’. This means showing appropriate professional behaviours and adhering to the values outlined in the General Osteopathic Council‘s (GOsC) Osteopathic Practice Standards.
Working as an osteopath
By law, to practice as an osteopath in the UK, you must have a recognised qualification, and be registered with GOsC. There are currently in the region of 5,241 qualified osteopaths (May 2018) registered with GOsC.
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 seven 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.