If you have a love of animals, are good at sciences and would enjoy living and working in a rural environment, a career as an Animal Physiotherapist could be what you are looking for.
Your job would involve working in consultation with veterinary practices and private clients assessing and providing treatment for animals with injuries or movement problems. You would need to be observant, have good problem solving skills, have an aptitude for science and work well as part of a team. You must also be confident handling and working with animals.
There are some opportunities in private practices, veterinary hospitals or with universities but you would generally run your own animal physiotherapy business.
As an animal physiotherapist you would work mainly with horses, dogs and cats, including both working animals and pets.
Your daily tasks would include; planning exercise programmes, applying massage and hydrotherapy treatments to improve normal movement and reduce pain, and using electro and magnetic therapy methods to help recuperation from injury. You would also offer advice to your clients on the ongoing care and management of their animal’s condition.
You would usually work in close consultation with veterinary practices and carry out treatments for conditions which have been previously diagnosed or work with injured animals that have been referred to you.
Your patients might include family pets or working animals such as sheep dogs, gundogs etc. Horse work would cover pleasure animals, valuable competition horses, hunters and racehorses.
Your hours could be either full-time or part-time and would be flexible, built around the needs of your clients. The majority of your work would be carried out at client’s premises/homes or in veterinary surgeries or hospitals.
You would need to hold a full driving licence for this job.
Most animal physiotherapists are self-employed and your salary would depend upon the hours you work, the type of clients you have and your workload. Your hourly rate could be anything from £20 to £70 per hour.
For this position you would need to complete a university degree in human physiotherapy together with post graduate training in veterinary physiotherapy. Alternatively, you could complete a degree and post graduate training in veterinary physiotherapy. Either of these options would mean at least four years’ study including a year’s training placement.
Training and development
Once you are qualified as an animal physiotherapist, you will need to attend regular short courses and training in order to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. You may be required to undertake a set number of hours’ training annually to remain registered with your chosen professional body.
If you were particularly interested in research and have an MSc qualification, you might choose to complete a PhD.
As you would be working on a self-employed basis, additional training in business management would be advantageous.
Other career options
If you don’t attain the higher level qualifications, you may still be able to work in a related field. You could train in animal massage and hydrotherapy for small animals, for example. Your local veterinary surgery or hospital may be able to offer work experience opportunities or put you in contact with local physiotherapy practitioners who might be able to give you some advice on entering this area of work.
http://www.csp.org.uk (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy)
http://www.acpat.org (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy)
http://www.ceptraining.co.uk (Canine and Equine Physiotherapy Training)
http://www.irvap.org.uk (Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists)
http://www.navp.co.uk (National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists)