Become an Osteopath

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These are a summary of our findings if you are thinking you may want to work as an Osteopath

1. Osteopaths are healthcare professionals helping patients suffering from a wide range of muscle or joint complaints, using a variety of approaches.

2. Many osteopaths work on a self-employed, freelance basis. They may advertise their services or, as is commonly the case, patients may be referred to them by doctors.

3. Alternatively, as an osteopath you may find work in a local clinic or hospital, with some members of the profession successfully combining freelance work with fixed positions.

4. By law, only graduates of courses recognised by the Privy Council and approved by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) are permitted to practice.

5. Degree courses in osteopathy consist involve up to four years full-time, or six years part-time training.

6. The British School of Osteopathy offers a one-year part-time Access to Higher Education Diploma for older students without any academic qualifications.

7. According to the National Careers Service, the average salary for a newly-qualified osteopath is between £15,000 and £20,000 a year, though salaries rise with experience.

What Do Osteopaths Do?

Osteopaths are healthcare professionals specialising in treating the neuro-musculo-skeletal system. In layman’s terms, this means that they mainly help patients suffering from a wide range of muscle or joint complaints, using a variety of approaches.

More so than many other healthcare providers, osteopaths work closely with their patients, often addressing areas such their diet, posture, stress levels and exercise habits and working with them to devise an effective course of treatment.

Many osteopaths work on a self-employed, freelance basis. They may advertise their services or, as is commonly the case, patients may be referred to them by doctors. Alternatively, as an osteopath you may find work in a local clinic or hospital, with some members of the profession successfully combining freelance work with more regular, fixed positions.

Core areas of an osteopath’s work include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Assessing a patient’s posture and checking for restrictions or pain in joints or muscles.
  • Interpreting X-Rays and MRI results to diagnose potential problems.
  • Working alongside patients to plan an effective course of treatment, often recommending lifestyle and dietary changes.
  • Referring patients to other specialists, as and when this is required.
  • Dealing with day-to-day administration. In the case of self-employed osteopaths, this may  include bookkeeping, dealing with taxes, marketing and managing auxiliary staff.

Becoming an Osteopath

In the UK, as well as across much of Europe, osteopathy is a highly-regulated profession, with strict rules governing who is allowed to practice. By law, only graduates of courses recognised by the Privy Council and approved by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) are permitted to practice.

The Qualifications Needed

As of 2013, there are around a dozen institutions across the UK offering courses recognised by the GOsC. These include:

Academic Training: Degree courses in osteopathy consist involve up to four years full-time, or six years part-time training, with classroom-based learning complemented by practical experience. Some of the institutions offering undergraduate course in osteopathy include:

  • The British School of Osteopathy
  • The British College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Leeds Metropolitan University
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Swansea University

Entry requirements may vary between institutions, though generally speaking, you will be required to have a minimum of 300 UCAS points, including at least 100 from biology or a related discipline, while you should also hold GCSE English and Maths at grade C or above.

Alongside academic qualifications, course providers may also ask you to demonstrate a keen interest in the field of osteopathy, as well as show an ability to work independently, solve complex problems and empathise with others.

If you have few or no academic qualifications, then you may still be able to pursue a career in the field. The British School of Osteopathy offers a one-year part-time Access to Higher Education Diploma, with graduates of the course guaranteed a place on a full degree programme.

Continued Professional Training Once Qualified

Once you’ve qualified as an osteopath, you will be required to register with the GOsC and then show evidence of ongoing professional development in order to be able to renew your accreditation with the body. As a qualified osteopath, you will be required to complete at least 30 hours of relevant training each year as part of the GOsC’s compulsory continuing professional development (CPD) programme.

At the same time, you may also want to undertake training in other fields in order to boost your career prospects. Alongside moving to specialise in sports injuries or paediatrics, many osteopaths take courses in accountancy or business administration in order to make themselves more employable.

Benefits of Working as an Osteopath

According to the National Careers Service, the average salary for a newly-qualified osteopath is between £15,000 and £20,000 a year. With experience and further training, these can rise to as much as £40,000 a year, with osteopaths working in private practice potentially earning even more.

Self-employed osteopaths, meanwhile, usually charge by the hour, with rates ranging from £30 to £50 per hour, depending on experience and location.

Aside from the financial benefits, osteopathy may also be a rewarding career if you enjoy working with people, have a keen interest in the human body and how it works and are enjoy working under your own initiative. 

Finding Work

A significant proportion of osteopaths work on a self-employed basis and, if this is the path you want to go down, then it’s more a case of proactively looking for new clients rather than looking for fixed positions.

The British Osteopathic Association, see http://www.osteopathy.org/, offers guidance on going it alone, including guides to dealing with tax issues and marketing your services.

At the same time, there are also fixed positions available to fully-qualified osteopaths. The National Health Service (NHS) employs specialist osteopaths in hospitals, GP surgeries and community health clubs.

As well as using our site search, you can check out the NHS Jobs Website for current opportunities.

Meanwhile, a smaller number of openings can be found in the private sector, for instance working for major companies with their own medical facilities for staff or working for large sports clubs or gyms. Online jobs sites as well as specialist journals such as The Osteopath from the GOsC are good places to search for these opportunities.

Further Reading

Learn more about the typical working day of an osteopath with the help of the British Osteopathic Association 

If you don't fancy becoming an Osteopath then there are other jobs within the health career sector you could consider like becoming a Dental Technician or see all our current job profiles.

If you need help making a decision then why not visit your JobCentre in person and speak to a career advisor? We have all the details of where your local jobcentreplus office is on our site.


 
 
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