Osteopath

Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would use your hands to manipulate or put pressure on people’s bodies. You’d aim to help the person feel better by helping them to develop muscles, bones, ligaments, nerves and joints that work efficiently together.

You would work see people with different problems including:

  • Older people with arthritis
  • Babies with colic
  • Adults with lower back pain
  • People recovering from a sports injury
  • Women experiencing posture changes caused by pregnancy

To find out what is wrong, you would ask the person about their health and medical history. You’d examine how they sit, stand and walk, paying particular attention to their muscles, ligaments and vertebrae. You might also use X-rays to help with your diagnosis.

You would then plan a course of treatment for the person. This would involve using gentle, hands-on techniques such as:

  • Joint mobilisation
  • Manipulation
  • Massage
  • Deep pressure

You’d use your highly-developed sense of touch to reduce swelling, ease pain, locate strains and increase mobility.

As part of the treatment you would also advise people about their diet and lifestyle. And you might give clients exercises to do at home.

Osteopathy is a complementary or alternative therapy. You would not use not use surgery or drugs.

People will trust you to do your best to help them and look to you for reassurance. But if you can’t resolve the person’s problem you’d refer them to a doctor or another complementary therapist. People might also be referred to you by their GP.

This work can be physically demanding.

Having the administrative skills to run your own business, such as marketing and financial management, would also be useful.

Working conditions

Hours

You are likely to be self-employed, so flexible working hours may be possible. Your hours will depend on the number of clients you have. You may need to cover some evenings and weekends to fit in with their needs.

Environment

You will carry out your work in a consulting room, although you may treat patients in their own homes. This work can be physically demanding.

Travel

You may treat patients in their own homes. For this reason, the ability to drive would be an advantage.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Caring for people
  • Working with your hands
  • Being physically fit
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Paying attention to detail

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) and/or postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) in osteopathy.

There are currently no osteopathic courses in Scotland, but to enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in osteopathic medicine elsewhere in the UK requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers (SCQF level 6). Some courses may require Advanced Highers (SCQF level 7) or equivalent for entry.

If you are already a medical practitioner or physiotherapist you can take a shorter course through the College of Osteopaths.  

Useful subjects

Most courses require: 

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science subjects 

You will also need

  • To register with the General Council and Register of Naturopaths (GCRN) once you are qualified.
  • To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland for some jobs