Alternative therapies

Career outlook for osteopath

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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.


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.


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

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Observation
  • Empathising
  • Social conscience
  • Attention to detail

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that's right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

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


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