Animal therapy degree – How do you become a qualified animal therapist?

Careers that involve working with animals are highly sought-after. Many professionals in animal-related careers enjoy enhanced well-being and a feeling of accomplishment, reward, and responsibility, which often means they can’t imagine working in another sector. Whether you’ve always worked alongside animals, or you’ve always wanted to, there’s no denying the draw of the opportunity. So, if you’re considering a career in animal therapy, manual therapy, or animal osteopathy, what’s the first step to reaching your goal? Here, you can discover how to become an animal osteopath.

What qualifications do you need to become a practicing animal therapist?

The exact qualifications that you need to practice as an animal therapist will depend on your starting point. If you’re currently a student, with no prior experience or qualifications in animal-related careers, you would need to undertake substantial training in the form of an animal therapy degree or diploma. If you already have transferable skills and qualifications in animal care or science, there are fast-track options available to attain an animal therapy or manual therapy degree. It’s important to remember that, if you choose to specialise in certain species, for example, equine or bovine, you may need to do additional qualifications.

What are the entry requirements for an animal therapy degree course?

Most animal therapy or animal osteopathy degree course providers will ask for at least one A level of grade C or above in a science-based subject. Equivalent qualifications include a BTEC in science or animal-related subjects or similar Level 3 diplomas. However, if you have relevant qualifications and experience that aren’t listed, it’s worth contacting your chosen school for confirmation.

How long does an animal therapy degree take to complete?

An animal therapy degree, similar manual therapy degree, or animal osteopathy degree would take around three to five years, depending on the school you attend. If you already have qualifications and experience in animal or science-related careers and are just looking for a new career challenge, you can do a shorter Continued Professional Development course to help you transition your knowledge and skills. Your end goal and animal therapy career aspirations will also affect the length of your studies because if you choose to specialise and become an animal therapist for cats, dogs, or other animals, your specialist qualifications will extend your studies. On the other hand, there are options available to study and develop a specialism alongside working as an animal therapist, which will allow you to begin earning a salary while studying.

What does an animal therapy degree course involve?

The aim of an animal therapy degree course isn’t just to provide you with the knowledge base to practice effectively. The course should also prepare you for the role and job description of an animal therapist. This includes developing practical skills and having plenty of hands-on experience with live animals. This combination of studying, practical sessions, and time spent working at stables, farms, or rescue centres provides valuable insight into the career that lies ahead.

What can you do with an animal therapy degree?

In the UK, an animal therapy degree does not allow you the title of ‘Animal Osteopath’ (unless you are a qualified human osteopath). However, it does mean that you can practice as an ‘Animal Therapist’, offering manual therapy to improve the comfort and well-being of many animal species. You may choose to work alongside a veterinary practice, within a team of animal therapists, or as a self-employed therapist. After all, one of the appealing factors of a career in animal therapy is the variety and flexibility it offers. 


An animal therapy career is within reach whether you’re a student planning your future or an established professional looking for a career change. If you’ve got more questions about how to become an animal therapist, or whether this is the career for you, you can learn more about animal therapy here.

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