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Animal Physical Therapy Schools and Training

animal physical therapy schools

Learn About Animal Therapists and Animal Massage Therapy Careers

Just as increasing numbers of people are seeking out alternative treatment methods, many animal owners are also turning to healing therapies that complement traditional veterinary medicine. Animal physical therapy schools can lead to a rewarding career improving the health of our furry companions using many of the same natural therapeutic modalities that humans find effective, from acupuncture to animal massage therapy.

Sometimes animal therapy training is confused with Animal Assisted Therapy, which is the use of animals to assist in the healing of human patients with chronic diseases or other conditions. This article will look at training and careers in the healing of animals themselves.

Animal Therapist Career Overview

Animal therapy practitioners generally fall into two categories:

  • Veterinary specialists who have been trained in alternative healing methods for animals.
  • Natural healers who are also trained in using similar techniques on people. They work with pets, service animals, livestock, and racing or performance animals such as horses and dogs.

Veterinarians with animal therapy training incorporate therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine or chiropractic along with modern medical approaches. In contrast, dedicated animal therapists may have initially trained in a particular natural healing modality such as biofeedback or flower essences before going on to specialize in animals.

Training and Education

What You’ll Study in Animal Therapy School

The focus of your animal therapy training will vary depending on whether you’re studying veterinary medicine or alternative healing. Veterinary students may take elective courses in alternative methods of healing, such as herbal medicine. If, on the other hand, you’re studying a specific field of natural health like massage, you might choose to take courses in animal massage therapy, and learn about animal anatomy and massage techniques.

Average Animal Therapist Length of Study

Veterinary college requires 4 years of graduate school leading to a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. A veterinary technician usually holds a 2-year associate degree or 4-year bachelor’s degree. Natural health programs vary widely in length. Massage therapists may be able to finish in as little as a few months, while chiropractic study usually takes 4 years.

Animal Therapy Certification

Veterinarians must be licensed to practice in any of the 50 states. Certification requirements vary for animal therapists, depending on state laws governing specific therapeutic practices. Some practices may not be regulated, and in those cases, certification may be voluntary.

Career Outlook

Alternative medicine is not just gaining favor with pet owners seeking a more holistic way of caring for their animals, it’s also becoming more popular in fields such as conservation and livestock production. This is good news for anyone thinking about animal therapy training.

Animal Therapist Salary

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can research salary and job growth outlook for veterinarians here:

Veterinarians

National data

Median Salary: $99,250

Bottom 10%: $60,690

Top 10%: $164,490

Projected job growth: 16.8%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $88,290 $54,550 $144,450
Alaska $90,740 $44,700 $165,780
Arizona $99,640 $49,940 $156,010
Arkansas $105,710 $63,660 $166,440
California $110,710 $70,890 $167,820
Colorado $92,780 $58,670 $139,480
Connecticut $101,090 $74,650 $163,040
Delaware $102,060 $69,220 $168,810
District of Columbia $128,910 $89,780 $171,420
Florida $100,730 $58,870 $166,710
Georgia $91,790 $59,770 $133,810
Hawaii $102,240 $57,580 $155,810
Idaho $99,050 $52,140 $187,260
Illinois $96,530 $68,010 $148,760
Indiana $94,060 $67,240 $138,550
Iowa $87,630 $57,320 $130,200
Kansas $84,760 $43,770 $142,290
Kentucky $85,950 $34,620 $139,700
Louisiana $86,380 $54,230 $141,410
Maine $102,860 $63,520 $130,480
Maryland $120,980 $58,760 $186,390
Massachusetts $103,660 $69,590 $166,160
Michigan $96,790 $67,220 $156,670
Minnesota $93,010 $60,080 $125,090
Mississippi $82,270 $57,030 $131,650
Missouri $88,970 $55,040 $128,070
Montana $81,560 $44,440 $122,010
Nebraska $81,730 $60,710 $109,850
Nevada $97,130 $84,040 $126,180
New Hampshire $102,480 $71,260 $163,220
New Jersey $116,910 $79,800 $188,870
New Mexico $90,200 $19,230 $128,790
New York $111,370 $58,320 $191,050
North Carolina $101,320 $70,420 $196,430
North Dakota $91,640 $68,270 $156,590
Ohio $100,920 $68,790 $196,780
Oklahoma $66,860 $41,250 $129,330
Oregon $106,040 $67,470 $206,880
Pennsylvania $109,210 $63,930 $163,840
Rhode Island $113,530 $85,850 $181,860
South Carolina $99,270 $65,530 $161,870
South Dakota $74,620 $54,170 $131,060
Tennessee $94,530 $49,090 $157,410
Texas $107,810 $69,350 $172,550
Utah $88,960 $60,980 $138,900
Vermont $99,820 $61,770 $149,680
Virginia $99,460 $65,270 N/A
Washington $99,340 $71,530 $137,380
West Virginia $96,850 $70,300 $159,280
Wisconsin $87,130 $62,280 $171,330
Wyoming $85,840 $57,580 $127,640

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Sources: American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, University of Wyoming: Dept. of Veterinary Sciences, International Alliance for Animal Therapy and Healing, National Academy of Massage Therapy and Healing Science, Therapet Foundation.