Life as an Osteopath

The ESO’s broad osteopathic programme provides every skill you need to start your own osteopathic practice

Osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners, which means that they deal with patients who can refer themselves rather than coming via a doctor, and in consequence an osteopath must have differential diagnostic skills of a high order. They primarily work on the musculoskeletal system but can also work on the viscera (the contents of the abdomen) and the cranio-sacral mechanism, which involves palpation of the cerebrospinal fluid channels. Osteopaths look at the body as a whole.

Most Osteopaths are self-employed and it is possible for newly qualified, registered practitioners to set up their own practice upon graduation. However, most choose to start working in an established practice with other osteopaths or other qualified complementary therapists.  Many osteopaths choose to work in general practice, where they will see a variety of patients ranging from newborns to the elderly.  Sports injury clinics are a common attraction to those with active backgrounds or experience in the field of sport, whilst mother and baby clinics are popular with those who love working with children.  Animal osteopathy is an increasingly popular option for those looking to widen their field of practice – you can find more information about the ESO’s animal courses here.

At the time of writing, there are in the region of 5,000 qualified osteopaths registered with the General Osteopathic Council. Since it became the first complementary therapy to gain statutory recognition, the demand for, and popularity of treatment has been steadily increasing. Today osteopaths carry out around 7 million treatments in the UK alone, increasingly within the NHS.

Most osteopaths working in private practice, either on their own or with other healthcare professionals. Earnings will vary, depending on how many patients one sees, and how and where one works.

Graduates of the School are enabled immediately following graduation to register with the General Osteopathic Council and enter into full-time osteopathic practice.

International Students – Practising in the UK

In 2020, the UK Government introduced the Graduation Immigration Route. From Summer 2021, International students (which includes EU, EEA and Swiss students) who have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree are able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK upon graduation. You can find out more here.

Practising Outside of the UK

Many ESO graduates choose to set up practice overseas. We recommend that those planning to practise outside the UK investigate the legal position in their chosen destination country before embarking on a course of study; the Forum for Osteopathic Regulation in Europe (FORE) website provides guidance on the regulations within Europe.


Visit our ‘Meet our Alumni‘ page to find out where a degree from the ESO could take you.