There is at present no formal career structure for osteopaths and no common framework to acknowledge their development after registration. This has resulted in a lack of clarity around the career development options for osteopaths after they graduate. There are no generally agreed methods by which more senior practitioners can be recognised professionally.
There are some postgraduate diplomas but no common framework for evaluating them. There are a few doctorate programmes but holders of these are rare. There are a number of postgraduate colleges offering membership to practitioners with an interest in particular aspects of practice but the criteria for membership vary widely (see Clinical Practice project).
This may make it difficult for employers and members of the public to evaluate practitioners. Compared to many other professions, the majority of osteopaths are self-employed. As such, there are few employer career structures such as large private practices or the NHS, to offer a recognisable ‘career ladder’. This means that some osteopaths may struggle to understand how best to advance their career.