7. Career development

The career development project is designed to map how osteopaths currently progress their careers in order to provide recommendations and guidance and to evaluate the need for a more defined career structure within the profession.

Why is career development relevant to me?

A career structure within osteopathy would encourage osteopaths to continue developing their skills and help to ensure high standards of care for their patients.

How can I get involved?

To assist osteopaths considering where next to take their career, the ODG has developed a Career Development Project document. This maps out some of the most common existing osteopathic pathways options available, including the benefits and issues to consider. Case studies of osteopaths who have developed their osteopathic careers are also included.

For more information about this project, contact the project lead Matthew Rogers.

Looking for career development opportunities? Have you considered volunteering? Volunteering can be an excellent route to help enhance your skills and develop your career.

For a list of organisations with potential volunteering opportunities and to read about first hand experiences visit the iO’s volunteering page

Project background


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 Advanced 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.

The focus of this project is to map the current pathways taken by osteopaths in terms of career growth and to evaluate the need for a more clearly defined career pathway.

Initial research phase/s


Original research was conducted by the Osteopathic Development Group between January and December 2014. This included a literature review of published research, unpublished ‘grey’ literature and key reports made available to the research team. In addition, 6 semi-structured interviews have been completed with osteopaths who have successfully progressed their careers beyond the level of initial practice in a number of different fields (that include professional practice, advanced clinical skills, the NHS, professional regulation and management, academia and education). This data was analysed and published in the Osteopathy Today magazine in May 2015.

It was this research that suggests that a document that mapped the main career opportunities for osteopaths might be welcomed by the profession (see Osteopathy Today). This also highlighted the additional non-osteopathic skill sets that might be seen as desirable when following such a path to allow osteopaths to plan and target their CPD accordingly.

As this project is dependent on the Advanced practice, Mentoring, Leadership and other projects, progress is expected to depend on the outcome of the initial phases of each of these projects.

Project team

The project team includes representatives from the Institute of Osteopathy (Matthew Rogers, Maurice Cheng, Ben Katz), the Osteopathic Alliance and the Council of Osteopathic Educational Institutions (Charles Hunt).


Matthew Rogers: matthew@iosteopathy.org