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Animal Massage Therapist: Salary, Duties and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an animal massage therapist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and state regulations to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Animal massage therapists work with domesticated pets, show horses, therapy dogs and other animals that could benefit from muscle massage. Many therapists specialize in a particular type of animal. Animal massage is often taught through certificate programs that focus on animal physiology, kinesiology and safe handling of the animal as well as massage techniques. Regulations for animal massage therapy vary by state; individuals interested in this field should check with their state's veterinary board for licensure requirements.

Required Education Certificate or training program in animal massage therapy
Other Requirements Endorsement or licensing requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth15% for all animal care and service workers from 2012-2022*
Median Salary $19,910 for all nonfarm animal caretakers (2013)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary for Animal Massage Therapists

Salary information specific to animal massage therapists is not currently available. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal service providers in a non-farm environment earned a median annual salary of $19,910 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). The middle half of employees in this group earned between $17,880 and $24,650, or $8.59 and $11.85 hourly.

Animal Massage Therapist Job Duties

Animal massage therapists apply massage techniques to animals to improve circulation, reduce inflammation or swelling, and improve the animal's overall health. An animal massage therapist should have love and empathy for animals and a desire to alleviate their physical pain. It's possible for an animal massage therapist to specialize in one particular animal; two common options are dogs and horses. A massage therapist must be knowledgeable in the anatomy of a particular animal before providing massage therapy to that animal.

Licensing requirements for animal massage therapists vary by state, with qualifying practice hours ranging from 100-500. Animal massage therapy might be part of regular veterinary medicine licensure in some states, while others have no explicit requirements. Regulations might be dictated by the same state organization that oversees massage therapy for humans. Training and certificate programs are available and might be required for animal massage practitioners. These include a combination of coursework and contact hours.

Career Outlook for Animal Massage Therapists

According to the BLS, job opportunities for animal care and service workers were expected to grow 15% from 2012-2022. This is slightly faster than the average for all professions, partially due to the fact that both pet ownership and pet owners' disposable incomes are expected to increase.

Animal massage specialists might be able to find work with police and military dogs, race horses, work horses, or other animals that are physically active. Other clients might include personal pets, especially those that are aging.

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