Horse Rehabilitation Careers: Job Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a horse rehabilitation specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, certification, license and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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Whether you're a veterinarian who works in several different fields or a specialist who works with the horse racing circuit, there are a variety of employment opportunities for those in horse rehabilitation. While a formal education for a horse rehabilitation specialist is not available, college courses specializing in equine therapy and rehabilitation are offered through veterinary degrees. State certification and licensing is required.

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Essential Information

Horse rehabilitation specialists, sometimes known as equine therapists, utilize medical procedures to help injured horses regain mobility and lead healthy lives. Ranging from simple physical therapy techniques, such as exercises and heat treatments, to more technologically advanced methods, such as electro-muscle stimulation and ultrasound, horse rehabilitation requires significant medical knowledge and a good temperament to work with large, injured animals. Horse rehabilitation specialists are employed by wildlife facilities, nonprofits, government institutions (such as the Department of Agriculture) and private practices.

Required Education No formal education required to be a horse rehabilitation specialist, though some college coursework in equine therapy is recommended. To be a veterinarian, however, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree is required.
Required Certification State certification for veterinarians is required by most states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (for all veterinarians)
Median Salary (2015)* $88,490 (for all veterinarians)

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options for Horse Rehabilitation Specialists

Horses are used in multiple job settings, such as police units, gaming, recreation centers and film. Specializing in horse rehabilitation allows individuals to cater to a specific field, such as horse racing. However, working as a veterinarian that specializes in large animal care provides the opportunity to rehabilitate horses that work in almost any job field.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2014 that only six percent of veterinarians focused their work exclusively on horses. Many horse rehabilitation specialists work as independent contractors or as part of a veterinary clinic. Larger industries, like film companies or racing organizations, tend to hire private horse rehabilitation specialists to work with the animals on-site.

Besides private practice, government agencies offer contract opportunities for horse rehabilitation specialists. In 2015, the BLS reported that 2,520 veterinarians, some of who specialized in horses, were employed by different branches of the government, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several nonprofit equine organizations employ specialists to help rehabilitate neglected and abused horses. Wildlife facilities, such as zoos, also require the assistance of rehabilitation experts.

Requirements for Horse Rehabilitation Specialists

Education Requirements

Within the United States, there is no academic or training standard to become a horse rehabilitation specialist. However, schools that offer specific programs in equine therapy and rehabilitation typically require applicants to at least have some college education and licensure as a veterinary technician.

Those who wish to offer horse rehabilitation specialists as a veterinarian need to earn both bachelor's and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degrees. Veterinary schooling usually takes four years to complete, and many schools include large animal clinics and affiliations with teaching veterinary hospitals. Not all programs include coursework in rehabilitation, though the additional training could be completed through internships, volunteer work or graduate certificate programs.

Licensure Requirements

Once a degree is earned, veterinary technicians and veterinarians must earn a state-issued license by passing a state or national exam. Other licensing requirements for horse rehabilitation specialists differ by state. Some states require a physical therapy license with a specialty geared toward animal sciences in addition to a veterinarian license. To deal with legal issues concerning property law and animal neglect, some states require veterinarians and animal rehabilitation specialists to take a state jurisprudence examination.

Salary and Job Outlook

While there are no specific employment statistics for horse rehabilitation specialists, the BLS projects that employment of veterinarians will increase 9% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than average compared to other job sectors. In May 2015, the BLS reported that veterinarians earned an average annual salary of $88,490.

Even though there is no designated degree for horse rehabilitation specialists, there are opportunities for veterinarians to focus on coursework that's designed for this field of work. Job growth for all veterinarians is at a faster than average rate as opposed to other occupations and those seeking employment should expect to earn about $88,490 each year.

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