Overview of Online Canine Massage Therapy Certification Programs
Students interested in providing dogs with supportive health care through massage therapy may consider earning canine massage therapy certification. Certification is intended to train massage practitioners in safe, effective techniques used in the field. Online or hybrid certification is available through organizations like Holistic Animal Studies, the Northwest School of Animal Massage, and E-Training for Dogs.com. Students may also choose to pursue board certification in canine acupressure and massage from the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM).
Online canine massage therapy certification programs may suggest that students hold a high school diploma or GED. It is also typically a requirement that students have access to one or more dogs to practice on and prior experience working with dogs may be beneficial. Board certification from the NBCAAM requires students to meet specific amounts of coursework in various subjects (online or in-person) and in-person, supervised training. However, the certification exam can be completed online.
Requirements for Online Canine Massage Therapy Certification
Online certification in canine massage therapy is an indicator that the professional is competent in understanding the benefits of canine massage and applying the proper techniques and methods for canine massages. Although all coursework for these certifications may be completed online, students are typically required to complete hands-on experiences working with real animals and practicing their massage skills.
General online canine massage therapy certification programs may be completed in a self-paced format and give students up to 2 years to complete the material. Some programs may offer varying levels of certification, such as a foundation level or an advanced rehabilitation massage level. Students in the program may learn from demonstrative videos and PowerPoints, as well as homework assignments, quizzes, and/or hands-on case studies that require working multiple times with several different dogs. These certification programs may cover topics in anatomy and physiology, the history and purpose of massage, patient assessment, and massage techniques.
In order to become board certified in the field from the NBCAAM, students must meet all eligibility requirements and pass an online exam. Qualifying students have completed at least 200 hours of education in the field. This education may be broken up into areas like anatomy and physiology, massage, and business/ethics. Some of these education hours, such as in anatomy and physiology or ethics are allowed to be completed in online formats, while the NBCAAM requires students to have a minimum of 50 hours of supervised, hands-on courses in areas like assessment and massage techniques. Students who meet requirements must apply to take the exam and sign off on the organization's code of ethics, and then can complete the exam online, at a veterinarian's office, or at another approved testing location. Reviews for the exam are also available in an online format.
Career Outcomes with Certification in Canine Massage Therapy
Students with certification in canine massage therapy may work as a canine massage therapist at an existing office, open their own business or work at veterinarians' offices, animal shelters, and animal rehabilitation facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would group canine massage therapists under the larger umbrella of animal care and service workers, which also includes positions such as groomers, animal trainers, kennel attendants, and pet sitters. Both animal care and service workers and veterinary assistants typically need at least a high school diploma, per the BLS.
The BLS reported that as of 2019, animal care and service workers made a median annual salary of $24,990 and had a job outlook of 16% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the national average. This faster than average job outlook may be due in part to the growing number of households that have pets and families' willingness to pay for animal care and services. The BLS stated that the median annual salary for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers as of 2019 was $28,590. These professionals had a job outlook of 19% from 2018 to 2028, which is also much faster than average. According to the website Comparably, which gathers self-reported income information, animal massage therapists make an average annual salary of $60,410.
Students can earn canine massage therapy certification online or in hybrid formats, as well as board certification in the field. Students in these programs still participate in hands-on training and may go on to work in a variety of settings to help care for dogs.