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Animal Massage Therapist: Salary, Duties and Outlook

Though massage therapy is usually targeted to human clients, it also can be applied to our four-legged friends. Animal massage therapists might work with domesticated pets, show horses, therapy dogs, or any other animals that could benefit from muscle massage.

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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 yearly average salary of $22,370 as of 2012 (www.bls.gov). The middle half of employees in this group earned between $17,790 and $24,590, or $8.55 and $11.82 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 professionals were expected to grow 23% from 2010-2020. This was much faster than the average for all professions, partially due to the fact that both pet ownership and pet owners' disposable incomes were 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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