Rehabilitation Assistant Career Profile

How do I become a rehabilitation assistant?

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04 January 2024


What is an animal rehabilitation assistant?

Assists animal therapists with the wellbeing of animals that have to be rehabilitated after surgical procedures. Works under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, physical therapist assistant, or occupational therapist. 

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Alternative names

Some careers have more than one name. A Rehabilitation Assistant may also be called:

  • Rehab Aide
  • Canine Rehabilitation Assistant
  • Animal Physical Therapist Aide

Career Categories

The Rehabilitation Assistant career can be found within the following OZT career categories:​

  • Animal Care
  • Health
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Marine Conservation
  • Zoos, Aquariums and Theme Parks

What does a Rehabilitation Assistant do?

With which Groups of animals does a Rehabilitation Assistant work with?

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Farm Animals
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What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

With who does a Rehabilitation Assistant work?

An animal rehabilitation assistant typically works in collaboration with various professionals in the fields of veterinary medicine and animal care. Here are some of the key individuals and groups with whom an animal rehabilitation assistant may work:


Animal rehabilitation assistants often work closely with veterinarians who diagnose and treat medical conditions in animals. The assistant supports the veterinarian in implementing rehabilitation plans and carrying out prescribed treatments.

Licenced Veterinary Technicians (LVTs) or Veterinary Nurses:

Veterinary technicians, or nurses, play a crucial role in assisting with medical procedures, administering treatments, and supporting the overall care of animals. Animal rehabilitation assistants may collaborate with them to ensure comprehensive care.

Animal Rehabilitation Specialists or Physical Therapists:

Some facilities may have specialised professionals focusing specifically on animal rehabilitation or physical therapy. Animal rehabilitation assistants work alongside these specialists to implement rehabilitation plans and monitor progress.

Animal Caregivers and Handlers:

Those responsible for the day-to-day care of animals, including feeding, grooming, and maintaining a clean Environment, collaborate with Animal Rehabilitation Assistants to ensure the well-being of the animals undergoing rehabilitation.

Pet Owners:

Animal Rehabilitation Assistants often interact with pet owners, providing them with information about at-home care, exercises, and ongoing support for their animals’ recovery.

Administrative Staff:

Support staff in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, or rehabilitation centres assist with scheduling appointments, managing records, and handling administrative tasks. Animal rehabilitation assistants coordinate with them to ensure smooth operations.

Trainers and behaviourists:

In cases where behavioural issues impact rehabilitation, animal rehabilitation assistants may work with animal trainers or behaviourists to address and manage such issues.

Animal Shelter or Rescue Organisations:

Animal Rehabilitation Assistants may collaborate with organisations involved in animal rescue and shelter work. They contribute to the rehabilitation of animals with medical needs before they are adopted.

Physical Therapy Assistants (Human):

In certain settings, animal rehabilitation assistants may collaborate with human physical therapy assistants, especially in facilities that offer dual therapy for animals and their owners.

Researchers and educators:

Animal rehabilitation assistants may work with researchers conducting studies related to animal health and rehabilitation. They may also contribute to educational programmes by sharing practical experiences and insights.

Effective communication and collaboration among these professionals are essential to ensuring the holistic care and well-being of animals undergoing rehabilitation. Teamwork and a coordinated approach contribute to the success of the rehabilitation process.

What are the different specialisations or career directions that an animal rehabilitation assistant can venture into?

Animal rehabilitation assistants play a crucial role in helping animals recover from injuries, surgeries, or illnesses through therapeutic interventions and exercises. As they gain experience and expertise in animal rehabilitation, there are various specialisations and career directions they can explore within the field of veterinary rehabilitation. Here are different paths that an animal rehabilitation assistant can venture into:

Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT):

Obtain certification as a canine rehabilitation therapist to provide specialised rehabilitation services for dogs. CCRTs develop customised rehabilitation plans, perform therapeutic exercises, use modalities such as hydrotherapy, laser therapy, and therapeutic ultrasound, and collaborate with veterinarians to optimise the recovery and mobility of dogs with orthopaedic or neurological conditions.

Certified Equine Rehabilitation Therapist (CERT):

Gain certification as an equine rehabilitation therapist to focus on providing rehabilitation services for horses. CERTs work with equine athletes, injured horses, or horses recovering from surgeries to improve mobility, strength, and overall fitness through therapeutic exercises, modalities such as underwater treadmill therapy, laser therapy, and equine massage techniques.

Small Animal Rehabilitation Specialist:

Specialise in rehabilitation for small animals such as cats, rabbits, and exotic pets. Small animal rehabilitation specialists work with veterinarians to design and implement rehabilitation plans for pets recovering from surgeries, orthopaedic injuries, neurological conditions, or chronic pain. They use techniques like therapeutic exercises, manual therapies, and assistive devices to improve mobility and quality of life for small animals.

Aquatic Rehabilitation Specialist:

Focus on aquatic therapy for animals by becoming an aquatic rehabilitation specialist. Aquatic therapists use water-based exercises, underwater treadmills, and hydrotherapy techniques to help animals with orthopaedic conditions, arthritis, post-surgical recovery, weight management, and fitness improvement. They may work with dogs, horses, or exotic animals in aquatic rehabilitation programmes.

Certified Veterinary Rehabilitation Technician (CVRT):

Advance to become a certified veterinary rehabilitation technician, specialising in providing comprehensive rehabilitation care under the supervision of veterinarians. CVRTs assist in assessments, develop treatment plans, perform therapeutic exercises and modalities, monitor progress, educate pet owners, and ensure the well-being of animals undergoing rehabilitation.

Pain Management Specialist:

Focus on pain management strategies and techniques for animals in rehabilitation. Pain management specialists work with veterinary teams to assess pain levels, administer pain medications or supplements, implement pain relief modalities such as acupuncture, cold laser therapy, or electrotherapy, and monitor pain response during rehabilitation sessions.

Senior Pet Rehabilitation Specialist:

Specialise in rehabilitation for senior pets experiencing mobility issues, arthritis, or age-related conditions. Senior pet rehabilitation specialists design gentle and effective rehabilitation programmes tailored to the needs of senior pets, focusing on improving comfort, mobility, muscle strength, and joint flexibility through appropriate exercises and modalities.

Animal Wellness Coach:

Transition to a role focusing on overall wellness and fitness for animals. Animal wellness coaches work with pet owners to develop exercise plans, nutritional recommendations, weight management strategies, and lifestyle modifications to promote optimal health, mobility, and well-being for pets of all ages and conditions.

Rehabilitation Centre Manager/Director:

Advance to a leadership role overseeing the operations of an animal rehabilitation centre or clinic. Rehabilitation centre managers or directors manage staff, coordinate patient care, implement protocols and standards, ensure equipment maintenance and safety, handle client communications, and contribute to the growth and success of the rehabilitation facility.

Veterinary Education/Instruction:

Transition to roles in veterinary education, training, or instruction related to rehabilitation techniques and practices. Rehabilitation assistants can become educators, instructors, or workshop facilitators in veterinary schools, rehabilitation certification programmes, or continuing education courses for veterinary professionals interested in expanding their knowledge in animal rehabilitation.

These specialisations and career directions offer animal rehabilitation assistants opportunities to expand their skills, take on advanced roles, and contribute to improving the quality of life and recovery outcomes for animals undergoing rehabilitation therapy.

What does a Rehabilitation Assistant focus on?

The main focus of a Rehabilitation Assistant is to oversee the well-being of the animal patients, and to assist the physical therapist to prepare and perform the necessary procedures.

What are the daily tasks of a Rehabilitation Assistant?

The daily tasks of an animal rehabilitation assistant can vary depending on the specific setting, such as a veterinary clinic, animal hospital, rehabilitation centre, or research facility. However, common tasks typically include a combination of hands-on care, administrative responsibilities, and collaboration with other professionals. Here are some typical daily tasks for an animal rehabilitation assistant:

Animal Care:

Assist with feeding, grooming, and basic care routines for animals undergoing rehabilitation.
Monitor and record vital signs, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.

Implement rehabilitation Plans:

Follow the prescribed rehabilitation plans developed by veterinarians or rehabilitation specialists.
Carry out therapeutic exercises, massages, and other rehabilitation techniques as directed.

Administer Treatments:

Administer medications, therapeutic modalities (e.g., heat or cold therapy), and other prescribed treatments under the supervision of veterinarians or rehabilitation specialists.

Assist with Physical Therapy:

Support animals during physical therapy sessions, including activities like swimming, walking on treadmills, and other therapeutic exercises.

Monitor Progress:

Regularly observe and assess animals’ responses to rehabilitation interventions.
Document and report any changes in behaviour, movement, or overall condition.

Communicate with Veterinarians:

Provide updates to veterinarians regarding the progress and any observed changes in animals.
Collaborate on adjustments to rehabilitation plans as needed.

Interact with Pet Owners:

Educate and instruct pet owners on at-home care, exercises, and follow-up appointments.
Address any concerns or questions from pet owners regarding their animals’ rehabilitation.

Maintain Records:

Keep detailed and accurate records of each animal’s rehabilitation progress, treatments administered, and any notable observations.

Coordinate Appointments:

Schedule and coordinate rehabilitation appointments for animals.
Work with administrative staff to ensure a smooth flow of appointments.

Assist with rehabilitation equipment:

Set up and clean rehabilitation equipment before and after use.
Ensure that all equipment is in good working condition.

Collaborate with other Team Members:

Work collaboratively with veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other support staff to provide comprehensive care.
Attend team meetings to discuss cases and plan treatment strategies.

Participate in Training and Development:

Attend workshops, seminars, and training sessions to stay updated on new rehabilitation techniques and advancements in the field.

Contribute to Animal Welfare:

Advocate for the well-being of animals, including participating in discussions about best practices and ethical considerations in rehabilitation.

Maintain a Clean and Safe Environment:

Ensure that rehabilitation areas are clean, organised, and safe for both animals and staff.

The tasks may vary, but overall, Animal Rehabilitation Assistants play a vital role in supporting the recovery and well-being of animals under their care.

With what kind of tools and technology (if any) does an animal rehabilitation assistant work?

Animal Rehabilitation Assistants work with a variety of tools and technology to assist in the rehabilitation and care of animals. While the specific tools and equipment can vary depending on the type of rehabilitation being performed and the facility’s resources, here are some common examples:

Therapeutic Modalities:

Therapeutic Exercise Equipment:

Treadmills, balance balls, wobble boards, and obstacle courses may be used to improve strength, balance, and coordination in animals.

Hydrotherapy Equipment:

Underwater treadmills, swimming pools, or aquatic therapy tanks provide low-impact exercise and promote muscle strengthening and cardiovascular fitness.

Therapeutic Ultrasound:

Ultrasound machines may be used to provide deep tissue heating, promote tissue healing, and reduce inflammation in injured or sore muscles.

Electrical Stimulation Devices:

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) devices can help manage pain, improve muscle function, and facilitate muscle re-education.

Cold Laser Therapy Devices:

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) devices are used to promote tissue healing, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain.

Orthopedic and Assistive Devices:

Orthoses and Prostheses:

Custom orthotic or prosthetic devices may be used to support injured limbs, correct gait abnormalities, or improve mobility in animals with limb amputations.

Orthopedic Braces and Splints:

Custom-fitted braces or splints can provide support, stability, and protection for injured joints or limbs during rehabilitation.

Diagnostic Tools:


Goniometers are used to measure joint range of motion and assess progress during rehabilitation.

Force Plates:

Force plates can measure ground reaction forces and assess weight-bearing distribution during gait analysis.

Thermography Cameras:

Thermal imaging cameras may be used to detect areas of inflammation or altered blood flow in tissues.

Assistive Devices for Daily Living:

Harnesses and Slings:

Assistive harnesses or slings can help support animals during assisted walking exercises or when they are unable to bear weight on their own.

Ramps and Steps:

Ramps and steps provide safe access to elevated surfaces, such as therapy tables or rehabilitation equipment, for animals with mobility impairments.

Documentation and Communication Tools:

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Systems:

EMR systems allow for the electronic recording and tracking of patient information, treatment plans, and progress notes.

Video Recording Equipment:

Video recording devices may be used to document gait analysis, movement patterns, or therapeutic exercises for assessment and review.

Communication Aids:

Communication aids such as whiteboards, tablets, or apps may be used to facilitate communication between team members and educate pet owners about home exercise programs or treatment plans.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

Gloves, Gowns, and Masks:

PPE is used to protect Animal Rehabilitation Assistants from potential hazards, such as bodily fluids or Zoonotic diseases, during patient care and treatment.

Animal Rehabilitation Assistants should receive training on the proper use and maintenance of these tools and technology to ensure safe and effective rehabilitation practices. Additionally, staying informed about advancements in rehabilitation equipment and techniques is essential for providing high-quality care to animal patients.

The working environment of a Rehabilitation Assistant

Where does a Rehabilitation Assistant work?

The working environment for an animal rehabilitation assistant can vary based on the specific nature of the role and the organisation they work for. Here are descriptions of both indoor and outdoor working environments, as well as potential places of employment for an animal rehabilitation assistant:

1. Indoor Working Environments:

Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals:

Many animal rehabilitation assistants work in veterinary clinics or hospitals that offer rehabilitation services. Indoor settings include examination rooms, treatment areas, and rehabilitation facilities equipped with exercise equipment and therapeutic tools.

Animal Rehabilitation Centres:

Specialized animal rehabilitation centers provide a focused environment for rehabilitation services. These facilities often have dedicated spaces with equipment designed for physical therapy and hydrotherapy.

Research Facilities:

Animal rehabilitation assistants may be employed in research facilities where studies on animal health and rehabilitation are conducted. Indoor labs and research spaces are common in these settings.

Animal Shelters and Rescues:

Some animal shelters or rescue organizations have rehabilitation programs to address the needs of animals with medical conditions. Indoor spaces in these settings include designated rehabilitation areas within the shelter.

Educational Institutions:

Animal rehabilitation assistants might work in educational institutions that offer programs or research related to animal health and rehabilitation. Indoor environments include classrooms, labs, and research facilities.

Private Practices:

Private practices with a focus on animal rehabilitation may employ assistants. These environments include indoor spaces with treatment rooms and exercise areas.

2. Outdoor Working Environments:

Animal Exercise Areas:

In some cases, animal rehabilitation assistants may work with animals in outdoor exercise areas, especially when incorporating activities like walking, running, or other forms of outdoor therapy.

Farm or Ranch Settings:

In certain rehabilitation scenarios, particularly for larger animals, assistants might work in farm or ranch settings, providing care and rehabilitation outdoors.

3. Places of Employment:

Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals:

Animal rehabilitation assistants are commonly employed in veterinary clinics and hospitals that offer comprehensive veterinary services.

Specialized Rehabilitation Centers:

Dedicated animal rehabilitation centers hire assistants to focus specifically on providing rehabilitation services.

Animal Shelters and Rescues:

Some larger animal shelters or rescue organizations employ rehabilitation assistants to address the needs of animals with injuries or medical conditions.

Research Institutions:

Research facilities and universities with a focus on veterinary science or animal health may hire assistants for research and rehabilitation projects.

Private Practices:

Private practices specializing in animal rehabilitation may employ assistants to support their rehabilitation programs.

Educational Institutions:

Colleges or universities offering veterinary technology or animal science programs may have positions for assistants involved in research or teaching.

Government Agencies:

Certain government agencies, such as those focused on wildlife conservation, may employ animal rehabilitation assistants for rehabilitation efforts in outdoor settings.

The specific working environment and places of employment can vary, and animal rehabilitation assistants may find opportunities in a range of settings depending on their interests and career goals.

What is the average annual salary of a Rehabilitation Assistant?

Salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, qualifications, location within the country, and the specific employer. Additionally, economic conditions and salary structures can change over time.


The average annual salary for an animal rehabilitation assistant in the USA can range from $30,000 to $45,000 or more, depending on factors like experience and location.


In Canada, the average annual salary for an animal rehabilitation assistant is approximately CAD 35,000 to CAD 50,000 or more.


In the UK, salaries for animal rehabilitation assistants can vary. The average annual salary might be around £20,000 to £25,000 or more.


Salaries for Animal Rehabilitation Assistants in India can vary widely. On average, it might range from INR 2,00,000 to INR 5,00,000 or more per year.


In Australia, the average annual salary for an Animal Rehabilitation Assistant could be in the range of AUD 45,000 to AUD 60,000 or more.

New Zealand:

Salaries in New Zealand might range from NZD 40,000 to NZD 55,000 or more annually for Animal Rehabilitation Assistants.


In Nigeria, salaries can vary. On average, an Animal Rehabilitation Assistant might earn around NGN 600,000 to NGN 1,500,000 or more per year.


In Kenya, salaries for Animal Rehabilitation Assistants might be in the range of KES 300,000 to KES 700,000 or more annually.

South Africa:

In South Africa, salaries for Animal Rehabilitation Assistants can vary, with an average range of ZAR 100,000 to ZAR 250,000 or more per year.

Regional Averages:

South America:

Salaries can vary across South American countries. In general, the average might be in the range of $15,000 to $30,000 or more annually.


Average salaries for Animal Rehabilitation Assistants in Europe can vary by country. In general, it might be around €20,000 to €35,000 or more per year.

South East Asia:

Salaries can vary widely across South East Asian countries. On average, it might be in the range of $10,000 to $25,000 or more annually.

Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.

Can a Rehabilitation Assistant be promoted?

Promotion levels for an Animal Rehabilitation Assistant may not always follow a strict hierarchical structure like some corporate positions. However, career advancement can occur based on gaining more experience, acquiring additional education, and obtaining relevant certifications. Here are three prominent promotion levels for an Animal Rehabilitation Assistant:

Animal Rehabilitation Assistant


Minimum educational requirement, such as a high school diploma or equivalent.
Basic coursework or training in animal care, veterinary assistance, or a related field.


Assisting with animal care, rehabilitation exercises, and treatments.
Monitoring and recording vital signs.
Following prescribed rehabilitation plans under supervision.


Basic certifications in animal care or first aid may be beneficial.

Senior Animal Rehabilitation Assistant


Completion of a relevant post-secondary programme, such as an associate degree or diploma in veterinary technology or animal science. Additional coursework in animal rehabilitation.


Taking a more active role in planning and implementing rehabilitation programmes.
Supervising and training junior assistants.
Collaborating with veterinarians to adjust treatment plans.


Obtaining advanced certifications in animal rehabilitation or physical therapy.

Lead Animal Rehabilitation Specialist


Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology, animal science, or a related field.
Advanced coursework or specialised training in animal rehabilitation.


Leading and managing the animal rehabilitation department or team.
Conducting assessments and developing customised rehabilitation plans.
Engaging in research or educational initiatives.


Holding advanced certifications, possibly becoming a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) or an equivalent in other species.

Manager or Director of Animal Rehabilitation Services


Advanced degrees, such as a master’s or doctorate in veterinary rehabilitation or a related field,.
Continuous professional development in leadership and management.


Overseeing the entire animal rehabilitation programme within an organisation.
Managing budgets, resources, and staff.
Collaborating with other departments and executives.


Holding top-tier certifications and possibly becoming a member of relevant professional organizations.

What are the difficulties a Rehabilitation Assistant may face?

Animal Rehabilitation Assistants may encounter various challenges in their profession, and these challenges can arise from different aspects of their work environment and responsibilities. Here are some potential challenges faced by animal rehabilitation assistants:

Physical Demands:

Performing physical tasks, such as assisting with animal exercises, lifting animals, and maintaining a hands-on approach, can be physically demanding and may lead to fatigue or strain.

Safety Concerns (especially from the animals):

Working with animals, especially those in pain or distress, presents safety concerns. Animals may exhibit unpredictable behaviour, posing a risk of injury to the assistant.

Variability in Working Conditions:

Working in different settings, such as veterinary clinics, rehabilitation centers, or animal shelters, may expose assistants to varied working conditions, equipment, and team dynamics, requiring adaptability.

Emotional Challenges:

Dealing with animals facing health issues, injuries, or chronic conditions can be emotionally challenging. Witnessing animal suffering and making difficult decisions about their care may impact the mental well-being of assistants.

Business Management:

In settings where animal rehabilitation is part of a business, assistants may face challenges related to administrative tasks, client communication, and business management, which may not be part of their formal training.

Regulatory Compliance:

Adhering to regulations and standards related to animal care and rehabilitation is crucial. Keeping up with changing regulations and ensuring compliance may be a challenge.

Continuing Education:

Staying updated on the latest advancements in animal rehabilitation techniques and therapies requires ongoing education. Finding time and resources for continuous learning may be challenging.

Unpredictable Work Hours:

Animal care often involves unpredictable schedules, including evenings, weekends, and emergencies. This can affect work-life balance and personal commitments.

Client/Pet Owner Communication:

Effectively communicating with pet owners, especially in emotionally charged situations, requires empathy, clarity, and sometimes managing unrealistic expectations.

Team Collaboration:

Collaborating with veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other professionals demands effective communication and teamwork, and differences in approaches or opinions may arise.

Physical and Emotional Attachment to Animals:

Developing strong bonds with animals under care can lead to emotional attachment, making it challenging to cope with difficult cases, end-of-life decisions, or the potential for unsuccessful rehabilitation.

Financial Constraints:

In some cases, financial constraints of pet owners or organizations may limit the extent of rehabilitation services that can be provided, impacting the overall effectiveness of treatment.

Ethical Dilemmas:

Faced with ethical decisions, such as balancing the best interest of the animal with the financial or emotional constraints of the pet owner, assistants may encounter dilemmas that require careful consideration.

Animal rehabilitation assistants need to be resilient, adaptable, and committed to ongoing learning to navigate these challenges effectively. Seeking support from colleagues, supervisors, or mental health professionals can also be beneficial in managing the emotional aspects of the job.

Future Growth and Career Outlook

With the ever-increasing population of pets, the career outlook for people working in the pet care industry is good.

General trends and factors that may influence the future of the animal rehabilitation industry:

Increasing Awareness and Demand:

There is a growing awareness of the benefits of rehabilitation for animals, both in terms of recovery from injuries and improving the quality of life for those with chronic conditions. This heightened awareness is likely to contribute to an increased demand for animal rehabilitation services.

Advancements in Veterinary Medicine:

Ongoing advancements in veterinary medicine, including surgical techniques, diagnostics, and treatments, may enhance the scope of rehabilitation services. This could lead to more specialised roles and opportunities for animal rehabilitation assistants.

Human-Animal Bond Emphasis:

The emphasis on the human-animal bond and the recognition of pets as integral family members contribute to an increased willingness among pet owners to invest in comprehensive healthcare, including rehabilitation, for their animals.

Incorporation of Technology:

The incorporation of technology in veterinary care, such as telemedicine, wearable devices, and digital health records, may influence how rehabilitation services are delivered and monitored. Animal rehabilitation assistants may need to adapt to these technological advancements.

Expansion of Services in Veterinary Practices:

Veterinary practices are increasingly recognizing the value of offering comprehensive services, including rehabilitation, as part of their practice. This expansion may lead to increased employment opportunities for animal rehabilitation assistants within veterinary clinics.

Specialisation and Certification:

The trend towards specialisation in veterinary care may lead to increased demand for certified animal rehabilitation professionals. Specialised certifications may become more prevalent, offering career advancement opportunities for those with specific expertise.

Research and Evidence-Based Practices:

Continued research in the field of animal rehabilitation is likely to contribute to the development of evidence-based practices. This could lead to more standardised approaches to rehabilitation, further professionalising the role of animal rehabilitation assistants.

Collaboration with Other Professions:

Collaborations between animal rehabilitation professionals, veterinarians, and other healthcare providers may become more common. This interdisciplinary approach could enhance the overall quality of care and lead to new career pathways.

Globalisation and Standardisation:

As the field of animal rehabilitation continues to develop, there may be efforts towards global standardisation of education, certifications, and practices. This could enhance the mobility and recognition of professionals in the field.

Legislation and Regulation:

The development of clearer legislation and regulations around the practice of animal rehabilitation may impact the industry. This could involve licensure requirements, standards of care, and ethical guidelines.

It’s important to note that the above trends are general observations and that the future of the animal rehabilitation industry will depend on a combination of factors, including societal attitudes towards pet care, advancements in veterinary science, and the evolving needs of the animal healthcare landscape. Professionals in the field should stay informed about these trends and adapt their skills and knowledge accordingly. For the most current and specific information, individuals may refer to industry reports, veterinary associations, and relevant publications.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills are required for a Rehabilitation Assistant?

The skills required for a career as a rehabilitation assistant can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills

  • ​Basic animal handling and care techniques
  • Customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Career Skills

Which subjects must I have at school to prepare for this career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Rehabilitation Assistant?

Minimum educational requirements

Most Animal Rehabilitation Assistants start their careers with a high school diploma or equivalent qualification.

Study Focus

Subjects for Further Study (Recommended):

Associate Degree or Diploma in Veterinary Technology:

Pursuing an associate degree or diploma in veterinary technology is often beneficial. Programmes accredited by relevant authorities enhance credibility.

Key Subjects in Veterinary Technology:

Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Nursing, Pharmacology, Radiography, Clinical Procedures, and Animal Management.

Courses in Animal Rehabilitation:

If available, consider courses specifically focused on animal rehabilitation or physical therapy within veterinary technology programmes.

Advanced Studies (If Necessary):

Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science or Related Field:

While not always mandatory, some positions or employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in animal science, biology, or a related field.

Key Subjects in Animal Science:

Advanced Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Behaviour, Nutrition, Genetics, and Exercise Physiology.

Optional Short Courses (Continuing Education):

Certification in Animal Rehabilitation:

Pursuing a certification in animal rehabilitation can enhance your skills and credibility. Examples include a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant (CCRA) or Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT).

Pet First Aid and CPR Courses:

Short courses in pet first aid and CPR can be valuable for handling emergencies and ensuring the safety of animals.

Workshops on Therapeutic Techniques:

Attend workshops or short courses focused on specific therapeutic techniques used in animal rehabilitation, such as hydrotherapy or therapeutic exercises.

Continuing Education Programmes:

Stay updated on the latest advancements in animal rehabilitation by participating in continuing education programmes offered by professional associations or educational institutions.

Professional Development Courses:

Courses in communication skills, client education, and teamwork can be beneficial for enhancing the non-technical aspects of the role.

Study Duration

The duration of short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few weeks.

FREE Career Path Plan

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A preparation path is like a road map to where you want to go.

Possible Path(s):

Here’s a possible career preparation path for a high school student interested in becoming an animal rehabilitation assistant:

Attend Career Guidance Sessions:

Attend career guidance sessions, workshops, and seminars to gain insights into various careers, including animal rehabilitation.

2.  Research Possible Careers:

Conduct thorough research on careers related to animal rehabilitation, understanding the roles, responsibilities, and educational requirements.

3.  Explore Educational Paths:

Identify educational paths such as veterinary technology programmes, animal science degrees, or specific courses in animal rehabilitation.

4.  Align High School Subjects:

Choose high school subjects that align with the chosen educational path, focusing on biology, chemistry, and other science-related courses.

5.  Obtain High School Diploma or Equivalent:

Successfully complete high school or obtain an equivalent qualification.

6.  Learn About Animals:

Gain knowledge about various animal species, their anatomy, behaviour, and common health issues.

7.  Align Post-School Path:

Decide whether to enter the workforce directly after high school, pursue further education in animal rehabilitation, or consider starting a business in the field.

8.  Gain Experience:

Volunteer at local animal shelters, veterinary clinics, or rehabilitation centres to gain hands-on experience. Seek internships or mentorship opportunities.

9.  Pursue Extracurricular Activities:

Participate in extracurricular activities related to animals, such as joining animal clubs, participating in science fairs, or engaging in community service projects.

10. Join Professional Associations:

Join relevant professional associations related to veterinary care or animal rehabilitation to stay connected with industry trends and professionals.

11. Gain Specialized Skills:

Enrol in workshops or courses to acquire specialised skills in animal rehabilitation techniques and therapies.

12. Network with Professionals:

Attend industry events, conferences, and networking sessions to connect with professionals in the field.

13. Enter the Job Market or Further Studies:

Decide whether to enter the job market with a diploma or degree or pursue further studies in animal rehabilitation or a related field.

14. Stay Updated and Pursue Continuing Education:

Stay informed about advancements in animal rehabilitation by attending workshops, webinars, and continuing education programmes throughout your career.

By following this comprehensive path, the high school student can develop a strong foundation, practical skills, and a network of professionals to support their journey towards becoming a successful animal rehabilitation assistant.

Possible Combined Career Paths

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternative(s):

Stepping Stone Career

A stepping-stone career refers to a job or position that serves as a transitional or intermediate step towards a long-term career goal. Individuals may take on a stepping-stone job as it requires minimum education or finances to enter, or to gain relevant experience and develop skills, or to make professional connections that will ultimately help them progress towards their desired career path.

These interim positions may not be the ultimate or dream job, but they provide valuable learning opportunities and contribute to the individual’s overall career development. Stepping-stone careers are often seen as a strategic approach to building a successful and fulfilling professional trajectory, allowing individuals to gradually move closer to their desired roles or industries.

A career as an Animal Rehabilitation Assistant can provide valuable skills and experiences that may serve as a stepping stone to various related or complementary careers within the broader field of animal care, veterinary medicine, or even broader healthcare professions.

Here are some potential career paths that individuals with a background in animal rehabilitation might consider:

Training and apprenticeship

On-the-job training and apprenticeships can be crucial for individuals entering a career as an animal rehabilitation assistant. While the specific requirements may vary among employers and regions, here are some common aspects to consider:

Educational Background:

Many animal rehabilitation assistants start their careers with a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may prefer candidates with additional education, such as an associate degree or diploma in veterinary technology or a related field.

On-the-Job Training:

Orientation and Introduction:

New hires typically undergo an orientation process to familiarise themselves with the organisation, its policies, and the specific responsibilities of an animal rehabilitation assistant.

Shadowing and observation:

Trainees often spend time shadowing experienced professionals, observing rehabilitation sessions, and learning about the daily routines and procedures.

Hands-on Practice:

As part of the training, individuals are gradually introduced to hands-on tasks, such as assisting with animal care, administering treatments, and performing basic rehabilitation exercises.

Supervised Rehabilitation Sessions:

Trainees work under close supervision during rehabilitation sessions, implementing techniques and interventions as directed by experienced professionals.


Some individuals may have the opportunity to participate in formal apprenticeship programmes, especially in settings where animal rehabilitation is a specialised field.

Structured Learning Programmes:

Apprenticeships often include structured learning programmes that combine hands-on training with theoretical knowledge. This may involve coursework, workshops, and mentorship.

Progressive Responsibility:

Throughout the apprenticeship, individuals gradually assume more responsibilities as they gain proficiency in animal rehabilitation techniques and demonstrate competence.

Certifications and Specialized Training:

Encouragement to Obtain Certifications:

Employers may encourage or require trainees to pursue certifications relevant to animal rehabilitation, such as Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant (CCRA) or similar credentials.

Attendance at Workshops and Seminars:

Trainees may be given opportunities to attend workshops, seminars, or conferences to further their knowledge and skills in animal rehabilitation.


Assigned Mentor:

Trainees often work closely with a mentor, an experienced animal rehabilitation assistant, or a rehabilitation specialist who provides guidance, support, and feedback.

Regular Check-ins and Feedback:

Regular check-ins with mentors allow trainees to discuss their progress, ask questions, and receive constructive feedback on their performance.

Practical Experience in Different Settings:

Rotation in Various Areas:

Depending on the organisation, trainees may have the opportunity to rotate through different areas, such as veterinary clinics, rehabilitation centres, or animal shelters, to gain diverse experience.

Evaluation and Certification:

Assessment of Competence:

Trainees are typically evaluated on their competence in various aspects of the role, including animal handling, rehabilitation techniques, and communication skills.

Certification or Endorsement:

Successful completion of on-the-job training and apprenticeship may lead to certification or an endorsement, indicating that the individual has met the required standards for an animal rehabilitation assistant.

It’s important for individuals entering this career to actively seek opportunities for practical experience, engage with experienced professionals, and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning. The duration and structure of on-the-job training and apprenticeships can vary, so individuals should inquire about specific requirements with prospective employers or educational institutions offering relevant programs.

Average level of education of those entering this career

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Organizations

The specific requirements for licences, certificates, and registration to become an animal rehabilitation assistant can vary by country, state, or region. It’s essential to research the regulations in the specific area where you intend to work. However, here are some general considerations:

Certification in Animal Rehabilitation:

While not always mandatory, obtaining certification in animal rehabilitation can enhance your skills and credibility. Organisations such as the Canine Rehabilitation Institute offer programmes leading to certifications like Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant (CCRA) or Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT).

State or Regional Licencing:

In some jurisdictions, animal rehabilitation assistants may be required to obtain a state or regional licence. Check with the local veterinary board or relevant regulatory authorities to determine if licencing is required in your area.

Veterinary Technician or Nursing Licence:

Depending on the jurisdiction, animal rehabilitation assistants may need to be licenced as veterinary technicians or nurses. This typically involves completing an accredited veterinary technology programme and passing a licencing examination.

Continuing Education Requirements:

Some certifications and licences may have continuing education requirements to ensure that professionals stay updated on the latest advancements in the field.

Membership in Professional Associations:

Joining professional associations related to animal rehabilitation may not be a legal requirement but can offer networking opportunities, access to resources, and recognition within the industry.

Compliance with Local Regulations:

Be aware of any local regulations and guidelines related to the practice of animal rehabilitation. Compliance with these regulations is essential for ethical and legal practice.

Insurance and Liability Coverage:

Some jurisdictions or employers may require animal rehabilitation assistants to have liability insurance. This coverage helps protect professionals in the event of unforeseen incidents or accidents during the course of their work.

First Aid and CPR Certification:

While not always a legal requirement, obtaining certification in pet first aid and CPR can be valuable for handling emergencies and ensuring the safety of animals under your care.

Documentation of Training and Experience:

Maintain thorough documentation of your training, education, and practical experience. This documentation may be required when applying for certifications, licences, or employment.

Adherence to Ethical Standards:

Abide by ethical standards and guidelines set by professional organisations and regulatory bodies. Upholding ethical standards is crucial for maintaining trust and ensuring the well-being of animals.

Professional Organizations

There are several professional associations and societies related to animal rehabilitation and veterinary physical therapy. Please note that the availability and status of these associations may change over time. Here are some regional and international organisations:

International Association of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy (IAVRPT):

Website: IAVRPT

American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians (AARV):

Website: AARV

Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT) – United Kingdom:

Website: ACPAT

International Association for Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy – Europe (IAVRPT-Europe):

Website: IAVRPT-Europe

Australian Canine Rehabilitation Association (ACRA):

Website: ACRA

Canadian Animal Rehabiliation Organisation (Canine Osteopathy and Rehabilitation Education) – Canada:

Website: Canine Osteopathy and Rehabilitation Education

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards animal care.

How do I start to prepare for this Career?

If you do decide on following this career, then OZT can assist you in figuring out a path to prepare, as well as help you to gain further knowledge about the career and the animals you will be working with. We do this by offering you FREE career development tools. There are almost a dozen free tools, but these are the three primary ones:


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But, if you are still uncertain about choosing this specific career, and even where to start, then have a look at our special series of WHAT NEXT courses (link below). They take you through all of the questions you might have on how to choose the right career, what to do while at and after school, and even how to start your own business.


Join the OZT online community for special access to more tools!

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Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
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Some of the best websites to help you decide on a career are:

Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI):

    • Website: Canine Rehabilitation Institute
    • Description: CRI offers courses and certifications in canine rehabilitation. Their website provides information on various programmes, workshops, and resources for individuals interested in pursuing a career in canine rehabilitation.

International Association of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy (IAVRPT):

      • Website: IAVRPT
      • Description: IAVRPT is an international association that promotes and advances the field of veterinary rehabilitation and physical therapy. The website includes information on conferences, educational opportunities, and resources for professionals in the field.

American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians (AARV):

    • Website: AARV
    • Description: AARV is an association dedicated to advancing the field of veterinary rehabilitation. The website provides information on membership, events, and resources for veterinary professionals interested in rehabilitation

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