How do I become a rehabilitation assistant?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for the career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools, while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!

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UPDATED: 6 October 2020

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1. 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. 

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

2. What does a Rehabilitation Assistant do?

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 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?

  • Transport animal patients to and from the rehab section
  • Prepare food and feeding the various animals
  • Making sure the animals have enough water
  • Set up necessary equipment and prepares treatment environment for the therapist
  • Assist the physical therapist, physical therapist assistant and occupational therapist in administering selected treatments as directed and according to established procedure
  • Assist Rescue Centre Manager or Owners and resident veterinarians when animals become ill
  • In some cases also bathing, nail trimming and grooming of animals

3. The working environment of a Rehabilitation Assistant

Where does a Rehabilitation Assistant work?

Environment –

Mostly indoors within the rehab facility

Places of Employment –

In most cases the Rehab Assistant will be employed by animal hospitals or animal rehabilitation centers.

What is the average annual salary of a Rehabilitation Assistant?

The average salary of a permanent Rehabilitation Assistant is around US$25,000 per year. Part time workers earn around US$13 per hour. 

Can a Rehabilitation Assistant be promoted?

Rehabilitation Assistants may be promoted to Managers, or move to similar careers in the animal care industry. 

What are the difficulties a Rehabilitation Assistant may face?

The most difficult part of this career is being able to work with stressed animals. Animals can get difficult and temperamental when they sense a new person in their space, especially when they are still hurting from a recent operation. Learning to deal with such animals is important to make Rehabilitation Assistant your ideal career. Caregivers may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

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.

4. 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

Career Skills:

  • ​Basic animal handling and care techniques
  • Customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Life Skills
40%
Career Skills
60%

5. 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!

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

Minimum educational requirements

Generally, Rehab Assistants must have at least a minimum of a high school diploma (certificate), when working for an established organization.

The best caregivers learn additional skills on the job, or acquire skills through completing short courses.

Study Focus

When you do decide to further your skills, you might want to focus on short courses that specializes in caring for domesticated animals, as well as dealing with behavioral issues.

Study Duration

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

Possible Career Preparation Paths

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 your road map to where you want to go.

Possible Path(s):

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

Being a rehabilitation assistant can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc).

You can begin as an intern after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.

Some of the possible paths:

Training and apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal caregiver careers, most of the skills you will need will be acquired through on-the-job training. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior positions) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert. The more hands on careers, such as animal trainers might require apprenticeship.

Join the Rehabilitation Assistants Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering this career

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

7. Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Organizations

Certain animal care careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

In certain countries, Rehabilitation Assistants need to complete a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam.

Learn more about requirements by joining the Community.

Professional Organizations

8. 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.

Do you want to contribute to the Career information? Please click on the red beetle to learn about being an OZT mentor or contributor.

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Join our OZT Community and the Rehabilitation Assistant Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a rehabilitation assistant.

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
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge 
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Rehabilitation Assistant, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, and non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu to start a new search and learn about a different career.

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