How to work as an osteopath in Germany

  • Job Seekers
  • Published on January 15

Most osteopathy patients in Germany obtain partial reimbursements for osteopathic treatments from their health insurance provider. For them to be able to claim, the treating osteopath must be a Heilpraktiker (HP) and registered with a recognised Osteopathy organisation. Hence, the priority for osteopaths wanting to work in Germany is to get a place on the HP examination roster (there is a waiting list depending on the federal state you register in), and then pass that exam.

The HP exams are centralised in the Länder (states) and usually consist of a written multiple choice and an oral exam. These exams have become very specialised and are at the same level as the first state exams at university.

The material covered in the exam goes way beyond and deeper than a UK osteopathy degree, so you need to factor in prep time. (One UK Osteopath says, “If my German was perfect, and I had just finished my degree, I'd say it would still take 6 months of 3 hours a day of studying to pass. Not so easy to be honest.”)

Therefore, you will need good (minimum B2) German skills, and to pass the HP exam, the time to study a lot of information that won't have been covered in a UK osteopathy degree. You will have to learn a lot of very superficial knowledge about a broad range of conditions, as well as German law.

It is possible to work as a massage therapist in Germany without the exam but you must be very careful not to mention that you treat any conditions or have any health benefits. Some people do work in a legal grey zone until they pass the exam. To clarify the Heilpraktiker is not just to help patients get reimbursed. If you practice osteopathy without it, it is illegal. Officially, this can result in a hefty fine or prison.

There is of course then the administration burden of running your own osteopathy business in Germany to consider if you are planning on setting up on your own.