Chiropractors

Unit Group 3122

Skill Type: Health Occupations

Type of work

Chiropractors diagnose and treat patients' neuromuscular-skeletal disorders of the spine and other body joints by adjusting the spinal column or through other corrective manipulation.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • chiropractic doctor
  • chiropractor
  • doctor of chiropractic

Outlook

Job prospects in this occupation are good.

(Update: May 2014)

Over the last few years, the number of chiropractors has grown sharply. This increase can be explained by the rise in demand for chiropractic services and the high number of newcomers to the occupation. Considering that demand for chiropractic care is on the rise and the number of graduates from the doctoral program in chiropractic clearly exceeds the number of retirements and deaths, the number of chiropractors should increase sharply over the coming years.

Sources of employment

Job opportunities will become available primarily through employment increase, but also from chiropractors who retire. There is little turnover in this occupation. In general, university graduates usually find work soon after completing their studies and remain employed throughout their career.

Labour pool

As there is practically no unemployment in this occupation, graduates who have a doctor of chiropractic will fill almost all vacant positions. Some positions are expected to be filled by immigrants who meet the entrance requirements for the occupation. Although the percentage of immigrants in this occupation in 2006 was lower than in all occupations (7% compared with 12%, according to census data), positions are accessible to newcomers.

Historically, the majority of new graduates have been Quebeckers who went to study in Toronto or the United States. Since 1993, the doctoral program is offered at the University of Quebec at Trois Rivières (UQTR). This profession attracts many candidates, but only a small minority can enter the occupation because of the quotas set for this program at UQTR (about 45 spots per year). In this context, the placement rate for those graduates is excellent and their unemployment rate is very low, according to the Quebec Department of Education, Recreation and Sport's Relance survey data. However, the part-time employment rate is the highest of all university programs in health, with midwifery. This rate has exceeded 50% in 2011.

Some candidates seek training in institutions outside Quebec, but the admission criteria, distance and high cost of this education are obstacles for many of them. In addition, people who study outside Quebec are no longer eligible for a bursary from the Quebec Department of Education, Recreation and Sport's (MELS).

Industries

According to census data, in 2006 approximalely 94% of chiropractors worked in chiropractic clinics.

Trends

Employment growth in this occupation depends on the demand for chiropractic services and on the rate that newcomers join the profession.

Demand for chiropractic services

The ageing population and increased public awareness of health issues favours employment growth in all health-related professions. The demand for chiropractic care is also benefiting from the trend to seek solutions to replace traditional medical approaches, although chiropractic services must compete with other alternative therapies.

The fact that chiropractic care is covered by many private insurance plans promotes employment in this occupation. In addition, doctors at the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CSST) and theSociété de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) send their patients to chiropractors as needed.

In 2002, the government passed legislation that changed slightly the fields of practice of the main health occupations. Under the legislation, the right of physiotherapists to perform spine and joint manipulations is now clearly stated. The loss of that exclusive right by chiropractors had certainly a downward impact on the demand for chiropractic services. However, the magnitude of the decline is impossible to quantify.

Along the same lines, in 2005, the Quebec Court of Appeal recognized the right of chiropractors to diagnose health problems which they are authorized to treat. That decision generated little growth in the demand for chiropractic care.

Rate that newcomers join the profession

The rate at which newcomers join the profession will have a large impact on employment growth in this occupation. Because this profession consists mostly of self-employed workers (about 90% according to 2006 census data, ranking this occupation second in this respect among the 520 occupations inventoried in Job Futures Quebec), employment growth among chiropractors depends primarily on the difference between the number of newcomers to the job market and the number of people retiring or passing away. In fact, nothing prevents people in this occupation from setting up their own business even in a market that is already well served. Thus, the demand for chiropractic services has a greater impact on the income earned by chiropractors than employment growth does.

Over the past few years, the demand for chiropractic services does not seem to have kept up with the increase in the number of chiropractors. In fact, according to census and National Household Survey data, the average annual income of full-time and full-year chiropractors decreased close to 10% between 1990 and 2010, while it rose by almost 640% in all occupations as a whole. With about 40 new labour market entrants graduating every year from UQTR's doctoral program in chiropractics, the rate of integrating new entrants is expected to continue to exceed the growth in demand for chiropractic services. Therefore, in the next few years, the average employment income of chiropractors is expected to continue to increase at a slower rate than the average.

Considering that demand for chiropractic care is on the rise and the number of graduates from the doctoral program in chiropractic clearly exceeds the number of retirements and deaths, the number of chiropractors should increase sharply over the coming years.

Employment characteristics

According to census data, women held about 39% of the jobs in this occupation in 2006, a percentage that has been rising slightly since 1991 (23%). This percentage should increase over the next few years, because between 60% and 80% of the new graduates in doctor of chiropractic are women. This phenomenon can also be seen in data from theOrdre des chiropraticiens du Québec. In March 2013, women comprised about 43% of members, while they represented only 13% in 1989. Since women who work as professionals in the health sector usually work fewer hours than men, the increase in the proportion of women in this occupation could significantly offset the overly-rapid growth in the number of chiropractors.

The annual employment income for people in this occupation who did not work full-time and full-year in 2005 was almost the same as those who worked full-time and full-year (just over $58,000 in both cases). They often start their career with a limited clientele and income. It generally takes a few years to build up an adequate client base, often by word of mouth, either alone or with associates. Evening and weekend work is quite common.

Education and Training

To work in this occupation, candidates must have a doctor of chiropractic. Only the University of Quebec at Trois Rivières (UQTR) offers this five-year program in Quebec. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto is the only Canadian institution to offer this program in English. Membership in theOrdre des chiropraticiens du Québec is mandatory to work in this occupation and to use the title of chiropractor or doctor of chiropractic.

Chiropractors can also specialize in certain fields specific to the chiropractic profession, such as chiropractic orthopedics, diagnostic radiology, nutrition, clinical science and the treatment of sports injuries. These options are offered in colleges with chiropractic specializations.

Useful References

Important Considerations

Considering that demand for chiropractic care is on the rise and the number of graduates from the doctoral program in chiropractic clearly exceeds the number of retirements and deaths, the number of chiropractors should increase sharply over the coming years.

It appears that the number of chiropractors may increase faster than the demand for chiropractic care over the next few years, resulting in a stagnation or even a drop in income for chiropractors.

Statistics 3122 - Chiropractors

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 3122 All occupations
Employment, average 2010-2012 less than 1,500 3,951,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2012 0 87,600
Average Annual Growth Rate 2013-2017 2.2% 0.8%
Annual Employment Variation 2013-2017 not available 33,400
Annual Attrition 2013-2017 not available 73,500
Total Annual Needs 2013-2017 not available 106,900

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 3122 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 61.7% 51.9%
Females 38.3% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 0.0% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 52.7% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 41.4% 41.1%
65 years and over 5.9% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 74.0% 81.2%
Part-time 26.0% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 50.2% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $56,400 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 18.9% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 47.8% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 33.3% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 0.0% 12.1%
High-school 0.9% 20.3%
Post-secondary 0.0% 44.2%
Bachelors 99.1% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 83.3% 10.7%
Immigration 4.1% 13.7%
Employment by Region
RegionUnit Group 3122 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 0.0% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 1.4% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 13.0% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 0.9% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 9.3% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 0.0% 1.6%
Estrie 7.0% 3.8%
Gaspésie-îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.0% 0.9%
Lanaudière 4.2% 6.1%
Laurentides 10.2% 7.3%
Laval 4.2% 5.2%
Mauricie 7.4% 3.0%
Montérégie 19.5% 19.2%
Montréal 14.0% 22.9%
Outaouais 3.3% 4.9%
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean 5.6% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

SectorUnit Group 3122
Ambulatory Health Care Services (Offices of Chiropractors included) 100.0%