Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Chiropractors and Osteopaths

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for chiropractors and osteopaths are reasonably good. It is a small, but growing occupation, and getting a job should not be hard for new graduates. There could be tougher competition for roles in the bigger cities. Income and fees are both high.

How to become a chiropractor or osteopath

What they do

Chiropractors specialise in the detection and correction of spinal dysfunctions.

Osteopaths use movements to treat tissue strains and disorders. They also advise patients on how to live healthily.


To be a chiropractor, you need to complete 5 years of full time study graduating with a Bachelor of Chiropractic. To practice in New Zealand you must be registered with the New Zealand Chiropractic Board. Before starting the bachelor’s degree, a one-year of specific health science courses must be completed.

To be an osteopath, a Master of Osteopathy is needed. This builds on a Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Biology). You also need to be registered with the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand.

Osteopaths and chiropractors both need an annual practising certificate.

Osteopathic Council New Zealand:
New Zealand Chiropractic Board:

Cost of study

Bachelor of ChiropracticMaster of Osteopathy
$65,720 over 4 years $24,000 over two years

Example costs in 2016 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation. Note that due to the prerequisites of the two programmes, there are more costs than the ones stated above. Because the prerequisites for osteopathy are more extensive, the extra costs are larger than for chiropractic.

The Bachelor of Chiropractic costs around $16,430 per year over 4 years. Because of the prerequisite year required to start the bachelor’s degree, the total cost will be higher.

The Master of Osteopathy costs around $24,000 over two years. Again, the total cost will be higher because students need to complete a bachelor’s degree before enrolling.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students who are studying through polytechnics, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy services website.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

The Bachelor of Chiropractic is only available from the New Zealand College of Chiropractic in Auckland. The prerequisite year can be completed anywhere, but it has to be approved by the College before the start of studying the prerequisites.

The Master of Osteopathy is only available from Unitec in Auckland. The prerequisite Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Biology) is also only available from Unitec.

New Zealand College of Chiropractic:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a master’s degree in the broader category ‘Rehabilitation therapies’ has been between 80 and 110 in recent years. Of these, fewer than 30 per year have been in chiropractic or osteopathy. This means the supply of new graduates is small.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2016, the annual income for chiropractors and osteopaths is estimated to be around $67,000. Income depends on experience and employment situation (for example, whether someone is employed as staff or self-employed).

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
567 729 851 963
  3.7% 2.2% 2.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Health Therapy Professionals”.

The number of chiropractors and osteopaths in employment is small, but numbers rose quickly between 2006 and 2013. That growth in employment is expected to continue, albeit at a slower rate out to 2025. This means it should be relatively easy for new graduates to find employment.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

 Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
23% 16% 1% 79% $48,200

Source: Ministry of Education.
*Two years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Rehabilitation Therapies. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

Two years after graduation with a bachelor’s degree, most osteopaths and chiropractors are in employment. A reasonably high proportion is overseas, whereas relatively few are in further study. Almost no one is receiving a benefit.

Chiropractors and osteopaths are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage list

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Since 2008, the number of online job advertisements for chiropractors and osteopaths has increased at a faster rate than the average for all vacancies.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Chiropractor and osteopath vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites. The New Zealand College of Chiropractic posts job vacancies on their website.

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

Chiropractors and osteopaths can establish their own practices. Many are self-employed and their income then depends on their reputation and customer base. For example, chiropractors in practice for 6-10 years median income is $100,000. (2016 SAC Survey of New Zealand Chiropractic Profession)

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level chiropractors and osteopaths.

  • Physiotherapist
  • Podiatrist

Other information


More information on chiropractors and osteopaths is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of chiropractors and osteopaths has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

2521 – Chiropractors and Osteopaths