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Chiropractors and Osteopaths

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for chiropractors and osteopaths are reasonably good. They are small, but growing occupations, 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 focus on how the joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function together as a unit. They also advise patients on how to live healthily.

Their tasks may include:

  • administering a variety of neurological, musculoskeletal and functional tests to identify and assess physical problems and ailments of patients
  • planning and discussing effective management of patients' dysfunction
  • designing, reviewing, monitoring, assessing and evaluating treatment programs
  • assisting and improving the function of all body systems such as musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and genitourinary systems
  • recording detailed patient medical histories, treatments delivered and the patients' responses and progress to treatments
  • referring patients to specialists and liaising with other Health Professionals in relation to patients' problems, needs and progress
  • educating patients, their partners, family and friends in therapeutic procedures, such as home exercises and lifestyle changes, to enhance patients' health and wellbeing.


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
$68,200 over 4 years $25,000 over two years

Example costs in 2018 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 $17,090 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 in Applied Science(Human Biology) ($22,200 over three years) 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 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 bachelor’s degree in the Chiropractic and Osteopathy fell after 2012 but has started to pick up again.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the annual income for chiropractors and osteopaths is estimated to be around $71,700. 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 2023 2028
567 729 830 890
  3.7% 2.2% 1.2%

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 strongly between 2006 and 2013. That growth in employment is projected to continue at a moderate rate out to 2028. This means it should be relatively easy for new graduates to find employment.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections


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

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

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 between $80,000 and $100,000. (2019 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: (Chirpractor)

Careers New Zealand: (Osteopath)


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