How to Become a Chiropractor in Canada
If you want to make a difference and help others, discover what it takes to become a chiropractor.
Have you ever had neck pain after sitting at a computer working on your essay for hours? Do you ever get a pain in your back after being active? If you’ve ever experienced these ailments, then you may have wondered who to turn to, and one answer is a chiropractor. If this is a career that interests you, then find out exactly what a chiropractor does and how to become a chiropractor in Canada.
What is a chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a health care professional who can ease back and neck pain, reduce inflammation, and minimize headaches and migraines. New chiropractors usually join an established chiropractor’s private practice or clinics that offer a mix of health services. Once established, many chiropractors will open their own practice, either by themselves or with a group of chiropractors.
Most chiropractors will work regular office hours, but some will also see patients on weekends. If you open your own practice, you’ll be able to decide the hours you’d like to work.
What does a chiropractor do?
Chiropractors are licensed medical specialists who typically use manual therapy to treat patients’ spine, nervous system, and musculoskeletal problems. This means that chiropractors adjust their patients’ spines or joints to relieve pain and regain mobility.
Have you ever cracked your knuckles and heard that pop? Well, chiropractors have the knowledge and education to know how to properly adjust your muscles and joints, which can create that same popping sound, but is more likely to provide relief. That’s not all chiropractors do! Here are some other common duties of a chiropractor:
- Assess, diagnose, and create a treatment plan for a patient’s pain
- Perform neuromuscular therapy — adjusting a patient’s joints and spine
- Use other treatment plans like ultrasound and soft tissue therapy
- Share advice and exercise plans for patients to perform themselves to relieve pain
- Order x-rays to assess patient issues if necessary
Chiropractors can also specialize in specific areas, such as:
- Diagnostic imaging
- Sports sciences
If you want to learn more about chiropractic care, check out this video by the Ontario Chiropractic Association and the University of Guelph:
How do you become a chiropractor in Canada?
If becoming a chiropractor sounds like the career for you, here’s four steps on how you can become a licensed chiropractor in Canada:
Step one: Undergraduate education
The first step to becoming a chiropractor in Canada is to complete three full years of a bachelor’s degree at a university. What you study in your undergrad depends on which of the two Canadian accredited chiropractic schools you’d like to go to.
If you want to study at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, you can study in any program, and it’s recommended, but not mandatory, that you take courses in organic chemistry and biology, psychology, and some courses in the humanities and/or social sciences.
If you want to study at the Université du Quebéc à Trois-Rivières and you pursue your undergrad in Quebec, then you’ll need a bachelor’s degree with courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. But, if you pursue your undergrad outside of Quebec, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in French secondary education and have taken courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics.
If you’d like to study at an accredited chiropractic school outside of Canada, then make sure you check each school’s requirements to ensure your undergraduate education will match.
Step two: Doctor of Chiropractic degree
The next requirement you’ll need to become a chiropractor in Canada is a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from an accredited program. Here are the only two schools that are currently accredited with their admissions requirements:
- Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (four years long)
- Three years of a bachelor’s degree
- Minimum GPA of 3.00 (although the accepted applicants for the class of 2024 had a GPA of 3.5)
- Personal statement
- Admissions interview
- Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (five years long)
- Bachelor’s degree (in French if studying outside of Quebec) with prerequisite courses
- CASPer exam
- Good command of the French language (may require a French test)
- Strong GPA
- Admissions interview
You can also explore your chiropractic education options outside of Canada at an accredited chiropractic school in the United States or abroad, or you can graduate from non-accredited chiropractic programs and still get a licence if you can show your program meets the Canadian requirements to be a chiropractor.
The first two to three years of your Doctor of Chiropractic degree is spent building a foundation of knowledge in basic sciences in the classroom and labs. The last year or two is then spent applying this knowledge in cases. You’ll also participate in 12 months of clinical internships where you’ll provide direct care to patients under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor.
Step three: Pass an exam
Now that you’ve got the education, you’ll need the license! The Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board (CCEB) offers the exam that provinces in Canada accept. Previously, this exam consisted of three parts: two written exams and one clinical exam. However, as of October 2023, the CCEB exam will begin implementing new changes to their exams (pdf). There will be one written exam and one clinical exam. By May 2024, the new written and clinical exams will fully be in effect. You’ll have four attempts per exam to pass.
The written exam is offered three times a year and is broken up into two sessions: a three-hour session in the morning, followed by a lunch break, and then a three-hour session in the afternoon. The exam will contain multiple-choice and case-based questions.
The clinical exam consists of 12 stations, each lasting 12 minutes, that walks you through common tasks you’ll experience as a chiropractor. For more information on what activities you’ll do and how you’re scored, check out the new CCEB Examinations Candidate Handbook (pdf).
Step four: Register with your province’s regulatory authority
The final step to becoming a chiropractor in Canada is registering with your province’s regulatory board. Each province and territory will have different requirements for becoming a member, but here are some common requirements:
- An ethics and legislation exam
- Criminal record/vulnerable sectors check
- Provide evidence of good character
- Proof of professional liability coverage
Once you’re registered within your province, you can begin practicing as a licensed chiropractor.
Here’s a question many people have: “how much do chiropractors in Canada make?” The average salary for a chiropractor in Canada is $60,077. But if you want a better idea of how much you could make, check out the low, average, and high salary earnings of chiropractors in Canada.
If you want to start your career as a chiropractor, explore the Canadian Government’s Job Bank for openings for chiropractors in Canada. There are currently more job openings than there are chiropractors, and this shortage is expected to continue for the next decade, so this could be a good career for you!
You may have heard that chiropractors have a controversial history, but if this sounds like the job for you, then go for it! With Canada’s aging population, having a career in health care is sure to pay off!
Learn more about a career as a chiropractor