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Specialist Physician

Specialist physicians provide medical diagnosis and treatment services in a variety of specific areas including clinical medicine, laboratory medicine and surgery.

Also Known As

Cardiologist, Doctor, Oncologist, Pathologist, Pediatrician, Psychiatrist, Specialist in Geriatric Medicine, Sport Medicine Physician, Surgeon

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Specialists in Clinical Medicine (3111.1);  Specialists in Laboratory Medicine (3111.2);  Specialists in Surgery (3111.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Specialist Physicians (D011) 
  • 2011 NOC: Specialist physicians (3111) 
  • 2016 NOC: Specialist physicians (3111) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Specialists in Clinical Medicine
2006 NOC : 3111.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information about patients' conditions by ordering and interpreting laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic procedures; may conduct medical research

SOCIAL

Interest in mentoring patients by providing treatment for physiological and psychiatric disorders

DIRECTIVE

Interest in precision working to prescribe drugs and treatments, and refer patients for surgery; and in acting as consultants to other physicians

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Specialists in Laboratory Medicine
2006 NOC : 3111.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in mentoring by conducting research to further medical knowledge about the structural and functional changes caused by diseases

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to conduct microscopic and chemical analyses of laboratory samples and specimens

DIRECTIVE

Interest in co-ordinating the supervision of laboratory activities; and in acting as consultants to other physicians

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Specialists in Surgery
2006 NOC : 3111.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in mentoring by assessing patients' diseases and disorders to determine appropriate surgical procedures

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to perform surgical procedures to correct physical abnormalities and deficiencies and repair injuries

DIRECTIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to supervise surgical procedures; and in acting as consultants to other physicians

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Duties
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Specialist physicians diagnose and treat patients in a variety of specific medical areas related to both physical and mental health.

In general, specialist physicians may:

  • assess and diagnose health problems and illnesses related to their area of specialization
  • order, perform and interpret medical, laboratory diagnostic and screening tests
  • determine appropriate treatments which may include lifestyle change, surgery, medication, or more complex treatment or rehabilitation programs
  • perform and supervise surgical procedures, depending on their speciality
  • serve as a consultant to other physicians
  • counsel patients on preventative health care and lifestyle including diet and activity
  • plan and conduct medical laboratory experiments and conduct research on the nature, cause and development of diseases in humans
  • participate in health care teams and co-ordinate their work with other physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health care providers
  • attend meetings with clinic or hospital staff to discuss treatment plans and progress
  • educate and train students
  • sit on university committees and research grant panels
  • act as advocates for patients and help create, organize and implement changes in communities to improve overall health
  • maintain comprehensive medical records.

Specific duties and responsibilities vary depending on the type of position and specialty.

There are many areas physicians can specialize in. Some common specialties include anesthesia, cardiology, emergency medicine, geriatrics, gynecology and obstetrics, intensive care, internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery. For a current list of specialties in Alberta and Canada, see the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) websites.

For a more complete list of the different specialist physicians included under the National Occupation Classification code 3111, please visit the Employment and Social Development Canada website.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 10, 2017
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Specialist physicians' working conditions depend on the type of position they hold and their area of specialization. They are more likely than family physicians to work in hospitals or specialized clinics, though some may work in private practices, universities, laboratories and community settings. The work is rewarding, but can be challenging and emotionally demanding.

Specialist physicians often work very long hours. They may work rotating shifts or be on call or be required to travel in case of medical emergencies. They generally spend part of their time standing to examine, treat or perform and supervise surgical procedures. The remainder of their time is spent at a desk completing paperwork.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Specialist physicians need the following characteristics:

  • the intellectual ability required to successfully complete the required academic training and to continue learning life long
  • the ability to get along with people and instill confidence
  • the stamina required to work long hours
  • high ethical standards
  • good powers of observation
  • the ability to stay calm under pressure
  • emotional strength, maturity, empathy and patience
  • a genuine interest in people and desire to help them
  • high tolerance for uncertainty
  • strong communication, teaching and leadership skills
  • the ability to work effectively and collaboratively as part of a team.

They should enjoy finding solutions to problems, dealing with people and coordinating the work of others.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Specialist physicians

NOC code: 3111

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 38 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Jul 05, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 10, 2017
  • Minimum Education 8+ years post-secondary

Specialist physicians must complete:

  1. pre-medicine studies at the university level
  2. pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  3. complete a four to five year Medical Doctor (MD) degree program at an accredited university
  4. complete four to five years of post graduate specialty residency training
  5. two years of sub specialty training may also be required.

Because MD programs are quota programs, many applicants who fulfill the entrance requirements cannot be accepted. Successful applicants are selected on the basis of:

  • academic grades
  • citizenship
  • non-academic criteria including personal activities, letters of recommendation and personal interviews
  • the results of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

After successfully completing an MD program, candidates who want to be a specialist physician must train for an additional five to seven years to become licensed for independent practice.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

University of Alberta

University of Calgary


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 10, 2017
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Physician, Surgeon and Osteopath

Physicians and surgeons assess the physical, mental and psychosocial condition of individuals to establish a diagnosis; assist individuals to make informed choices about medical and surgical treatments; treat physical, mental and psychosocial conditions; promote wellness, injury avoidance, disease prevention and cure through research and education; and engage in research, education and administration with respect to health. Osteopaths use manual techniques to assess, diagnose and treat diseases, disorders and dysfunctions of the body's structure.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Physicians, Surgeons and Osteopaths Profession Regulation, you must be a registered member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) to practice medicine in Alberta.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Physician, Surgeon and Osteopath.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Most specialist physicians are self-employed. Many specialist physcians work in hospitals or are employed by regional health authorities. Others are employed in:

  • medical research companies
  • university and colleges
  • pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
  • rehabilitation centres
  • public health and community agencies
  • occupational medicine
  • health administration
  • overseas service
  • military service
  • medical clinics.

Experienced specialist physicians may advance to management positions. With additional training, they may specialize in other areas such as sports medicine. For a current list of recognized specializations, see the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) websites.

In Alberta, 91% of people employed as specialist physicians work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation

Over 6,300 Albertans are employed in the Specialist physicians occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 227 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Specialist physicians in private practice are self-employed. Their incomes vary considerably depending on location, specialty, number of patient visits and the cost of running a medical office.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Specialist physicians

2016 NOC : 3111
Average Wage
$36.38
Per Hour
Average Salary
$73,875.00
Per Year
Average Hours
39.5
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3111 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $26.10 $40.42 $34.76 $30.44
Overall $27.50 $42.19 $36.38 $32.78
Top $27.50 $59.20 $39.99 $38.07

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
N/A
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
N/A
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Alberta Medical Association (AMA) website: www.albertadoctors.org

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) website: www.cpsa.ca

Medical Council of Canada (MCC) website: www.mcc.ca

Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) website: www.royalcollege.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 24, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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