Chiropractors


Quick Facts: Chiropractors
2017 Median Pay $68,640 per year 
$33.00 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 47,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 5,900

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Chiropractors Career, Salary and Education Information

What Chiropractors Do

Chiropractors care for patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, as well as other clinical interventions, to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain.

Chiropractor.jpg

CHIROPRACTORS

duties of chiropractors

Chiropractors typically do the following:

  • Assess a patient’s medical condition by reviewing the patient’s medical history and concerns, and by performing a physical examination

  • Analyze the patient’s posture, spine, and reflexes

  • Conduct tests, including evaluating a patient’s posture and taking x rays

  • Provide neuromusculoskeletal therapy, which often involves adjusting a patient’s spinal column and other joints

  • Give additional treatments, such as applying heat or cold to a patient’s injured areas

  • Advise patients on health and lifestyle issues, such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits

  • Refer patients to other healthcare professionals if needed

Chiropractors focus on patients’ overall health. Chiropractors believe that malfunctioning spinal joints and other somatic tissues interfere with a person’s neuromuscular system and can result in poor health.

Some chiropractors use procedures such as massage therapy, rehabilitative exercise, and ultrasound in addition to spinal adjustments and manipulation. They also may apply supports, such as braces or shoe inserts, to treat patients and relieve pain.

In addition to operating a general chiropractic practice, some chiropractors specialize in areas such as sports, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, or nutrition, among others. Chiropractors in private practice are responsible for marketing their businesses, hiring staff, and keeping records.


Work Environment for Chiropractors

Chiropractors held about 47,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of chiropractors were as follows:

Offices of chiropractors: 63%

Self-employed workers: 30%

Offices of physicians: 3%

Chiropractors typically work in office settings. They may be on their feet for long periods when examining and treating patients.

Work Schedules for chiropractors

Although most chiropractors worked full time, about 1 in 4 worked part time in 2016. Chiropractors may work in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. Some chiropractors travel to patients’ homes to give treatment. Self-employed chiropractors set their own hours.


How to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license. Doctor of Chiropractic programs typically take 4 years to complete and require at least 3 years of undergraduate college education for admission.

Education

Prospective chiropractors are required to have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree—a postgraduate professional degree that typically takes 4 years to complete. In 2017, there were 15 Doctor of Chiropractic programs on 18 campuses accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education.

Admission to D.C. programs requires at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate education, and some D.C. programs require a bachelor’s degree for entry. Most students typically earn a bachelor’s degree before applying to a chiropractic program. Schools have specific requirements for their chiropractic programs, but they generally require coursework in the liberal arts and in sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology. Candidates should check with individual schools regarding their specific requirements.

A D.C. program includes classwork in anatomy, physiology, biology, and similar subjects. Chiropractic students also get supervised clinical experience in which they train in spinal assessment, adjustment techniques, and making diagnoses. D.C. programs also may include classwork in business management and in billing and finance. Most D.C. programs offer a dual-degree option, in which students may earn either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in another field while completing their D.C.

Some chiropractors complete postgraduate programs that lead to diplomate credentials. These programs provide additional training in specialty areas, such as orthopedics and pediatrics. Classes are taken at chiropractic colleges.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states and the District of Columbia require chiropractors to be licensed. Although specific requirements vary by state, all require the completion of an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program and passing all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam.

Many states also require applicants to pass a background check and state-specific law exams, called jurisprudence exams. All states require a practicing chiropractor to take continuing education classes to maintain his or her chiropractic license. Check with your state’s board of chiropractic examiners or health department for more specific information on licensure.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Chiropractors must determine the best course of action when treating a patient. They must also decide when to refer patients to other healthcare professionals.

Detail oriented. Chiropractors must be observant and pay attention to details so that they can make proper diagnoses and avoid mistakes that could harm patients.

Dexterity. Because they use their hands to perform manual adjustments to the spine and other joints, chiropractors should have good coordination to perform therapy effectively.

Empathy. Chiropractors often care for people who are in pain. They must be understanding and sympathetic to their patients’ problems and needs.

Interpersonal skills. Chiropractors must be personable in order to keep clients coming to their practice. Also, because chiropractors frequently touch patients in performing therapy, they should be able to put their patients at ease.

Organizational skills. Self-employed chiropractors may need to schedule appointments, manage employees, bill insurance companies, and maintain patients’ files. Good recordkeeping and other organizational skills are critical in running a successful business.


salaries for Chiropractors

The median annual wage for chiropractors was $68,640 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,550, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $144,730.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for chiropractors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Offices of physicians: $78,710

Offices of chiropractors: $67,710

Earnings vary with the chiropractor’s number of years in practice, geographic region of practice, and hours worked. Chiropractors tend to earn more as they build a client base and become owners of, or partners in, a practice.

Although most chiropractors worked full time, about 1 in 4 worked part time in 2016. Chiropractors may work in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. Some chiropractors travel to patients’ homes to give treatment. Self-employed chiropractors set their own hours.

The median annual wages for athletic trainers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private: $48,170

Hospitals; state, local, and private: $45,490

Fitness and recreational sports centers: $44,540

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists: $41,800

Most athletic trainers work full time. Athletic trainers who work with teams during sporting events may work evenings or weekends and travel often.


Job Outlook for chiropractors

Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. People across all age groups are increasingly becoming interested in integrative or complementary healthcare as a way to treat pain and improve overall wellness. Chiropractic care is appealing to patients because chiropractors use nonsurgical methods of treatment and do not prescribe drugs.

Chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, limbs, and involved joints has become more accepted as a result of research and changing attitudes about additional approaches to healthcare. As a result, chiropractors are increasingly working with other healthcare workers, such as physicians and physical therapists, through referrals and complementary care.

The aging of the large baby-boom generation will lead to new opportunities for chiropractors because older adults are more likely than younger people to have neuromusculoskeletal and joint problems. Members of the aging population will likely continue to seek treatment for these conditions as they lead longer, more active lives.

Demand for chiropractic treatment is related to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or through health insurance. Although most insurance plans now cover chiropractic services, the extent of such coverage varies among plans.

 

Employment projections data for Chiropractors, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 47,400

Projected Employment, 2026: 53,300

Change, 2016-2026: +12%, +5,900


Careers Related to chiropractors

Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.

Dentists

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Exercise Physiologists

Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility.

Massage Therapists

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. With their touch, therapists relieve pain, help heal injuries, improve circulation, relieve stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of the rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Podiatrists

Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Athletic TrainersBachelor's degree$46,630
Massage TherapistsPostsecondary nondegree award$39,990
Occupational TherapistsMaster's degree$83,200
Physical TherapistsDoctoral or professional degree$86,850
Physicians and SurgeonsDoctoral or professional degreeThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.
PodiatristsDoctoral or professional degree$127,740
Exercise PhysiologistsBachelor's degree$49,090
DentistsDoctoral or professional degree$158,120
OptometristsDoctoral or professional degree$110,300

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Chiropractors,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/chiropractors.htm