The average chiropractor salary is approximately $68,000 per year, which is earned after completing approximately 8 years of education. Requirements for earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree vary by state, but you must adhere to a specific education, licensing, and continuing education requirements to obtain a D.C. Chiropractors take on the title of doctor, but they do not prescribe medication or perform any surgery.
A chiropractor’s job is not traditional in the medical field. It’s an alternative form of treatment that allows pain management through physical manipulation of muscles, tendons, and other parts of the body. A chiropractor helps patients learn to deal with their pain without turning to more complicated or invasive means. The job outlook is promising as more people who are pregnant, living with health problems, and aging are looking for more natural ways to manage their ailments and pain.
What is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a medical professional focusing specifically on neuromuscular disorders. A chiropractor diagnoses and treats these disorders, and they do so in a professional office setting using manual manipulation. The primary goal of a chiropractor is to help patients find pain relief by adjusting the spine using the manual manipulation technique, though this type of medical treatment is often classified as an alternative type of medical care rather than traditional medical care.
As a chiropractor, you will commonly treat patients who suffer from neck and back pain. You’ll use adjustments to help relieve pain and provide relief, and you’ll focus on the health of your patients' ligaments and tendons. Part of the job entails helping patients find relief through manual manipulation before helping them find alternative methods to manage pain and live a healthier, more comfortable lives.
Despite being labeled as an alternative form of medicine, chiropractors are doctors. To become a chiropractor, you must go through the required educational and licensing programs to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. You add D.C. to the end of your name when you graduate with this doctoral degree. If you want to work in the field, you have the opportunity to work in a private practice, to open your own practice, and to earn a healthy chiropractor salary that varies based on where you live and work.
Education & Certification
It takes approximately eight years to become a chiropractor and begin working to earn a chiropractor salary. Depending on how many classes you take at a time, you have the option of finishing your degree in fewer than eight years. You may also take longer if you don’t take a full class load every semester. The first step to becoming a chiropractor is earning your Bachelor’s Degree.
It’s important to note that not every chiropractic school in every state requires you to hold a Bachelor’s Degree to become a chiropractor. You must, however, complete your 90 hours of undergraduate education. Most people obtain their four-year college degree so they meet the requirements for this career path in every state. It’s important you check with the chiropractic school you wish to attend to ensure you meet the requirements while enrolling in your undergraduate program.
Once you graduate with a B.A. or complete your mandatory 90-hours of undergrad coursework, you apply to a Doctor of Chiropractic Program. There are 15 programs across the country to which you may apply, and entry requirements are strict. You must maintain stellar grades through your undergrad career and show an aptitude for this program of study.
D.C. programs require four years of coursework, and many offer you the opportunity to work as an intern at a chiropractic office to learn the techniques while practicing them under the supervision of a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic. Depending on the program in which you enroll, you also have the opportunity to spend time working on a dual degree that allows you to earn a post-graduate degree in another subject at the same time.
State Certifications and Licenses
Once you graduate from your D.C. program, you must take and pass a state certification to obtain a state license to practice as a chiropractor. This test is administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. It’s a three-part exam that also has an optional fourth part for those who want to take a more advanced approach to the test. You must pass to earn your certification in every state. However, some states require you to take a state test in addition to this national test before you can become a licensed chiropractor able to earn that chiropractor salary.
Continuing Education Requirements
All medically related fields change regularly, and you are required to complete continuing education courses throughout the entirety of your career. Your license must be renewed annually in most states, and failure to adhere to continuing education requirements is grounds for the state to suspend your license and make it illegal for you to practice.
The career path of a chiropractor is vast. Most work in a private practice setting because this type of alternative medicine does not include pain management through the use of medication or surgery. Many doctors of chiropractic go on to own their own practice in which they see and treat patients, and many offer additional alternative practices designed to help patients live a healthier and more comfortable life.
Once you are licensed and able to start working as a chiropractor, you might find your career path leads you to a specific type of practice. Many chiropractors specialize in a specific type of pain management, such as sports pain management or pediatric pain management. There is an exponential opportunity for growth in this industry. More people are looking to alternative forms of treatment for their pain. Many patients hope to turn to something other than medicine or surgery for help, and they hope to avoid using medication or surgery altogether.
Becoming a chiropractor also allows you to take on the title of doctor without the hours of other forms of medicine. Chiropractors are not typically on call during the evening, weekend, or overnight hours. You work more typical hours during the day, and you only opt to work night and weekend hours if you choose. This field of practice is more conducive for maintaining your personal life if you choose to have a family and children.
Average Chiropractor Salary
A chiropractor salary allows you to maintain a healthy financial lifestyle. The average chiropractor's salary in the United States is $68,640 per year. The average chiropractor salary on the low end of the pay scale is $34,550 annually, and $144,730 annually if you fall into the top 10 percent. These numbers are general because they’re based on several factors. You could earn much more or much less than this based on the following trends in the chiropractic industry.
Number Of Hours Worked
According to studies, nearly a quarter of all chiropractors only work part-time hours. It goes to show this line of work is very generous in terms of maintaining a work/life balance. Working part-time hours means you make far less, but it does pay off in terms of free time and flexibility. A chiropractor who owns their own business is going to make more than those who work for others.
Geographical Location And Office Type
Working in an office of chiropractors typically pays an average of $10,000 less annually than working in as a chiropractor in a physician’s office. If you want to earn the highest possible chiropractor salary, you want to work in Rhode Island or New Jersey, which are the states with the highest average salary. Colorado Springs and Miami are the cities with the highest paid chiropractors.
Length Of Time Working
One more factor that determines the annual salary of a chiropractor is the length of time you practice. The longer you are in the field, the more you make. It takes time to build a client base, and with each new client and returning client comes the potential to earn more money whether you work for yourself or for someone else. Many people trust a chiropractor with experience, or they hear recommendations from others that help a chiropractor build clientele.
Deciding upon a career path is personal, but it’s not uncommon for people to look at the length of time it takes to complete school and how much you’ll make in a certain career field. A Doctor of Chiropractic will not make as much money as a doctor who performs surgery or writes prescriptions, but earning potential is high when you open your own practice. It still requires a full four years of chiropractic school, but it does not require medical school, medical board exams, or any type of residency.
Choosing to become a chiropractor opens many doors for earning potential and scheduling freedom, and it's why many people choose to take on the Doctor of Chiropractic title. Understand what's required of you before you apply for this program, and be sure you're getting the type of education needed to further your career throughout the years. It's hard work, but it's hard work that pays off.