Some people refer to chiropractors as “alternative healers who press people’s bones for treating or preventing various disorders“. We believe this description isn’t totally accurate, because there’s a science behind this practice which proves there’s more to it than simply pressing some bones. Anyway, what’s important is that they’re remunerated pretty well, considering it requires only entry level education: just a postgraduate professional degree.
In 2017, in the USA, the average chiropractor salary is estimated to be around $70,000 per year and, during the last four years (2013 ~ 2016), it ranged between $62,000 and $80,000, leaving aside the self-employed professionals, whose earnings are much higher.
Other factors which ensure high incomes for this occupation are: practicing in the private sector, having many years of experience, working in metropolitan areas and being certified in several related specialties, like massage therapy, acupuncture and nutrition support.
Chiropractor Job Description
The chiropractor is the healthcare practitioner who uses his or her hands to press, push, massage and move the bones, muscles and skin, for correcting the positions of bones and joints (places where two bones are connected), in order to treat the neck and back pain, as well as the disorders affecting the nerves, muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments (elements of the neuromusculoskeletal system).
For earning their salary, these specialists not only treat the above mentioned pains and the disorders of the aforementioned system, but they also evaluate the health status of their patients and help them to prevent these pains and the health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system; these professionals also perform some related tasks, as indicated in the subsection below.
When performing the necessary manual manipulations, these specialists use not only their own hands, but also some chiropractic tools and equipment, like the adjustment table, which is, in fact, a special bed on which the patient must sit (during the examination and treatment phases) and whose parts can be moved so that the patient sits in the required position.
If you’re wondering “does chiropractic work?”, you should know that the services offered by these practitioners are a modality of holistic healing, a form of alternative and complementary medicine, form that is sometimes controversial, since it is claimed that it is not based on science and that its health benefits are, in general, unproven. But there are some studies which confirm the effectiveness of the techniques used by these health specialists.
These healthcare professionals are not physicians or medical doctors (this can be noticed by simply looking at the starting salary of chiropractors, which is much inferior to the one of a physician), because they aren’t specialists in general or internal medicine, they aren’t required to complete a medical school or to earn a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, in order to earn the right to legally practice their job. They are just some health practitioners who need, however, to earn a postgraduate professional degree, called “Doctor of Chiropractic”, after completing a four year program.
If you’re wondering “how does chiropractic therapy work?”, you should know that the treatment offered by these professionals is based on the idea that the incorrect positions of the spinal joints affect the neuromuscular system of a person, which damages the overall health of that person, because it causes various disorders and illnesses. That is why these therapists deal especially with the spinal column: by adjusting its bones, they think that they treat the health problems caused by their misalignment.
Most of the chiropractors work in the offices of other health practitioners, and only a few practice in hospitals and offices of physicians. In the United States, about one third of these therapists are self-employed. Most of them work full time, while a quarter of them work part time. When it’s necessary, they consult with specialized physicians or send their patients to specialized physicians, for treating their health problems – when they exceed their level of competence.
The most similar professions to the one of these alternative healers are: massage therapist, podiatrist, physical therapist, exercise physiologist and athletic trainer. However, these occupations should not be confused, as they are different from each other and they also differ from the occupation described in this article. In one of the following subsections of this post, the median chiropractor pay is compared with the median wages paid for these similar jobs, in the United States of America.
What Does a Chiropractor Do?
In general, the persons go to these practitioners when they have a pain caused by a bone, muscle or joint – most often, a back or neck pain. The first thing this therapist does is to ask the patient about the symptoms, the general health and the medical history.
Then, this specialist examines the patient and tries to discover what causes the pain. He or she can even perform some diagnosing tests, like taking x rays. During these stages, the patient may be asked to take off some of its clothes.
The most important of the chiropractor duties consists in adjusting the misplaced joints of the patient, by various manual manipulations, like pressing or moving certain soft tissues, bones or muscles.
Other tasks that may be accomplished by these healthcare practitioners (for enjoying their decent earnings) are:
- providing supplementary treatments or therapies, like massage, acupuncture or applying heat on the injured areas;
- advising patients about other health aspects, like nutrition or physical exercises;
- consulting with physicians or other healthcare professionals, about the most appropriate modality of treating the patient;
- hiring employees, deciding on the work hours and chiropractor prices, and performing other administrative tasks – when they are self-employed.
How to Become a Chiropractor
Although there are some international recommendations regarding the qualifications and skills needed for legally practicing this job, the career path of these practitioners varies pretty much from one country to another.
In the USA, the candidates for this healthcare position must meet all these job requirements:
- complete at least three years in a college, where they ought to attend courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry and physics;
- earn a Bachelor’s degree – this is mandatory only in some states;
- complete an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) program – it lasts usually four years;
- earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree;
- earn a state license;
- pass the board (National Board of Chiropractic Examiners) exam;
- pass state-specific jurisprudence exams – this is mandatory only in some states;
- educate continually, in order to keep their license of practice.
Those who ask themselves “how much does a chiropractor make per hour?” should know that their hourly income (especially of the self-employed ones) is determined by the number of abilities they have, as well as by the levels of the abilities they possess. The skills that are needed for successfully practicing this profession are:
- excellent manual dexterity – as the primary duty of these experts is to use their hands for correcting the positions of the bones, muscles and joints of their patients;
- good interpersonal skills – because they must listen to their patients, understand their pains and worries, explain them the procedures (the manual manipulations needed for treating them) and advise them about nutrition and physical exercises that are recommended for treating or preventing the disorders; after all, especially if they are self-employed, the quality of their communication with their patients determines their earnings, because good interpersonal skills always result in many satisfied patients, who usually recommend their alternative healer to their friends and relatives, while poor interpersonal and communication skills often lead to unhappy clients and few patients;
- reasonableness and good moral values – since they touch the body of their patients most of the time and they usually need to ask them to undress (for examining or treating them), these professionals must behave in an appropriate manner, avoiding to become too friendly with their patients; they must always use the common sense and they should be very careful to avoid making their patients feel aggressed or embarrassed;
- detail orientation – in order to properly diagnose and treat their clients.
Chiropractor Education, Training and Certifications
In the USA, the education that is necessary for practicing this job is acquired during the study at the college (when the applicants should follow courses in anatomy, biology, physics and chemistry), as well as during the years spent at one of the accredited chiropractic schools (for earning the D.C. degree). The necessary training is obtained also in the D.C. program.
The certifications required in the United States for legally practicing this profession vary by state, in general, and they are:
- bachelor’s degree – obligatory only in some US states;
- D.C. degree;
- state-specific license.
Pros and Cons of Being a Chiropractor
This profession is attractive because:
- it provides a status which is pretty close to the one of a medical doctor, without having to spend so many years educating and training for the physician job;
- it can offer pretty high chiropractor wages, especially in the private practice and in the metropolitan areas;
- it offers great satisfaction when healing the pains of the patients and seeing their gratitude.
The main downsides of this occupation are:
- standing on feet most of the working time, while examining and treating the patients;
- having to hear the screams of patients, during the painful adjustments of their bones.
Chiropractor Job Growth
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are good employment prospects for this job, because people prefer this approach of the alternative healthcare, as it doesn’t use surgical procedures or medications. Another reason why the employment of this occupation is expected to grow is that persons of all ages become more and more interested by the complementary healthcare methods, which, unlike the ones of the conventional medicine, are much more natural and claimed to better help the organism to heal itself.
The job outlook for these professionals is good also due to the fact that the baby-boomers get old and the problems that these practitioners deal with (disorders of joints, bones, muscles, nerves, tendons) occur especially to the elderly people. Moreover, thanks to the federal health reforms, the chiropractic services will be covered by more insurance plans, so more people will afford to benefit from these alternative healthcare services. As indicated on bls.gov, the employment opportunities for these professionals are estimated to grow with 17% in this decade: 2014 ~ 2024.
Just like the wages of any other health professionals, the salary of a chiropractor depends on several factors, the most important ones being:
- level of experience – the wages paid for the entry level are much lower than the ones earned by the professionals with over twenty years of experience;
- sector of employment – those working in the private sector enjoy, in general, higher earnings than the ones employed in the public sector;
- type of practice – those professionals who are self-employed benefit from much higher wages than those who work for the others, even in the private sector, because they decide on the price of the health services they offer;
- region of employment – the United States of America is the best paying country for this job; the salaries enjoyed in the metropolitan areas are significantly higher than the ones enjoyed in the nonmetropolitan areas;
- industry of employment – in general, the chiropractors working in the offices of physicians or of other health practitioners, as well as those practicing in outpatient care centers earn more than those employed in hospitals;
- skills acquired – it seems that the interpersonal skills, acupuncture and nutrition support are the best paying skills for this profession;
- type of employment – a part-time practice is usually lower remunerated than a full-time one.
Chiropractor Salary in USA
The United States of America offer the highest salaries for these professionals. In the sub-sections of this section there are presented the average and median earnings in the US – annual and hourly values – as well as the best paying US states, areas and industries for this profession in 2015, followed by a quick comparison with the wages earned in 2015 in the USA for similar occupations. Most of these data are taken from the official website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov.
Average and Median Wages – Annual and Hourly
In 2016, the median annual income of these professionals who worked in the USA was estimated, on payscale.com, to approximately $60,000; this is equivalent to a median hourly wage of $31. The national average pay for this occupation is $62,000/year.
As indicated on the official website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 in the USA, the median chiropractor pay was about $65,000 per year; this means that, in May 2015, half of the persons employed in this job in the United States earned less than $65,000/year, while the other half were paid with more than $65,000/year.
The average earnings were $78,370/year, or $37.68/hour, in May 2015. The best paid 10% of these professionals earned at least $140,000/year ($67/hour), while the lowest paid 10% of this occupation were remunerated with at most $31,310/year ($15.05/hour).
In 2014, bls.gov published for this job an annual average of $79,760 (which means $38.35/hour), and a median wage of $66,720/year ($32.08/hour). The values computed in May 2013 for this profession are: average earnings – $78,410/year ($37.70/hour); median earnings – $65,300/year ($31.40/hour).
The conclusion is that, in the United States of America, over the last four years, the average annual chiropractor salary ranged between $62,000 and $80,000, while the median yearly pay varied between $60,000 and $65,300.
Chiropractor Salaries by State and Area
In 2015, the five top paying US states for this job were (according to bls.gov): Alaska, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana and Connecticut, with the average annual wages: $138,690, $126,960, $118,000, $103,980 and $98,880, respectively.
However, the states with the highest employment level in this occupation were: California (2,860 chiropractors, without the self-employed ones), Texas (2,100), Florida (2,020), New York (1,680) and Illinois (1,630), where the mean yearly salaries were, respectively: $82,080, $57,310, $87,670, $91,880 and $65,010.
The US top paying metropolitan areas for this profession were these, in May 2015, as indicated on bls.gov: Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division ($169,500/year on average for this occupation), Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division ($154,960/yr. on avg.) and Anchorage, AK ($139,410/yr. on avg.). The nonmetropolitan areas who offered the highest incomes for this position were: Eastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area ($152,710/yr. on avg.), Capital/Northern New York nonmetropolitan area ($123,360) and Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area ($95,570).
Chiropractor Wages by Industry
In the USA, in May 2015, the industries that offered the highest chiropractor incomes were: Outpatient Care Centers ($105,640/year), Offices of Physicians ($79,270/yr.), Offices of Other Health Practitioners ($78,050/yr.), Employment Services ($65,900/yr.) and General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ($58,420/yr.).
The industries that were the “richest” in these professionals were: Offices of Other Health Practitioners (29,550 chiropractors, not including the self-employed ones), Offices of Physicians (1,330) and General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (450).
Comparison with Wages for Similar Jobs
In the USA, in 2015, the median wage of the massage therapists (who need only a postsecondary nondegree award) was $38,040/year, which is almost half of the median earnings of the alternative healers presented in this article. The physical therapists, who need a doctoral degree, earned a median annual pay of $84,020, while the podiatrists (who also need a doctoral degree) enjoyed a mean yearly salary of $119,340. The exercise physiologists, who need just a Bachelor’s degree, were remunerated with a median pay of $47,010/year, while the athletic trainers enjoyed a mean yearly wage of $44,670, having the same education requirements.
Chiropractor Salary in UK
Those who wonder “how much does a chiropractor make per hour in the United Kingdom?“ should know that the hourly wage of this job ranges between £9 and £42 (in US dollars: $11 ~ $52), because the average yearly pay varies from £18,000 to £87,000 ($22,000 ~ $108,000), depending on the level of experience and the type of practice: public or private. Those who are self-employed earn, in general, much more than the others.
Paycale.com displays a median annual pay for this job of £32,500 (40,500 USD), which indicates that half of the persons practicing this job in UK earn less than £32,500 per annum, and the other half of these professionals earn more than £32,500 per annum.
Chiropractor Salary in Canada
The average annual salary of the chiropractors working in Canada is around C$65,000 (Canadian dollars), that is about $50,000 (US dollars). This corresponds to an hourly income of CAD 31.25 (24 USD), since a “full-time year” is considered to have 2,080 hours of work.
As displayed on payscale.com, the median annual wage for this occupation in Canada is approximately 63,000 CAD (48,000 USD), which suggests that half of the individuals occupying this job in Canada are paid with less than C$63,000/year, and half with over C$63,000/year. The median hourly wage is about C$42 (or 32 USD).
Chiropractor Salary in Australia
In Australia, the chiropractor salaries range from A$37,000 to A$153,000 (in US dollars: $28,000 ~ $117,000) per annum, depending on the level of experience, skills acquired and sector of practice. The median wage for this position, in this country, is estimated to about A$63,000 per year or A$30 per hour, which signifies that 50% of the persons who practice this profession in Australia are remunerated with over A$63,000 ($48,000) per year, while 50% of the individuals working in this position earn under A$63,000 per year.
In Australia, the national average pay for this profession is somewhere around A$70,000 (53,000 USD) per annum, which is equivalent to an hourly income of approximately A$33 or 25 USD.
In the United States of America, as well as in other countries, the chiropractors can make good money, especially in the private practice, if they have many years of experience and if they are certified in several specialties, like acupuncture and nutrition education. Unlike the physicians and surgeons, these alternative healers don’t have to study and train as hard, though the most successful chiropractors are those who dedicate their entire life to mastering this “healing art”.
*image source https://commons.wikimedia.org/