Chiropractor Salary


Career as a Chiropractor



By Diane Turner

Chiropractors are responsible for treating health problems relating to the musculoskeletal system. This includes the tendons, muscles, ligaments and bones. These professionals will perform techniques such as spinal manipulations to treat the patient, typically assisting them with relieving pain. The average salary for a chiropractor will be dependent on the type of treatments they perform and how many patients they take on at their practice.

The average chiropractor will use the patient’s medical history and a review of their concerns to lead a physical examination to determine the cause of their discomfort. This may include analyzing the patient’s spine and posture, advising the patients about how to alter different lifestyle issues like their sleeping position to avoid pain, performing diagnostic exams like x-rays, providing musculoskeletal therapy, recommending home treatments like ice or referring patients to a specialized medical professional for additional treatment as necessary.

Chiropractors often work solo or in a group practice. Many of these individuals are self-employed, opening their own practice or acting as a partner in a practice. A few work in hospitals or as part of a physician’s staff. The salary of a chiropractor will vary based on the popularity and success of the office where they work. Their work environment will also determine the type of hours they work. In many cases doctors work full time, but around a fourth of the industry reports that they work more than 50 hours each week to accommodate their patients.

In order to become a chiropractor, patients must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree or DC. This is a postgraduate program that will include four years of study in addition to the professional’s bachelor’s degree. During this time they will get two years of classroom study and two years of clinical experience where they will be given hands on training regarding diagnosis and spinal manipulation procedures. Once the DC has been earned, the chiropractor will need to become licensed. Each state has their own licensing program and procedures that must be adhered to. This typically includes a written exam as well as a practical evaluation. Many states also require that chiropractors continually update their education to maintain their license.

Chiropractor Average Salary

The average salary of a chiropractor is $67,200. There are several influences that will have an impact on how much a chiropractor can expect to earn throughout their career. One of the largest things to impact the chiropractor average salary is the location where the chiropractor practices. The type of medical office they work with will also have a large impact on the salary a chiropractor makes.

Chiropractor Salary Factors and Influences

Now that chiropractors are gaining ground as influential medical professionals, the areas where they can practice are expanding. There are a number of offices that work in conjunction with chiropractors to help treat their patients. Some of these connections can help the chiropractor earn a more competitive salary. The average salary of a chiropractor in the highest paying fields is:

Offices of Dentists Average Salary: $105,800

Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools Average Salary: $91,570

Employment Services Average Salary: $89,350

Offices of Physicians Average Salary: $87,190

Offices of Other Health Practitioners Average Salary: $78,380

The salaries in these professional settings are well over average, offering the chiropractor an opportunity to grow their business. Much of the influence here is that patients visiting a chiropractor in a dentist’s office or physician’s office will often be referred to a chiropractor by another medical professional. This will allow the chiropractor to act as a specialist, making it more likely that their work will be covered by the patient’s insurance. The average chiropractor salary for practices that work with major health insurance providers is often higher than those that do not.

Chiropractors that work in conjunction with other medical practices are also more likely to get a greater amount of patients. When patients are recommended to a chiropractor they are more likely to go than those unfamiliar with the practice. For the sake of comparison, note the salaries for the fields that are the most saturated with working chiropractors.

Offices of Other Health Practitioners Average Salary: $78,380

Offices of Physicians Average Salary: $87,190

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals Average Salary: $64,520

Outpatient Care Centers Average Salary: $66,190

As you can see, these salaries are somewhat lower, particularly in situations where the chiropractor would likely be drawing in patients on their own. Those working with a physician or other health practitioners are more competitive in the field. This trend continues when we note where chiropractors are more likely to earn a competitive wage. The salary for a chiropractor in the top paying nonmetropolitan areas provides excellent study of this.

West Kentucky Nonmetropolitan Area Average Salary: $121,760

Western Central North Carolina Nonmetropolitan Area Average Salary: $120,800

Southern Ohio Nonmetropolitan Area Average Salary: $120,510

East Central Pennsylvania Nonmetropolitan Average Salary: $114,170

Other Ohio Nonmetropolitan Areas Average Salary: $105,100

These areas are largely rural communities where people perform very physical jobs, making them more susceptible to back pain. This demand for the profession drives up the value of the salary a chiropractor can earn. In spite of this, note the difference when comparing these areas to the top paying metropolitan areas for chiropractors.

Anchorage, AK Average Salary: $209,960

Spokane, WA Average Salary: $192,770

Hartford, CT Average Salary: $144,250

Asheville, NC Average Salary: $141,840

St. Cloud, MN Average Salary: $141,390

Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH Average Salary: $141,170

As you can see, the salaries here are significantly higher. Chiropractors here will have a much easier time drawing in clients because of the larger populations in the area.

Chiropractor Salary Compared To Related Fields

The salary of a chiropractor is comparable to many other positions that provide physical therapy and pain treatment for patients.

Average Salary for a Chiropractor:$67,200

Average Salary for Athletic Trainers: $41,600

Average Salary for Occupational Therapists: $72,320

Average Salary for Physical Therapists: $76,310

Average Salary for Massage Therapists: $34,900

In general, medical professions that require more education will pay a higher salary. Chiropractors are not required to earn a medical degree, which is why their salaries are not as high as professions such as occupational or physical therapists who may have expanded their training to this level.

Chiropractor Salary by State

The chiropractor salary by state can be quite varied. To start our comparison, note the salaries in the highest paying states where chiropractors may be employed.

Chiropractor Salary in Alaska: $177,710

Chiropractor Salary in Ohio: $123,980

Chiropractor Salary in North Carolina: $116,390

Chiropractor Salary in Delaware: $103,850

Chiropractor Salary in Washington: $103,810

As you can see, these salaries are all well above average. They are also all in communities that are more likely to have people performing physical jobs that would cause damage to the spines or joints, increasing the demand for chiropractors. However, there are states that have higher employment levels for chiropractors. The salary of a chiropractor in these areas, however, is not nearly as competitive.

Average Salary in Florida: $81,140

Average Salary in California: $75,700

Average Salary in Illinois: $90,750

Average Salary in Texas: $61,470

Average Salary in Michigan: $69,530

These states tend to have high employment levels in many fields. The dense populations here increase the demand for professional care, particularly in medical fields. However, this also increases the competition for these individuals, causing the chiropractor average salary to lower. To further illustrate this point, note how salaries change in states with the highest concentrationof chiropractors.

Average Salary in South Dakota: $70,810

Average Salary in Oregon: $54,070

Average Salary in Montana: $59,060

Average Salary in Nebraska: $55,830

Average Salary in Michigan: $69,530

Once again, the salaries are much lower. These states, with the exception of Michigan, do not have high populations like those listed above. Therefore a high concentration of chiropractors in this smaller community will make for stiff competition.

Chiropractor Types of Salaries

Chiropractors are all generally classified under a single title. However, there are differences in the type of approach these chiropractors take on when they see patients. These varying techniques will determine how many visits a patient needs in order to address the issues they are having, or whether or not they feel it necessary to schedule regular visits. This treatment schedule will determine the average salary the chiropractor can expect to make.

Chiropractor- Symptom Relief: Average Salary:$78,780

Symptom relief chiropractors will focus on treating specific issues such as back pain. The chiropractor will perform specific manipulations that will free fixations, decompress the joints or generally reduce pain. They may also use techniques like electro stimulation, diathermy, ultrasound and others to treat specific symptoms based on the patient’s insurance and needs. In general, patients that see these chiropractors will require a shorter coverage time. Once specific issues have been addressed, the patient can determine if it is necessary to continue with regular visits.

Chiropractor- Traditional Care: Average Salary: $132,155

Traditional chiropractors focus on the subluxation and structural correction of the spine. They will work to realign the spine properly to take pressure of the nerves. They will focus all treatments on the maximum health of the spine, performing postural correction, preserving the integrity of the disks and helping to maintain the joints and nerves. The length this process will take will vary based on the severity of the issues the patient is experiencing. Many patients choose to get regular alignments or visit the chiropractor after major events like childbirth to get the corrections they need.

History of Chiropractors

The idea of performing chiropractic care dates back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Greece and China people would perform spinal manipulation techniques to help relieve lower back pain. Writings from 460 BC outline these techniques and the importance of good spine health. Chiropractic care did not gain popularity in the United States until the 19th century, with the first medical journals discussing the practice in 1895. The practice did not gain professional recognition in all 50 states until the 20th century.

Reports published in 1979 and 1993 began the discussion of the importance of chiropractic medicine in conjunction with traditional medical practice. These articles as well as private research have increased the curriculum necessary to become a professional chiropractor. Today it can take as many as 4200 hours of classroom study before an individual can begin working in the field. This is a huge difference compared to past generations that typically did not require any formal training. To further define the field, The Council on Chiropractic Education has been founded to set specific, nationwide requirements that can help students follow up on the educational requirements necessary to remain active in chiropractic care.

Chiropractor Salary Outlook – Conclusion

There are currently around 52,600 people working as chiropractors in the United States today. This is expected to grow to 67,400 by 2020, a 28 percent growth in the industry. General positions in health diagnosing and treatment are only expected to grow 26 percent in the same time frame, for comparison. All occupations in the United States are expected to grow by an average of 14 percent.

With the industry growing at nearly double the rate for the average industry, the average chiropractor salary is expected to remain steady as work will be readily available for those that are hoping to enter the field. Much of how the salaries for these positions will change will be determined by the number of patients the chiropractor will be able to take on.

In general, people are seeking out chiropractor care more often than they did in the past. This is seen as a more helpful means of treatment and is gaining more acceptance in the medical field. People in the United States are also having joint problems focusing on the neck, spine, limbs and joints that they did not previously. Much of this trouble is tied to the growing obesity epidemic. Those that are heavier are more likely to have excess pressure on their joints, causing musculoskeletal problems throughout the body. The growing elderly population is also seeking out chiropractic care with increased frequency. These groups are more likely to develop pain in the bones, particularly if they suffer from issues like arthritis.

While more people are seeking out chiropractic care, there are still limited resources to support this industry. Changes in thechiropractor average salary will largely be dependent on how this changes in the future. As chiropractors gain more respect in the medical industry, they are more likely to be covered by health insurance, which will increase the amount of patients seeking out these treatment plans. As these decisions about insurance coverage are decided in the upcoming years, much of the salary information for this industry will remain in flux.