Chiropractors

What Chiropractors Do

Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zfzbKIfBBA

Work Environment

Most chiropractors work in a solo or group chiropractic practice. A large number are self-employed.

How to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and get 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.

Pay

The median annual wage for chiropractors was $70,340 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as 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 to improve overall wellness. Chiropractic care is appealing to patients because chiropractors use nonsurgical methods of treatment and do not prescribe drugs.

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.

Duties

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.

Chiropractors held about 51,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of chiropractors were as follows:

Offices of chiropractors 63%
Self-employed workers 31
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

Most chiropractors work full time. 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.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of chiropractors.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Athletic Trainers

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

Bachelor’s degree $48,440

Massage Therapists

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,820

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

Master’s degree $84,950

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain.

Doctoral or professional degree $89,440

Physicians and surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses.

Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.

Podiatrists

Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems.

Doctoral or professional degree $126,240

Exercise Physiologists

Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help injured or sick patients recover.

Bachelor’s degree $49,170

Dentists

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth.

Doctoral or professional degree $159,200

Optometrists

Optometrists

Optometrists diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes.

Doctoral or professional degree $115,250

For more information on a career as a chiropractor, visit

American Chiropractic Association

International Chiropractors Association

Discover Chiropractic

For a list of chiropractic programs and institutions, as well as for general information on chiropractic education, visit

Association of Chiropractic Colleges

The Council on Chiropractic Education

For information on state education and licensure requirements, visit

Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards

For information about licensing exams, visit

National Board of Chiropractic Examiners

O*NET

Chiropractors


Suggested citation:

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