What Chiropractors Do
Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
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.
The median annual wage for chiropractors was $70,340 in May 2019.
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.
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%|
|Offices of physicians||3|
Chiropractors typically work in office settings. They may be on their feet for long periods when examining and treating patients.
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.
For more information on a career as a chiropractor, visit
For a list of chiropractic programs and institutions, as well as for general information on chiropractic education, visit
For information on state education and licensure requirements, visit
For information about licensing exams, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Chiropractors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/chiropractors.htm (visited ).