Earnings are relatively low in the beginning, but increase
as the practice grows.
Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic
or chiropractic physicians, diagnose and treat patients
whose health problems are associated with the bodyís muscular,
nervous, and skeletal systems, especially the spine. Chiropractors
believe that interference with these systems impairs the bodyís
normal functions and lowers its resistance to disease. They
also hold that spinal or vertebral dysfunction alters many
important body functions by affecting the nervous system and
that skeletal imbalance through joint or articular dysfunction,
especially in the spine, can cause pain.
The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic, stressing
the patientís overall health and wellness. It recognizes that
many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest,
environment, and heredity. Chiropractors provide natural,
drugless, nonsurgical health treatments and rely on the bodyís
inherent recuperative abilities. They also recommend changes
in lifestyleóin eating, exercise, and sleeping habits, for
exampleóto their patients. When appropriate, chiropractors
consult with and refer patients to other health practitioners.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard
routine to secure the information they need for diagnosis
and treatment. They take the patientís medical history; conduct
physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations; and may
order laboratory tests. X rays and other diagnostic images
are important tools because of the chiropractorís emphasis
on the spine and its proper function. Chiropractors also employ
a postural and spinal analysis common to chiropractic diagnosis.
In cases in which difficulties can be traced to the involvement
of musculoskeletal structures, chiropractors manually adjust
the spinal column. Some chiropractors use water, light, massage,
ultrasound, electric, acupuncture, and heat therapy. They
also may apply supports such as straps, tapes, and braces.
Chiropractors counsel patients about wellness concepts such
as nutrition, exercise, changes in lifestyle, and stress management,
but do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery.
Some chiropractors specialize in sports injuries, neurology,
orthopedics, pediatrics, nutrition, internal disorders, or
Many chiropractors are solo or group practitioners who also
have the administrative responsibilities of running a practice.
In larger offices, chiropractors delegate these tasks to office
managers and chiropractic assistants. Chiropractors in private
practice are responsible for developing a patient base, hiring
employees, and keeping records.
Chiropractors work in clean, comfortable offices. Their average
workweek is about 40 hours, although longer hours are not
uncommon. Solo practitioners set their own hours, but may
work evenings or weekends to accommodate patients.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors are sometimes
on their feet for long periods. Chiropractors who take x rays
must employ appropriate precautions against the dangers of
repeated exposure to radiation.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
All States and the District of Columbia regulate the practice
of chiropractic and grant licenses to chiropractors who meet
the educational and examination requirements established by
the State. Chiropractors can practice only in States where
they are licensed. Some States have agreements permitting
chiropractors licensed in one State to obtain a license in
another without further examination, provided that their educational,
examination, and practice credentials meet State specifications.
Most State boards require at least 2 years of undergraduate
education; an increasing number are requiring a 4-year bachelorís
degree. All boards require the completion of a 4-year program
at an accredited chiropractic college leading to the Doctor
of Chiropractic degree.
For licensure, most State boards recognize either all or
part of the four-part test administered by the National Board
of Chiropractic Examiners. State examinations may supplement
the National Board tests, depending on State requirements.
All States except New Jersey require the completion of a specified
number of hours of continuing education each year in order
to maintain licensure. Chiropractic associations and accredited
chiropractic programs and institutions offer continuing education
In 2005, 15 chiropractic programs and 2 chiropractic institutions
in the United States were accredited by the Council on Chiropractic
Education. Applicants are required to have at least 90 semester
hours of undergraduate study leading toward a bachelorís degree,
including courses in English, the social sciences or humanities,
organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology.
Many applicants have a bachelorís degree, which may eventually
become the minimum entry requirement. Several chiropractic
colleges offer prechiropractic study, as well as a bachelorís
degree program. Recognition of prechiropractic education offered
by chiropractic colleges varies among the State boards.
Chiropractic programs require a minimum of 4,200 hours of
combined classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience. During
the first 2 years, most chiropractic programs emphasize classroom
and laboratory work in basic science subjects such as anatomy,
physiology, public health, microbiology, pathology, and biochemistry.
The last 2 years stress courses in manipulation and spinal
adjustment and provide clinical experience in physical and
laboratory diagnosis, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics,
physiotherapy, and nutrition. Chiropractic programs and institutions
grant the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic.
Chiropractic colleges also offer Postdoctoral training in
orthopedics, neurology, sports injuries, nutrition, rehabilitation,
radiology, industrial consulting, family practice, pediatrics,
and applied chiropractic sciences. Once such training is complete,
chiropractors may take specialty exams leading to ďdiplomateĒ
status in a given specialty. Exams are administered by specialty
Chiropractic requires keen observation to detect physical
abnormalities. It also takes considerable manual dexterity,
but not unusual strength or endurance, to perform adjustments.
Chiropractors should be able to work independently and handle
responsibility. As in other health-related occupations, empathy,
understanding, and the desire to help others are good qualities
for dealing effectively with patients.
Newly licensed chiropractors can set up a new practice, purchase
an established one, or enter into partnership with an established
practitioner. They also may take a salaried position with
an established chiropractor, a group practice, or a health
Chiropractors held about 53,000 jobs in 2004. Approximately
58 percent of chiropractors are self-employed. Most chiropractors
are in solo practice, although some are in group practice
or work for other chiropractors. A small number teach, conduct
research at chiropractic institutions, or work in hospitals
Many chiropractors are located in small communities. However,
there still often are geographic imbalances in the distribution
of chiropractors, in part because many establish practices
close to one of the few chiropractic institutions.
Job prospects are expected to be good for persons who enter
the practice of chiropractic. Employment of chiropractors
is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations
through the year 2014 as consumer demand for alternative health
care grows. Because chiropractors emphasize the importance
of healthy lifestyles and do not prescribe drugs or perform
surgery, chiropractic care is appealing to many health-conscious
Americans. Chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, extremities,
and joints has become more accepted as a result of research
and changing attitudes about alternative, noninvasive health
care practices. The rapidly expanding older population, with
its increased likelihood of mechanical and structural problems,
also will increase demand for chiropractors.
Demand for chiropractic treatment, however, is related as
well to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or
through health insurance. Although more insurance plans now
cover chiropractic services, the extent of such coverage varies
among plans. Increasingly, chiropractors must educate communities
about the benefits of chiropractic care in order to establish
a successful practice.
In this occupation, replacement needs arise almost entirely
from retirements. Chiropractors usually remain in the occupation
until they retire; few transfer to other occupations. Establishing
a new practice will be easiest in areas with a low concentration
Median annual earnings of salaried chiropractors were $69,910
in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $46,710
and $118,280 a year.
In 2005, the mean salary for chiropractors was $104,363,
according to a survey conducted by Chiropractic Economics
In chiropractic, as in other types of independent practice,
earnings are relatively low in the beginning and increase
as the practice grows. Geographic location and the characteristics
and qualifications of the practitioner also may influence
earnings. Self-employed chiropractors must provide their own
health insurance and retirement.
Chiropractors treat patients and work to prevent bodily disorders
and injuries. So do athletic trainers, massage therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians
and surgeons, podiatrists, and veterinarians.
|Sources of Additional Information
General information on a career as a chiropractor is available
from the following organizations:
For a list of chiropractic programs and institutions, as
well as general information on chiropractic education, contact:
- Council on Chiropractic Education, 8049 North 85th Way,
Scottsdale, AZ 85258-4321. Internet: http://www.cce-usa.org/
For information on State education and licensure requirements,
- Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards, 5401 W. 10th
St., Suite 101, Greeley, CO 80634-4400. Internet: http://www.fclb.org/
For more information on the national chiropractic licensing
- National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 901 54th Ave.,
Suite 101, Greeley, CO 80634-4400. Internet: http://www.nbce.org/
Source: Bureau of
Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition,