How to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractor
Chiropractor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$81,240
Avg. Pay / hour$39.06
Education4+ Years
Outlook7%

When you become a chiropractor you can look forward to a career helping people correct their health problems and enjoy a better quality of life.

Chiropractic health is a form of natural therapy, chiropractors believe that many illnesses, aches, and pains are directly connected to the musculoskeletal system.

By correcting the imbalances that are found in the muscles and spine, they can improve health and relieve pain.

People see a chiropractor for many reasons, the most common cause is back pain.

A chiropractor will treat other illnesses as well, for instance headaches and migraines, immune system responses like allergies, and body movement.

A chiropractor will meet with clients, usually form a consulting room or clinic.

They will spend some time talking about the client’s illnesses or pains, as well as looking into their lifestyle and exercise routine.

After these they may perform an adjustment of the spine or surrounding bones and muscles.

This is the moment when you hear the loud crunch that chiropractors are famous for.

They may also use techniques like tapping or massage to help the body gain readjustment.

Clients may visit a chiropractor regularly, or only come a few times if their problems are minor.

It is also an important part of a chiropractors role to make recommendations for lifestyle changes.

Most will encourage their clients to drink plenty of water, increase their core strength, and get plenty of exercise to help keep the spine in good repair.

Education Requirements to Become a Chiropractor

The educational path to become a chiropractor is a long one.

To begin with, you’ll need to undergo a four year undergraduate degree.

The best degree to choose is one that is focused on pre-medicine.

This will give you the understanding of anatomy and biology needed to peruse further study in chiropractic health.

After you have completed an undergraduate degree, you will need to move on to complete a post graduate degree at an approved chiropractic school, where you will spend another four years.

The first two years will be spent learning theory in classroom, and the second two will include more practical work experience, always under the supervision of a qualified chiropractor.

There are only a limited amount of schools that are approved by the Chiropractic Council of Education, or CSE, so you may need to live away from home, or move interstate to obtain your degree.

In most states, you will be required to complete 4200 hours of educational work, made up of classroom work, home study, and practical work experience.

You will then required to pass a three part test prescribed by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners before you can start practicing.

This test is a mix of theory and practical knowledge.

Chiropractor Job Description

A chiropractor will spend most of their time working one on one with clients in a clinic.

Some may work in small groups employed by other doctors, in hospitals, or in larger health centers.

For the most part, chiropractors are self-employed.

While a chiropractor spends most of their time working with patients, they also have other duties, like record keeping and administrative tasks.

If you are self-employed you will need to spend time promoting your services.

Here are some of the duties you might be responsible for as a chiropractor:

  • Reviewing clients spinal alignment
  • Adjustments to musculoskeletal alignment
  • Tapping
  • Analyzing client’s lifestyle
  • Giving advice on nutrition and exercise
  • Massage
  • Maintaining thorough records of client’s treatment
  • Communicating with clients and other staff members
  • Marketing and business development

Chiropractor Salary and Career Path

After completing their education, most chiropractors will start out working for someone else, either within a clinic or in a hospital.

Over time they may take on a more senior position, or more commonly, start their own practice.

Some chiropractors may move on to managerial positions within clinics, or become teachers within the industry.

The starting salary for a chiropractor is around $45,000 a year.

After a few years of work experience you could expect to earn closer to the median salary of $85,000 a year.

The top earning chiropractors will earn $150,000+ per year.

If you’re interested in health and science, and are also looking for a role where you get to spend a good amount of time working with people, then a career as a chiropractor might be right for you.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$81,240
$37K
$50K
$81K
$98K
$128K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$80,120
Alaska$83,450
Arizona$71,900
Arkansas$72,000
California$82,820
Colorado$75,670
Connecticut$116,340
Delaware$88,880
Florida$79,210
Georgia$57,220
Hawaii$65,930
Idaho$81,520
Illinois$78,260
Indiana$84,210
Iowa$60,540
Kansas$73,440
Kentucky$72,930
Louisiana$86,030
Maine$71,580
Maryland$79,290
Massachusetts$100,120
Michigan$79,860
Minnesota$83,600
Mississippi$78,410
Missouri$88,030
Montana$53,070
Nebraska$81,210
Nevada$112,420
New Hampshire$90,540
New Jersey$113,220
New Mexico$63,440
New York$97,380
North Carolina$82,520
North Dakota$91,080
Ohio$89,030
Oklahoma$75,770
Oregon$89,510
Pennsylvania$73,070
Rhode Island$91,480
South Carolina$70,830
South Dakota$75,710
Tennessee$70,760
Texas$84,500
Utah$70,190
Vermont$78,080
Virginia$85,210
Washington$93,120
West Virginia$95,640
Wisconsin$88,090
Wyoming$96,110
Puerto Rico$65,130

The top earning state in the field is Connecticut, where the average salary is $116,340.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Connecticut - $116,340
New Jersey - $113,220
Nevada - $112,420
Massachusetts - $100,120
New York - $97,380
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Chiropractors, OCC Code 29-1011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a practitioner of complementary medicine focused on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Chiropractors usually treat disorders through manual adjustments and manipulations of the spine.

They typically assess the patient’s medical condition by reviewing his or her medical history and through a physical exam.

Chiropractors provide therapy and give additional treatments, such as applying heat or cold to the injured areas.

They may also advise patients on health and lifestyle, such as exercise and nutrition.

Some also use massage therapy, rehabilitative exercise and ultrasound to treat neuromuscular diseases.

Chiropractors complete many years of study before being ready to practice.

How much does a chiropractor make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for chiropractors was $71,410 as of May 2018.

How much a chiropractor makes depends on a variety of factors, including his or her experience, employer and the region of practice.

Some make less than $35,000 a year, while others make more than $140,000.

How much does it cost to become a chiropractor?

Chiropractors need a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license.

A four-year chiropractic education school costs, on average, around $120,000.

Before enrolling at a chiropractic school you must complete an undergraduate program at a college and some D.C. schools also require a bachelor’s degree.

A college program can cost anywhere between $3,000 and more than $30,000 a year, depending on the school and the program itself.

In order to become a licensed chiropractor, you will need a state license, which means that you will have to pass a four-part National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam.

The examination fee is $2,055 for the first three parts ($685 each); part 4 costs $1,535.

What is the demand for chiropractors?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of chiropractors is expected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028.

This growth is explained, in part, by the fact that people become more interested in complementary healthcare.

The demand for chiropractic treatments is also related to the ability of patients to pay.

Most health care insurance plans cover chiropractic services, but the extent of the coverage varies from plan to plan.

How long does it take to become a chiropractor?

Chiropractors need a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license.

D.C. schools usually can be completed in around 4 years, but in order to enroll at a chiropractic school, you will need an undergraduate degree, which usually takes at least 3 years to complete.

Some D.C. schools also require a bachelor’s degree.

After getting your Doctor of Chiropractic degree you will need to get licensed in order to practice.

This means that you will also have to pass a four-part exam.

Many states require chiropractors to pass a background check and a state-specific law exam.

Some chiropractors also complete postgraduate programs in order to extend their expertise.

Jamie Willis