What is a Chiropractor?
The term chiropractic comes from a Greek work that means treatment by hand which is basically what a chiropractor does. A chiropractor is a health professional that focuses on manipulating your musculoskeletal system and body structures like this to help relieve your back pain, general body pain, and headache. Being a chiropractor there is no patient specification like other medical professionals who specialize in heart disease, gastro diseases, treating the elderly only, treating children only, etc. Basically when you choose this profession of being a chiropractor you specialize in the health problems of someone with arthritis, who has heart disease, who was injured in a wreck, a person who lifted too much or the wrong way, and more. If they are having problems or chronic pain in their musculoskeletal system, which can include their back, neck, or joints they would see a chiropractor to see if he can give them pain relief instead of taking stronger pain medications. Chiropractors use a holistic approach to healing your body.
Job Description of a Chiropractor
The main job of being a chiropractor is to adjust the skeletal and muscular system in order to maintain the normal functioning of your nervous system. A chiropractor would also do a physical examination along with taking their medical history. To see exactly what is causing your pain the chiropractor would take x-rays. If necessary they may order blood tests, stool analysis, and urine tests. The chiropractor will also examine your spine and your posture. After the chiropractor has all the diagnostic tests they will then figure out what is causing your pain and the correct treatment plan to use.
Once the chiropractor knows what the problem is and what treatment plan would work best for your problem they will share it with you so you will know what is going on. The chiropractor will start with manual therapy along with the physical therapy sessions that are best suited for you and the problems you are having. You will also be given guidelines for making modifications in your diet, any lifestyle changes you need to make along with stress management techniques. A chiropractor will do joint adjustments for your extremities and spine using specialized equipment or with their hands.
Some of the techniques a chiropractor can use include ultrasound acupuncture, musculoskeletal therapy, and massage therapy. A chiropractor can also help to relieve your chronic pain by treating the pain with support aids like braces, straps, shoe inserts, and tape. The two things that a chiropractor cannot do is surgery and prescribe medications.
How to Become a Chiropractor?
When making the career choice to be a chiropractor you will need to attend a chiropractic college for four years so you can be licensed to practice but before you can start on these four years there is other classes you need to take. Depending on the college you choose to attend some require you to have a post-secondary education while others require the completion of an undergraduate degree before you start chiropractic school which adds more years of schooling. Once you have completed your schooling you still need to pass state and national exams to get your license. Chiropractors will also have to take continuing education courses every year so they can keep their license.
At this time in the United States there are sixteen chiropractic programs that are recognized by the Council on Chiropractic Education. To be admitted to any of these programs you will have to have a minimum of ninety semester hours of undergraduate study and be working towards a bachelor’s degree. Some of the classes you will need to take include organic and inorganic chemistry, English, biology, psychology, humanities, social sciences, and physics. Eventually it may be a requirement that you have to have a bachelor’s degree to get into these programs. Some of the chiropractic colleges offer a bachelor’s degree program along with pre-chiropractic study.
Most of the chiropractic programs require at least four thousand two hundred hours of combined laboratory, clinical, and classroom experience. During the first two years many of these chiropractic programs place a lot of importance on classroom work in sciences like pathology, anatomy, microbiology, etc along with laboratory experience. The last two years in this program concentrate on classes in spinal adjustment and manipulation and clinical experience in physical diagnoses in neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, physiotherapy, along with laboratory experience. Chiropractic colleges may also offer postdoctoral training in radiology, applied chiropractic science, sports injuries, and more. When you graduate you will have a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. The total amount of extra school years you will have after graduating from high school will be between seven and eight years. When you become a licensed chiropractor you will be restricted to practicing in the state where you obtained your license because each state has their own requirements that must be met to become licensed.
Some of the top chiropractic colleges in the United States include:
- Texas Chiropractic College
- Southern California University of Health Science
- Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City
- Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic
- New York Chiropractic College
- University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic
Work Environment and Schedule
When you are working as a chiropractor you must be able to retain good health and stamina because you will be standing most of your workday which can be a variety of hours. Most time it is not always eight hours a day or forty hours a week. It could be ten hours, even twelve hours a day. Most chiropractors either have their own practice or are one of several chiropractors in an office. Being a chiropractor means that a few days during the week you should offer evening hours so people who work can visit your office to get the help they need without having to take off work. Some chiropractors even offer Saturday hours. If you do not offer a couple of days with evening hours it can cost you business. If you are opening your own practice it may take several months to get your scheduled figured out that will be best for you and the patients you have. You also need to have “people skills” and know how to talk to patients so they trust you. You also need to have patience because some patients you get may be hypochondriacs and do not really have anything wrong with them but think they do and want medical attention.
Some of the things that will take up a chiropractor’s day can include:
- Planning and discussing the right treatment plan with the patient so they know what is going to happen, how long they will need to come to office, when they might start to feel better, and answer any questions they might have.
- Counseling them on any rehabilitation exercises they might have to do at home and how to do them safely and correctly.
- Doing the treatment on the patients using their hands or specialized equipment. Since chiropractors used their hands a lot for manual therapy they need to take care of them and do exercises to keep them strong.
- A chiropractor will also need to write in the patient’s chart the treatment plan, how many days of the week they need to have the treatment, how the patient is doing after each treatment, any changes they need to make to the treatment plan. A chiropractor also needs to make sure that they are keeping confidential records for the privacy of the patients.
- Doing referrals to another physician if they need specific medical treatments that they do
When you become a chiropractor you can also work in the educational system as a teacher to incoming students who want to be a chiropractor, working in research centers, or in clinics and hospitals.
Pros and cons of being a chiropractor
Working as a chiropractor you must consider having an independent situation and being able to do at the same time many projects, this can sometimes be challenging if you don’t have a really well-prepared agenda. With other words, it is like opening a full-time business agenda where you’ll need dedication and hard work.
Another con is that in order to have a well-known business as a chiropractic sometimes you must face negative attitudes from other people, doubt or some huge level of people being rude with you. It won’t be effortless, since you’ll have to make your personal presentations, and public meetings just to persuade the people about your passion for chiropractic.
The main issue appears after you’ve graduated from college when you will have a debt to pay and after that it is quite probable that you’ll have to take a business loan just to start your practice. Taking more responsibility, due to the earlier mentioned issues, won’t be easy since there are many banks that won’t work with you. The best scenario is to lower your expectations and have the patience to look up for a bank that will work with you.
Every business has its downs as well. Many chiropractors have the so-called cash practice this involving taking cash directly from their patients instead of taking from an insurance company. Why? It’s quite simple many of this insurance companies, or other HMO organizations won’t cover for the chiropractic field and care. With other words, you’re limited in the ability of collecting money.
Before you start having second feelings about what this career opportunity might offer, you let’s take a look at the pros. The education requirements are not as long as for becoming a doctor. If your dream is to become a chiropractor then you’ll need a three-year chiropractic college where the study is quite rigorous. You’ll also need a bachelor’s degree. You need a degree before the chiropractic school program, or after you’ve completed. In any of the scenarios, you should check out the necessary type of state licensing and all requirements linked to it.
Compared with other careers from the health care system you’ll get the opportunity to have a usual work hour program consisting of a regular schedule from 9am to 5pm. The opportunities for someone calling you at 1am or 2am are very rare.
Another great pro is that your malpractice insurance compared to other professions in the healthcare system is lower not to mention that your license process is not that long, and is painless. You’ll help those who are in need and are in despair for a better aid.
Chiropractor Job Growth
If you are to take a look at the chiropractor job growth, you’ll find out that in this field the percentage is quite good being settle at 14% and even a little bit higher for the next ten years or so. You also have the opportunity to choose a specialization such as nutrition, diagnostic imaging or neurology. The bad message, on the other hand, is the fact that compared with other careers in the medicine, the job availability in this field is estimated to be lower than the average.
The job prospect in this field is very good since more and more individuals from all various age groups are starting to take a look at the chiropractic care that is usually implemented by using nonsurgical solutions and methods of treatment and no prescription of drugs.
Working as a chiropractor will also bring high employment areas due to the number of demanding that are constant growing. You can consider that the largest employers for these specialists are chiropractors offices and chiropractors clinics.
If we are to take a look at the economic level many of the chiropractors are self-employed, while less than a quarter whether have a partner or they are working in a group practice. The highest levels of hiring can be found in states such as Florida, Texas, California and other.
In the United States, New Jersey has the highest yearly salary at $151,000 and Montana has the lowest yearly salary at $101,000. In 2010 the average the yearly salary was approximately $67,000 but by May 2014 the average yearly salary had risen to $104,000. If you own your own practice you will be at the higher end of the pay scale but it may takes several years to get your practice off the ground. Most chiropractors who work in clinics or a hospital or as part of a group of chiropractors are salaried workers which means they get paid per hour which can average over thirty dollars an hour.
In addition to the chiropractor salary if you are working as part of a group of chiropractors, in a hospital, clinic, or teaching you will also receive a benefit package that can include vacation pay, sick days, personal days, 401K, retirement, commissions, profit sharing, yearly bonuses etc. What exactly would be in your benefit package would depend on where you work.
The geographic location also plays a part in how much you would make a year. For the bigger cities you would make more than if you were in a rural area with a population of less than two thousand. Before you can start to make money you need to decide on where you are going to work. You also need to look at more than just the salary but also at the benefit package you are being offered if going to work in a group practice, hospital, clinic, or teaching. One thing to note is that the longer you have been practicing the more money you will be making. For example if you have more than twenty years experience, depending on where you are working or if you have your own practice, on average you would be making between forty-eight thousand eighty-one dollars and one hundred forty-six thousand eight hundred and nine dollars each year. According to statistics it has found that most chiropractors who have worked in this field for twenty years or more make a change. If they are working for a group of chiropractors, working in a hospital or clinic they will go onto teaching new chiropractors or just retire.
Salary of a chiropractor in 2015
The median average salary estimate for a chiropractor is at $67,010 per year, but a professional can either earn more or less. The above estimation is being made according to each state, the geographical location, and the work possibilities. You should know that owning your own business or being a partner with someone can lead to a substantial growth in the salary of a chiropractor. You could go up to an earning that can reach $142,910 per year.
The figures for a chiropractor salary in 2015 are announcing to be good. The salaries increase because there is more public knowledge about what this job implies. Many people already see and understand the importance of a certified chiropractor for any of their untreated back or neck problems.
Chiropractor Salary in 2016
In the United States, the income of a chiropractor for the year 2016 is influenced by several major factor that impact the earnings. You will find out that for someone that works with the title of chiropractor the incomes are impacted by the level of education, the years of experience in the field, the industry size, the geographic location, and other.
The income is also estimated based on the percentage of the hours that you work, and it will fluctuate also based upon the economy and the insurance reimbursement rates. The median income that can be found according to some surveys is estimated to be around $57,719 per year or even a little bit higher according to other surveys.
The salary for a starting chiropractor in the United States is estimated to be at around $34,120 per year, and it can reach a higher point of $103,346 per year. The reward that is granted can reach up to $19,908 per year while the profit sharing can start from $972. When it comes to commission the earning that is granted will range between $1,217 per year and up to $56,869 per year.
There is also a difference between those that are self-employed and those that are working in a group practice or somewhere else. The good news for those who own their own practice is the fact that they can get to make their own schedule, and they are not be bound to a pager or be called on for medical emergencies are awkward hours of the night.
As a chiropractor, your earnings will also vary if you are working in a bigger city, in a rural or urban area or a metropolitan area or not. The figures are also estimated taking into consideration the cost of living in various states and regions, and also according to the lowest and the highest points that are to be found.
Chiropractor Salary in Canada, Australia and United Kingdom
If you are opening your practice or going to work in a practice in Australia, Canada or the UK the salary is going to be much different.
- Canada—on average if you work in Canada you can expect a yearly salary between CAD$34,905 to CAD$124,000. They also get a yearly bonus of around CAD$9,800.
- Australia—on average if you work in Australia you can expect a yearly salary of AU$41,000 to AU$100,000. There is also a yearly bonus of approximately AU$30,000.
- UK—on average if you work in the United Kingdom you can expect a yearly salary between £12,500 and £82,000. There is also a yearly bonus of approximately £34,000. Also in the UK a chiropractor’s salary is based on their age. If they are in their twenties they can earn up to £33,000 a year. In their thirties they can earn up to £45,000 a year. In their forties and fifties they can earn up to £51,000 a year.
Conclusion on Chiropractor Salary
On average going to college to become a chiropractor can cost over one hundred thousand dollars which can seem like a lot especially if the starting salary is less than seventy-five thousand dollars a year to start. If you are going to start your own practice you will also have various other expenses such as rent for your practice, salaries for the nurses, receptionist, etc, utilities, advertising your new practice, equipment, etc. Once you are established and gain experience the yearly salary will be more. Comparing the salary in the United States with the salary in Canada, Australia, and the UK, you can see that it is much more. If you want to be a chiropractor then it would be best if you worked in the United States. It is a growing field and being a chiropractor appears to be a secure job now and in the future.
- First Published Date: 13 May, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 10 June, 2016