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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zfzbKIfBBA.
Quick Facts: Chiropractors
2021 Median Pay $75,000 per year
$36.06 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 53,200
Job Outlook, 2021-31 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 5,500

What Chiropractors Do

Chiropractors evaluate and treat patients' neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Work Environment

Most chiropractors work in a solo or group chiropractic practice. Some are self-employed. Chiropractors usually work full time, but part-time work is common.

How to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors typically need a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Completing a D.C. program typically takes about 4 years, in addition to at least 3 years of undergraduate study. Every state requires chiropractors to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for chiropractors was $75,000 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 2,100 openings for chiropractors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for chiropractors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of chiropractors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about chiropractors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Chiropractors Do About this section

Chiropractors
Chiropractors perform manual therapy to help patients with back and neck pain.

Chiropractors evaluate and treat patients' 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:

  • Review a patient's medical history and listen to their concerns
  • Perform a physical examination to analyze the patient's posture, spine, and reflexes
  • Provide neuromusculoskeletal therapy, which 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 and nutrition
  • Refer patients to other healthcare professionals if needed

Chiropractors treat a variety of problems related to the neuromusculoskeletal system. They focus on pain in the back, neck, and joints and how relieving this pain can improve patients’ overall health. The goal is to improve the body’s motion and function.

In diagnosing a patient's condition, chiropractors often use both external and internal assessments. For example, a chiropractor may observe the patient's range of motion related to shoulder pain and then follow up with x rays to provide more detailed information.

Some chiropractors treat patients using procedures such as massage therapy, rehabilitative exercise, and electrical muscle stimulation in addition to spinal adjustments and manipulation. They also may apply supports, such as braces or tape, to treat patients and relieve pain.

In addition to operating a general chiropractic practice, chiropractors may specialize in areas such as sports, neurology, or nutrition. Chiropractors who are self-employed or work in private practice may have additional responsibilities that include marketing their business, hiring staff, and keeping records.

Work Environment About this section

chiropractors image
Chiropractors typically work in office settings.

Chiropractors held about 53,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of chiropractors were as follows:

Offices of chiropractors 64%
Self-employed workers 31
Offices of physicians 2

Chiropractors typically work in office settings. They may need to stand for long periods and lift or turn patients.

Work Schedules

Most chiropractors work full time, but part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary and include evenings or weekends to accommodate patients. Self-employed chiropractors may have the flexibility to set their own hours.

How to Become a Chiropractor About this section

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

Chiropractors typically need a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Completing a D.C. program typically takes about 4 years, in addition to at least 3 years of undergraduate study. Every state requires chiropractors to be licensed.

Education

Chiropractors must have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited chiropractic college. A D.C. degree usually takes years to complete. Chiropractic colleges are accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education.

Admission to D.C. programs requires at least 3 years of undergraduate education, although applicants commonly have a bachelor’s degree. Typical bachelor’s degrees for prospective D.C. students include biologyhealthcare and related fields, or kinesiology, exercise physiology, or other subjects focusing on physical movement. Chiropractic programs generally require applicants to have completed coursework in sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology, as well as general education studies.

A D.C. program includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, biology, and similar subjects. Courses in business management, such as marketing and finance, also may be included. Chiropractic students gain supervised clinical experience in areas such as diagnosis, spinal assessment, and adjustment techniques. D.C. programs may offer a dual-degree option, in which students earn either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in another field while completing their D.C.

Some chiropractors complete postgraduate programs that lead to diplomate credentials. These programs provide additional training in specialty areas, such as orthopedics, acupuncture, and pediatrics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require chiropractors to be licensed, although requirements vary by state. At a minimum, all require the completion of an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program and passing all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam. States also may require candidates to pass a background check and state-specific law exams, called jurisprudence exams.

All states require practicing chiropractors to earn a specified number of hours of continuing education credits to maintain a chiropractic license. Contact your state’s board of chiropractic examiners or health department for more specific information about licensure.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Chiropractors must listen to patients and explain procedures clearly both orally and in written reports.

Decision-making skills. Chiropractors must evaluate each patient’s needs and recommend treatment based on those needs. They must also decide when to refer patients to other healthcare professionals.

Detail oriented. Chiropractors must pay attention when diagnosing and treating patients to avoid mistakes that could harm them.

Dexterity. Chiropractors must have good coordination when performing manual adjustments to a patient's spine and other joints.

Empathy. Chiropractors often care for people who are in pain. They must be understanding and sympathetic to their patients’ problems and needs.

Interpersonal skills. Chiropractors must be personable in order to put patients at ease and expand their practice.

Pay About this section

Chiropractors

Median annual wages, May 2021

Healthcare diagnosing or treating practitioners

$81,270

Chiropractors

$75,000

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for chiropractors was $75,000 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,400, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $128,750.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for chiropractors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Offices of physicians $79,810
Offices of chiropractors 73,990

Wage data do not cover self-employed workers or owners and partners of unincorporated businesses.

Earnings vary with the chiropractor’s number of years in practice, geographic region of practice, and hours worked. Chiropractors tend to earn more as they build a client base and become owners of, or partners in, a practice.

Most chiropractors work full time, but part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary and include evenings or weekends to accommodate patients. Self-employed chiropractors may have the flexibility to set their own hours.

Job Outlook About this section

Chiropractors

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Chiropractors

10%

Healthcare diagnosing or treating practitioners

9%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 2,100 openings for chiropractors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Demand is expected to increase for chiropractic services as a nonsurgical, drug-free way to treat pain and improve overall wellness. Rising interest in integrative or complementary healthcare has led to more acceptance of chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, limbs, and involved joints. As a result, chiropractors are increasingly working with other healthcare workers, such as physicians and physical therapists, through referrals and complementary care.

Opportunities for chiropractors also will be created by the continued aging of the large baby-boom generation. Older adults are more likely than younger people to have neuromusculoskeletal and joint problems, and they will continue to seek treatment for these conditions as they lead longer, more active lives.

Employment projections data for chiropractors, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Chiropractors

29-1011 53,200 58,700 10 5,500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Athletic trainers Athletic Trainers

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

Master's degree $48,420
Massage therapists Massage Therapists

Massage therapists treat clients by applying pressure to manipulate the body's soft tissues and joints.

Postsecondary nondegree award $46,910
Occupational therapists Occupational Therapists

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

Master's degree $85,570
Physical therapists Physical Therapists

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

Doctoral or professional degree $95,620
Physicians and surgeons Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and address health maintenance.

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

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

Doctoral or professional degree $145,840
Exercise Physiologists

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

Bachelor's degree $47,940
Dentists Dentists

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

Doctoral or professional degree $163,220
Optometrists Optometrists

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

Doctoral or professional degree $124,300

Contacts for More Information About this section

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

CareerOneStop

For a career video on chiropractors, visit

Chiropractors

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 December 07, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Friday, November 4, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.