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Chiropractor Job Description, Career as a Chiropractor, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

chiropractors chiropractic patients body

Education and Training: Advanced degree and license

Salary: Median—$69,910 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Chiropractors are alternative health care practitioners who diagnose and treat health problems associated with the muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems. Chiropractic philosophy holds that interference with these systems impairs the body's normal functions and lowers its resistance to disease. A main tenet of chiropractic philosophy is that dysfunction of the spine (the nerve cord that runs down the back) or vertebral column (the bones that surround that cord) alters many important body functions. In addition, skeletal "imbalance," especially in the vertebral column, can cause pain.

Chiropracters treat patients primarily by manipulating parts of the body, especially the spinal column. By means of this manipulation, chiropractors try to correct any disorders of the skeleton or spine that may interrupt the flow of nerve impulses to various parts of the body. They do not use drugs or surgery to treat patients.

Chiropractors use a variety of methods to learn about a patient's condition. They ask the patient questions and examine the patient carefully, determining whether body structures are out of place. They often use X-rays to get a picture of the patient's bone structure. In addition, chiropractors use laboratory tests, such as urinalysis or blood tests, as well as instruments, such as stethoscopes, to diagnose Chiropractors treat patients by manipulating parts of the body. They also treat patients with light, heat, cold, water, exercise, or other forms of physical therapy. (Photograph by Kelly A. Quin. Thomson Gale. Reproduced by permission.) disorders. However, some patients need drugs, surgery, psychiatry, and other types of treatment that chiropractors do not provide. Chiropractors refer these patients to physicians.

In addition to performing manipulations, chiropractors treat patients with light, heat, cold, water, exercise, or other forms of physical therapy. In addition, chiropractors often advise their patients about diet and mental outlook to help promote good health.

Most chiropractors have private practices or share practice ownership with other chiropractors. Some teach chiropractic or do research in hospitals, clinics, health agencies, or private industry. Many chiropractors specialize in areas such as athletic injuries, diseases of children and women, and X-ray diagnoses.

Education and Training Requirements

Students usually need two years of college before they can enroll in a chiropractic college, but some states and schools require four years. They should take courses in science and other subjects required by the chiropractic college that they want to attend. After completing a four-year program in a chiropractic college, graduates receive a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degree. All states require that chiropractors be licensed. Requirements vary, however, from state to state. In all states chiropractors must pass a state board examination. In some states they must also pass a test in basic science.

Getting the Job

Nearly all newly licensed chiropractors enter private practice. Some of them open their own offices right away. Others buy an established practice from a chiropractor who is retiring. Still others join the office of a practicing chiropractor to get experience. Chiropractic colleges can provide information about setting up a practice.

Some chiropractors have salaried jobs in clinics, chiropractic colleges, or private industry. Job openings of this kind can be found through the want ads of newspapers, Internet job banks, or in professional publications.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Chiropractors usually advance by building their practices. The degree of their success depends on their skill and location as well as other factors. Some chiropractors advance by moving into high-level jobs in teaching, research, or administration.

The employment outlook is expected to grow faster than the average through the year 2014 due to growing use of chiropractic services. Demand for chiropractors is related to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or through health insurance, and to public acceptance of the profession, which is growing. However, more people are going into this field. There may be competition for jobs in some geographical areas.

Working Conditions

Chiropractors usually work in pleasant offices. If they are in private practice, they can set their own hours. To be successful, they need to have a good business sense and self-discipline. They should be able to work with all kinds of people. Chiropractors must also be able to work well with their hands.

Where to Go for More Information

American Chiropractic Association
1701 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22209
(800) 986-4636

International Chiropractors Association
1110 N. Glebe Rd., Ste. 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(800) 423-4690

Earnings and Benefits

The earnings of chiropractors vary greatly. The median annual salary was $69,910 in 2004. Since chiropractors are usually self-employed, they must provide their own benefits, such as pension funds and insurance policies.

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about 7 years ago

Hi, im 17, Junoir at West Albany Highschool and I am doing a project about being a chiropractor and I would have to say there is a lot of usefull information on here then a lot of other websites and I would like to say thankyou.

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almost 7 years ago

Hello, my name is Vinnie, Im a 17 year old senior at Penn Trafford High school near Pittsburgh PA. I am doing my senior research paper, and planning on attending the University of pittsburgh to study pre-chiropractic. This article has been very helpful, understanding everything i need to know about making my choice to pursue this career choice. It has also been helpful with finding information to use in my paper and presentation. Thank you very much.

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over 8 years ago

My chiropractor is absolutely AMAZING!!! I found his business card on the floor of the lobby of the place I work. So, he was right around the corner, so, I had no problem going to find out about chiropractors. I grew up with both parents as RN's, so, they said they(chiropractors) were no good. I discovered they were UNBELIEVABLE!!! I tell EVERYONE how GOOD they are.

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almost 6 years ago


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about 3 years ago

hi i am 76 years old i am knew 2 the intertwebs i am not sure how 2 use teh keybored verry well i hope u chiropracters hav a neato day
i am also a chiropracter 2 by!

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about 3 years ago


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over 5 years ago

Thank you so much more this information. This is AWESOME.!!!

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almost 6 years ago

I would recommend getting your bachelors degree before starting chiropractic college. The amount of research that is currently conducted and the growing future of chiropractic research will demand ever increasing levels of education. In addition to the listed resources consider:,

Acknowledge weaknesses:
- Cultural authority
- Professional bigotry
- Limited resources Competition with PTs,NPs,DOs, etc.
- Limited supportive data for our services

We have strengths: Lead with our strengths:
- Patient Satisfaction
- Conservative‐holistic approach
- Clinical effectiveness
- Relative low cost

90% of patients felt chiropractic care was effective and
75% felt expectations were met.
–Gallup Poll, 1991

•Greater satisfaction with chiropractic care than with
medical, physical therapy, or osteopathic care.
–Harris Poll, 1994

25 Hottest Articles in The Spine Journal
• 13/25 articles have at least one author who is a DC
• 10/25 papers include content relating to chiropractic
• 6/25 articles include the terms in the title
• the 10th hottest article is authored by chiropractor: Dr. Pickar

• Chiropractic care reduces both costs and need for
‐Wellmark pilot study, 2008
• Less costly (about 40%)than care initiated through a
medical doctor.
‐Liliedahl,JMPT, 2010

The future of health care is bright as the patient's, government & commercial carriers are demanding payment for outcomes. The World Health Organization's Intenational Classification of Function is the current model for impairment (AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment 6th edition)page 3. Chiropractic addresses function and outcomes.
Consider chiropractic as a career, we need bright minds.
John McCarthy, D.C.
Orlando, FL.

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over 6 years ago

I am a chiropractor. I am pleased with this article in it's explanation of chiropractic and the references it sites for further information. This gives just enough information to peak interest and offers resources for those who would like to do further research. Quite commendable.

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about 3 years ago

Hello, this is the Pre$ident of the United States of 'Merica. It is true, we are fat. Personally I love burgers and fries. LOL JK. 'Merica is not fat. We r a gr8 cuntry. Praise Jesus, and God Bless 'Merica. Obama out!

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over 5 years ago

Hello,My name is Madi,i'm 14 and i have wanted to be a chiropractor for a while now, i am creating a gear up power point presentation for attending Washington State University and i just wanted to say thank you for all the very useful information.:)