The accepted median annual salary for chiropractors is generally $66,490. Some estimates are much higher, or lower, depending on what organizing you use to track salary. Chiropractors that work in a private practice make more money than those that work for others, but the general consensus is that the range for salary falls in the $44,000 and $83,000.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The advantage of salaried employment as a chiropractor is that a larger organization might offer benefits, such as medical and dental insurance. Private practices are self-supported and therefore any benefits come from the doctor’s pocket; however, for successful chiropractors, a private practice can be lucrative.
Job Description and Outlook
Chiropractors take a more natural approach to the subject of pain and overall musculoskeletal health. The approach of many chiropractors is the begin with a thorough examination of the spinal region and then decide on treatments from that central region of the body.
The overall philosophy of chiropractors is that spinal alignment directly effects overall health, and therefore the spine must be treated, sometimes manipulated, in order to secure proper alignment and promote good overall health throughout the body. Chiropractors frequently deal with other muscular systems as well and will generally begin with the spine as a central starting point to restoring overall health to the body. It’s the opinion of most chiropractors that when musculoskeletal systems are off-balance, the body is less able to fight off other infections and diseases.
The purpose many chiropractors have is to avoid medication and surgical procedures in favor of more natural approaches such as diet, exercise, and rest, as well as chiropractic techniques to treat various ailments. A change in lifestyle and a focus on health are what they encourage patients to pursue and in the end, many patients are happy to report that they need less medication and surgeries to cope with their ailments.
Like doctors, chiropractors investigate the medical history of patients and use diagnostic techniques such as X-rays to identify problem points in the body. They do thorough orthopedic and neurological exams and at times even utilize laboratory tests to pinpoint problems with their patients. Like doctors, chiropractors must be caring, patient individuals that are willing to work with patients to reach the best treatment plan for them.
Training and Education Requirements
There are 16 chiropractic programs that the Council on Chiropractic education recognizes as viable for aspiring chiropractors. In order to obtain a bachelor’s degree, students must acquire 90 semester hours of undergraduate study. When entering an institution to study chiropractic medicine, students can expect to spend a lot of time learning organic chemistry, social sciences, and even psychology. The field of chiropractic medicine has expanded so much that now there are even pre-chiropractic study programs that can accompany a bachelor’s degree.
Expect to devote 4,200 hours of your life to chiropractic study. You’ll experience the field in the laboratory, classroom, and hands-on. Science will be a big part of your studies. Physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, pathology, and microbiology are some of the most challenging courses of the chiropractic study regime.
The last two years of study focus on spinal adjustment techniques as well as manipulation of the spine techniques. You’ll gain clinical experience, learn to diagnose conditions, and learn other integral parts of overall health such as nutrition, neurology, and orthopedics. Thanks to the quick advancement of chiropractic medicine, graduates are now able to obtain Doctor of Chiropractic, something that would have been unheard of even 20 short years ago.
Postdoctoral training is now available too. Specialty tests can lead to diplomat level in some specialties. There are many opportunities available in chiropractic service now that weren’t available even a few short years ago. It is rapidly expanding as more and more patients find that this branch of medicine truly helps to alleviate pain and increase overall feelings of well-being.
All states and the District of Columbia regulate chiropractic practices. There are licenses that can be awarded for those chiropractors that work hard and study beyond what is expected of them in general school programs. Some states even allow chiropractors to hold licenses in multiple states, thus giving all chiropractors the option to expand their practices. Even when able to practice in another state, the original license obtained must meet all requirements of the state in which the chiropractor is practicing.
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners handles licensing of chiropractors. There is a four-part test administered by the board, which consists of questions that have meet state requirements. For a chiropractor to obtain licensing, he or she must complete a set number of continuing education hours on a yearly basis. This ensures that chiropractors stay up to date on current techniques.
The most well-known professional organization for chiropractors is The American Chiropractic Association, usually called the ACA for short. According to their description of their association, they are “A professional organization representing Doctors of Chiropractic.” This organization gives all chiropractors a way to meet other chiropractors and share information to improve their services to clients. Professional organizations such as this allow serious practitioners to fine-tune their skills and continue learning throughout their career.
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