A chiropractor is a healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with a focus on treatment through manual manipulation and adjustment of the spine.
Most chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the patient’s functionality as well as educate them on how they can improve their own health through exercises, ergonomics and other therapies that target back pain treatment. Chiropractor salary, like that of other professionals is determined by a host of factors including location of practice and work experience.
Scope of work
Chiropractors use noninvasive techniques to relieve pain, improve mobility and restore the patient’s back to complete health and movement. These professionals use their hands to apply targeted force to adjust the body’s joints. Chiropractors treat acute and chronic conditions such as back pains, neck and shoulder problems, joints, posture and muscles problems as well as injuries developed during sporting activities.
A chiropractor takes a holistic approach to the healing process, taking into account the physical, psychological and social factors, and appreciates the importance of working with other healthcare providers to deliver healing to the patient. Chiropractic treatment is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process without involving drugs or surgery.
Chiropractors focus on the intimate relationship between the spine and the nervous system, and ascribe to the following beliefs:
• Biomechanical and structural rearrangement of the spine can have a direct effect on the nervous system
• For most conditions, chiropractic treatment can restore the spine’s structural integrity, thus reducing pressure on the sensitive neurological tissues hence consequently improving the health of the patient.
Typical work of a chiropractor
Most of the chiropractor’s time is spent on consultations. These consultations involve diagnosis and treatment and include:
• Collecting medical histories, including information on past surgeries, injuries and general health and lifestyle.
• Performing physical examinations on patients, focusing on the posture and spine while noting the range of mobility.
• Taking and interpreting X-rays from patients
• Perform other medical tests like checking the patient’s blood pressure
• Develop appropriate pain treatment or management plan for the patient
• Use hands and other specialist equipment to perform adjustments to the spine and joints
• Perform soft tissue massage therapies
• Advice patients on rehabilitation exercises for long term recovery from injuries
• Keep accurate and confidential patient records
• Work in liaison with other healthcare providers and refer patients for other medical treatments
Chiropractor education and training
The Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE) and its Commission on Accreditation is an autonomous national that checks the quality of training offered by chiropractic colleges. Besides establishing the accreditation criteria, CCE ensures quality of chiropractic education in the United States by promoting educational excellence within its member programs and institutions.
The education path to becoming a practicing chiropractor is nearly as long as becoming a conventional medical doctor. In the United States, the first school for chiropractors was established in 1897. By 2013, there were 15 programs accredited by the Council of Chiropractic Education to offer a doctor of chiropractic degree.
During the enrollment process, candidates are required to show proof of the following:
• A genuine interest in chiropractic studies
• Ability to cope with the physical and intellectual demands of the program and the profession
• Strong interpersonal and communication skills
• An inquisitive and critical mind
• Good listening skills
• Sensitivity, discretion and empathy
• A logical approach to problem solving
Most students earn a bachelor’s degree before entering the doctorate program. Before enrolling for this program, you must complete at least 90 hours of undergraduate study with specialty in sciences such as chemistry, biology, psychology and physics.
Depending on the institution, the doctorate usually takes four to five years of graduate study. During this period, you will take courses in neurology, anatomy, orthopedics, psychology, nutrition and clinical diagnosis among other subject areas. The program also includes over 500 hours of practical instruction on spinal adjustment and analysis techniques. In total, chiropractic training involves at least 4,200 hours of class, laboratory and clinical study.
All chiropractors are required to have a doctor of chiropractic degree before they can be licensed to practice in the United States. The requirements may vary by state; however, most jurisdictions require chiropractors to pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners test as well as state mandated exams before they can be licensed to practice.
A number of factors come to play when it comes to determining chiropractor salary range; location, employer size, level of education and training, all have a bearing on physician assistant salary. According to a survey conducted in November 2014, the average salary of a chiropractor in the United States was $135,000. While this is the average figure, the same survey found out that some 50% of chiropractors are yet to achieve this rate of pay.
States hiring the largest number of chiropractors
It is estimated that there are around 28,000 chiropractors currently licensed to practice in the US. However, these healthcare providers are not even distributed around the country. California employs the highest number of chiropractors where it is estimated that 2,000 chiropractors are licensed to practice in the state. Other states with the highest number of chiropractors are Florida with 1,800, Texas with 1,700 and Illinois with 1,600 licensed chiropractors.
Chiropractor salary by state: Metropolitan offering the highest chiropractor salaries
Due to high demand, chiropractor salaries are usually higher in metropolitan areas. Anchorage, Alaska is the metropolis with the highest average physical therapist salary package at $170,000 per year which translates to $83 per hour. Other areas paying high chiropractor salary packages are Pensacola, Florida at $150,000 followed by Rockford, Illinois at $140,200.
The lowest chiropractor salaries are generally paid to newly qualified professionals who are just making an entry into the job market. These professionals earn about $30,000 per year alongside bonus payments. This equates to an hourly wage of $14.
Commissions and bonuses
Depending on the industry the chiropractor is employed in, they may be entitled to commissions and bonuses on top of the regular physical assistant salary. Studies show that some industries offer chiropractors up to $20,000 per year in bonuses and commissions. Employer packages also come with healthcare cover, retirement plans as well as optional saving schemes.
As with the other careers in the healthcare industry, employment for chiropractors is set to rise with the expansion of the country’s healthcare system. Demand for chiropractic care is also on the rise as more and more people are abandoning drug related treatments for alternative therapies in an effort to improve their health and boost their mobility. It is estimated that nearly 50% of the chiropractors in the US are employed in private practice while the rest work in different healthcare set ups like hospitals, physician offices and out-patient clinics as well as HMOs.
Chiropractors are physical therapists who care for patients with spine, nerve, joint and muscle disorders. They do so by adjusting the patient’s body with appropriate care in order to restore it to physical and emotional wellbeing. The salary of a chiropractor varies widely depending on experience, hours worked, number of clients and the location of practice.
To learn more about being a Chiropractor watch the video above.