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What does a Chiropractor do?

A chiropractor might work under one of many job titles.  Such titles include, but are not limited to Physician, Doctorate of Chiropractic; Doctor of Chiropractic, Sole Practitioner, Chiropractor, Chiropractor Physician, Chiropractic Neurologist, a Chiropractic Doctor or DC, an Associate Doctor, or simply a practitioner of Chiropractic Care.  Chiropractors go to school and earn the appropriate degrees so that upon entering the workforce they are capable and competent enough to assist patients with an array of health conditions. Chiropractors might focus on a chosen health issue, while others enjoy performing different types of healing techniques or in offering an eclectic assortment of holistic treatments that accompany the regular chiropractic treatments provided to select patients.

Some professional chiropractors deal with spinal and musculoskeletal issues wherein the patient goes through an initial examination to diagnose any existing issue.  The diagnosis is followed by the creation of a treatment plan that includes the different techniques a chiropractor uses to manipulate the spine and physiotherapy. The chiropractor will go over everything with the patient before performing any treatment measures. At that time, the patient can ask questions or voice concerns.  The skilled chiropractor will have exceptional communication and social skills so the patient can feel at ease when receiving treatment for any condition.  Establishing a good doctor-patient relationship is important since some chiropractic positions come with incentives based on the chiropractor’s productivity level.

Who is a Chiropractor?

Some chiropractors are entrepreneurs who establish their own practice and work in the capacity of a sole proprietor.  Others who are trained in chiropractic treatment might work as a team member or group in a medical facility. The chiropractor does well when having excellent people skills as it ensures the security of the practice when patients return for further treatment in the future.  Thus, the person in the role of chiropractor needs to establish a solid relationship with his patients: More so, when those who seek out chiropractic treatment require care over an extended period, whether it is weeks, months, or years.

In the role of chiropractor, there are positions where the individual might manage a group of professional assistants who offer general care before using chiropractic methods of treatment, and a single chiropractor will prove responsible for overseeing the group or staff members.   Excellent communication skills, again, are a much-needed skill as the chiropractor managing others needs to be able to communicate with others in an effective way.  There are occasions where a chiropractor might work with others in the field of medicine, with all who are working together looking to optimize the well-being of the patient requesting a consultation, and/or treatment.

The chiropractor is one who is highly organized because the doctor must track a person’s health, medical history, treatment, outcomes, and any other related records.  Any treatment the chiropractor offers also has to be documented in case the doctor needs to refer patients to alternative specialists. To work in this field

the individual must complete the appropriate time of schooling and earn a Chiropractic Degree.  The student will have to take a state board examination in order to become a licensed practitioner.

Chiropractor Job Description

Chiropractors deal with a range of conditions by using physical or manual manipulation techniques to adjust the spine so it can help in healing the body naturally.  An alignment can, in some cases, alleviate painful conditions and/or reduce muscle cramping and tension.  Spinal adjustments are usually ongoing and regular with some issues only requiring a few treatments, and others requiring treatment plans many months of treatment.  Issues the chiropractor treats relate to the neuromusculoskeletal system which includes tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones, and nerves. A constellation of techniques is used by a chiropractor in an effort to manipulate and adjust the spinal column. Some techniques involve ongoing and regular adjustments; some require the mobilization of the spine and neck, and other treatments might intermingle mobilization (low force treatment) followed by a period of ongoing and regular adjustments. However, the chief treatment chiropractors offer is often called spinal manipulation or spinal adjustment.  It is sometimes called HVLA meaning high-velocity low-amplitude thrust or the diversified technique as well.

In addition to spinal adjustments and manipulation, as part of the chiropractor job description, a chiropractor is trained in offering additional treatment for therapeutic benefit including electric stimulation, heat, and ice, or alternative physical therapy treatments, and ultrasound. On an initial visit, the doctor examines the patient, collects a complete medical history, diagnosis the issue and discusses the possible plan of treatment.

Chiropractor Duties and Tasks

A chiropractor’s responsibilities are diverse and highly dependent on the patient’s condition, medical issue, and need for care.  Some of the duties the chiropractor must deal with include:

  • Provide patients with information related to healthy living, particularly when pertaining to sleep, nutritional intake, exercise, and necessary lifestyle changes to ensure optimal health is achieved.
  • To examine the patient, take X-rays when necessary, and to determine the health and condition of one’s reflexes, spine, and posture.
  • To review the patient’s entire and broad medical history to get a full picture of the patient’s condition.
  • To hear out a patient’s concerns and when possible, to provide clarification to the patient when necessary to ease their mind.
  • Perform necessary testing, including x-rays and physical examinations.
  • To supplement spinal adjustments and alignments with physical therapy modalities like the application of massage, heat, ice, or electric stimulation.
  • Offer patients therapy through neuromusculoskeletal therapy or by hand spinal column adjustments as well as the adjustment of other joints in the body.
  • Refer the patient to a healthcare professional should the instance arise where the doctor feels the patient can benefit from such a visit.
  • Familiarity and use of alternative treatments including ultrasound, rehabilitative exercise, massage therapy. Sometimes chiropractors will supply patients with shoe inserts or braces when needed. If the chiropractor is an entrepreneur, she will be responsible for keeping documents safe, documenting everything, hiring people and marketing the business through various means of advertising.
  • Keep up with the latest medical information as it relates to the practice of chiropractic medicine.

Skills Required

  • Nutritional and dietary intake guidance
  • Exercise advice
  • General patient education
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic Modalities of Treatment
  • Physiological modalities of therapy
  • Health and wellness patient education
  • Rehabilitation
  • Diagnosing disorders
  • Designing treatment plans
  • Patient consultation and exceptional interactions
  • Familiarity with sacral orthopedic and lumbar support equipment
  • Familiarity with rehabilitation equipment
  • Basic computer skills
  • A firm knowledge and background in using the medical equipment to complete all of the tasks required of the chiropractor during the course of treatment.
  • Accounting software such as the likes OF EZClaim medical billing
  • Scheduling software
  • The use of other medical software programs, when applicable

Working Conditions

The job is either entrepreneurial or one where the chiropractor works along with a group of medical professionals.  A few chiropractors might take up work in a doctor’s office or hospital environment.  The chiropractor often has a personal office established if not working within a group.  This job will require long hours of being on one’s feet and nearly an entire day filled with the interaction with patients and other people like referring doctors and the like. At the office, the chiropractor will offer consultations, examinations, information, guidance, and patient support.  All care, either new or ongoing, is documented and stored; this documentation process might involve transcription or some other form of dictation and translation from voice to the written word so that it can be stored in a magnetic, electronic, and/or paper format. In 2014, many those working under the title of chiropractor did so on full-time basis, with about 25% of chiropractors working part-time.  Some chiropractors might offer special evening and/or weekend hours to appeal to those patients with tighter time constraints during regular hours. The entrepreneurial chiropractor establishes his or her own schedule and hours.

Chiropractor Salary

Chiropractor salary

How Much does a Chiropractor Make?

The salary of a chiropractor will differ considerably.  Such factors include one’s location and where the practice is established, one’s level of experience, one’s skill set, and whether the chiropractor is self-employed or working for a medical group or another health-related organization.  The national average salary for a chiropractor is $62,000.  Those who start out in the industry in the entry-level, with zero to five years of experience, typically earn a bit less than the national average and bring home about $58,000 a year.  By mid-career, when the person has achieved five to 10 years in the field, the chiropractor is making about $5,000 more a year salary of about $67,000.  For those who have extensive experience in the industry, with 10 to 20 years of experience, usually, the individual makes about $74,000 a year, which is about $12,000 more a year than those at the entry-level of their career.  For those who reach the advanced stages of this career, with 20 years or more experience, the salary increases up to $81,000.


Geographical location plays a role in what the chiropractor makes as well, with those who reside in Dallas, Texas making roughly five percent more than the natural average with a pay of $65,621.00.  Those who live in Los Angeles have a median pay of about four percent the national average at $65,000.00, while those who live in Minneapolis, Minnesota make about $800.00 less than the national average.

When consideration how much do chiropractors make a lot of influential factors come into play. Those who are self-employed may or may not make more than the chiropractor working within a group of medical professionals.  The self-employed chiropractor must deal with all overhead costs, including the costs of equipment, a location to treat patients, advertising and all the things it costs to keep the business operational. The self-employed may have to work longer hours too, to deal with all the paperwork and documentation the business requires.  Meanwhile, in the early stages of one’s career, when just establishing a client base, the income can prove a lot less than when the chiropractor is established with a steady returning client base.  Similarly, the choice to work full or part time as a chiropractor has a direct impact on yearly salary.

Certain chiropractic skills can influence the chiropractor salary.  These skills will likely increase salary by varying percentages, depending on the skill in question.  The use of chiropractic modalities is a prerequisite, so it behooves a chiropractor to keep abreast of the latest treatment techniques as it can increase the national average yearly salary of $62,000 by as much as three percent.  Also, having a solid education in health and offering health and wellness services an increase the annual yearly salary by as much as five percent.  If the chiropractor offers rehabilitation services, this can increase his salary by as much as six percent per year.

Chiropractor Employment

Of the chiropractors working in the industry, about eight percent have less than a year’s experience.  Those who have one to four years of experience working equal about 36% of active chiropractors.  Those who have five to nine years of experience equal about 19% of working chiropractors. About 20 percent of working chiropractors have ten to 19 years of experience. Finally, those in the advanced stages of their career, with 20 years or greater, number about 17 percent.

When it comes to common health benefits, about 35% of all chiropractors have medical insurance. Only 15% of chiropractors have dental coverage. About 12% have vision coverage, and the remaining 65% have no insurance coverage.


In 2010, there were 26,250 working chiropractors; this number increases by 1,260 jobs in 2011 to a total of 27,510 working chiropractors.  In 2012, another slight increase is seen, as much as 230 jobs.  By 2013, another increase occurs and there are an additional 1,110 chiropractors working in the field. Finally, in 2014, 29,830 jobs were filled demonstrating an increase of 980 chiropractic positions that year.

Gender Distribution

There is a gross demonstration of an imbalance in the number of females working in the chiropractic field, all of 20%, when viewing the 80% of males who work under the job title. One reason there may be such a discrepancy in this career field is that there is sometimes a bias leading to the notion that men are more scientifically and analytically mind and therefore more suitable for the position.  Another theory asserts since women might apply a weaker thrusting action when performing treatments, they might not be well-suited to the chiropractic career. While the assertion has been studied by scientists and found to have no truth whatsoever.  Nevertheless, with the potential perception that women might not be physically suited to the position, this might hold some females back from pursuing a career that they might be otherwise perfectly suited.


How to Become a Chiropractor?

become an Chiropractor

To fill the role of chiropractor, one will need to attend an accredited school, college, or university to eventually earn a Doctor of Chiropractic.  A state examination is required to begin working as a licensed professional.  The initial program takes a period of four years to finish and to go for a Masters, the student must have three years of undergrad schooling completed to qualify for program admission.

Chiropractor Education Requirements

When asking the question of “how to become a chiropractor,” one can expect some considerable schooling required. Schools that offer chiropractic programs are accredited by a specific organization: The Council on Chiropractic Education.  In 2014, there were about 15 different Doctor of Chiropractic degree programs available on 18 different campuses across the nation. Chiropractic education requirements are extensive. To get into these special programs a student must complete a total of 90 semester hours of one’s undergrad learning, which includes coursework related to things like biology, chemistry, physics, the sciences, and liberal arts.  Some students opt for bachelor degree completion before applying to the chiropractic graduate program.  The graduate program also includes gaining clinical experience where the student gets some hands-on experience diagnosing disease and using some adjustment methodologies. Graduates must meet state requirements for licensing, which typically includes an examination created by Chiropractic Examiners which is a four-part examination.

Chiropractor Colleges

Below are the top ten chiropractor colleges offering the chance to earn a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine.  All the schools are accredited locations.  All the schools are accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education.

  1. Life University in Marietta, Georgia, United States
  2. Logan University in Chesterfield, Missouri
  3. National University of Health Sciences in Lombard Illinois
  4. New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Fall, New York
  5. North-western Health Sciences University in Bloomington Minnesota
  6. Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa
  7. Parker University in Dallas, Texas
  8. Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, South Carolina
  9. Southern California University of Health Sciences in Whittier, California
  10. Texas Chiropractic College in Pasadena, Texas

Major Subjects

Major subjects when it comes to mastering chiropractic treatment modalities include biology, physiology, anatomy.  Since many chiropractors work in a self-employed capacity, billing, financial management, and business administration are exceptional electives for the student to consider.  Additional coursework might include a study of human diseases, deformities, injuries, and their treatment; psychology, and classes for the purposes of mastering business management skills.

Chiropractor Specializations

As a chiropractic student, you can choose to take up a specialty and thereby increase the likelihood of a good leap into the field of chiropractic medicine. For example, the American Chiropractic Association established different chiropractic specializations. Here, you will find just a few of your options:

DABCA (Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Acupuncture) Specialist – This designation signifies a skill in acupuncture holistic treatment modality, allowing for a whole-body approach to healing by treating the meridian system, improving the flow of chi (energy), and treating the nervous system and spine. The program includes 36 weeks of post-graduate work at an accredited college.

DACBR Specialist (Chiropractic Diagnostic Imagining) requires three years’ post-doctoral studies plus a three-year residency in house and a two-part oral and written nationally governed examination for board certification.  The specialty includes mastery of the use of ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, and diagnostic imaging for diagnosing and tracking disease.

Additional specialties include focuses on nutrition (DABCN), Neurology (DACAN or DACNB); or you can be specializing in diagnosing patients and in identifying disorders arising inside the body (ABCI).  You can specialize in Orthopaedics (ACO), Rehabilitation (DACRB), Sports medicine (DACBSP), Craniocervical Junction Methodologies (DCCJP), or Pediatrics (FICC), among other specializations.

Professional Associations of Chiropractors

American Chiropractic Association or more easily referred to as the ACA is an organization created for the purpose of representing those who are actively working the chiropractors and it one of many associations of chiropractors.  The organization has the chief goals of improving, promoting, protecting, and preserving the profession and the representation of the professionals within the field.  The goal of the organization is to ensure the continued improvement and ongoing growth of the chiropractic field of study.  The ACA has a clear vision of where it wants the organization and the field of chiropractic study/treatment to by 2023 to have a clear-cut, understandable form of healthcare and the organization hopes to instigate improvements in health care delivery models, as well as improve safety and wellness.  This agency is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and it is the biggest professional association that represents chiropractic doctors in the US.

Famous Chiropractors

Among the famous chiropractors is Daniel David (D.D) Palmer who was born in March of 1845. He is the founder of the chiropractic form of treatment.  A native of what is now Ontario (formerly Pickering, Canada West). Twenty years later he moved to the United States, and 15 years later was using magnetic forms of healing while residing in Iowa.  It was in the mid-1890s when Palmer encountered a man who was having trouble hearing and after manipulating his spine, Palmer claimed the Mr. Harvey Lillard’s hearing was repaired. It is Palmer who created the understanding of how spinal misalignment and the misalignment of a person’s bones was at the root of all disease or rather “dis-ease.”  Palmer argued that many issues stemmed from a spine that is misaligned.  Two years after the incident with Lillard, Palmer established the first school to teach the chiropractic arts: The Palmer School of Chiropractic which was in Davenport, Iowa.  He headed up the school and taught his alignment technique, but not without issue as lawsuits were filed and Palmer spent some time briefly incarcerated. He then decided to sell the establishment to his son B.J. Palmer, who invested a considerable amount of time in developing the school, expanding it and developing the general understanding behind chiropractic teachings.

Barlett Joshua Palmer, sometimes simply B.J. was born in September in the year 1882.  He is the son of D.D. Palmer and a native of What Cheer, Iowa. As the father is understood as the “creator” of chiropractic treatment, B.J. Palmer is understood as the actual “developer” of the healing modality. For many years, D.D. would not share his chiropractic ideas with anyone as he was worried about someone stealing them.  B.J Palmer eventually talked his father into allowing him to be an apprentice to learn the techniques.  Later, as mentioned above, he took over the chiropractic school his father first established following his father’s incarceration.  In 1904, Palmer married Mabel Heath and the couple both worked in the capacity of chiropractors and teachers at what was then called “Palmer College.”  While his wife focused on teaching anatomy, he taught students that it was the uppermost portion of the spine (the cervical vertebrae) that was the foremost key to a person’s overall physical health, and he created the Upper Cervical via Toggle Recoil technique which he nicknamed the “Hole-in-One,” application.  Palmer approved of X-rays and the Neruocalometer in chiropractic practices.

Chiropractors FAQ

What are some of the pros that go along with being a chiropractor?

The outlook for the chiropractic career is exceptional as the industry promises continued growth over the next seven years: The prediction is an anticipated 17% growth rate. Many people from a variety of age groups and backgrounds are starting to demonstrate an interest in complementary medicine, and it is likely the number of female chiropractors will increase between now and 2024.  If desired, the chiropractor can specialize in an array of specialties including things like nutrition, diagnostic imaging, and neurology to name a few.  If the chiropractor is self-employed, he has the freedom of establishing his own work schedule and to control the practice’s operations any way he sees fit to do so. Finally, many insurance providers offer coverage for chiropractic treatment, so this means the chiropractor can establish a far larger base of patients.

What are the cons of being a chiropractor?

There is a lot of schooling involved to obtain the DC: Doctor of Chiropractic degree. The student can expect a rigorous course of study and four to five years to complete the program. The average salary is lower than that which other doctors earn, and the extensive debt after schooling can seem burdensome. Finally, this job is demanding both mentally and physically, as there can be long hours with most the time being on one’s feet. The long hours on the feet, ironically enough, may cause back strain or pain which might then need some chiropractic relief.

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