What is a Chiropractor

Chiropractor (also known as Chiropractic Doctor, Chiropractic Physician or Doctors of Chiropractic) is a health care professional specialized in the diagnosis, treatment, and preventative care of health related problems associated with spine, nervous system, pelvis, and joints. Chiropractic is considered a complimentary or alternative medicine. Due to a lack of scientific evidence, some physicians and other heath care practitioners do not support the use of chiropractic to treat patients.

The main emphasis of chiropractic medicine is the manipulation of the spine, without the use of  drugs or surgical procedures. Unlike physical therapists that focus on exercise and machinery or massage therapists that manipulate muscle and connective tissues, chiropractors generally use a conservative approach in managing the neuromusculoskeletal system. In addition, chiropractors also provide patients with maintenance care. For more on job description, please visit our chiropractor job description page.

Work Environment

Most chiropractors work in a private clinical settings, either owned by themselves or by other chiropractors. New graduates often start their career by working for more established chiropractors in the field. As their reputation and client base grow, they may open their own clinic or take over the established clinic if the original owner retires. Only a small percentage of chiropractors practice in hospitals or physician offices. Standing on their feet most of the day is not uncommon when they are treating their patients.

Work Schedule

Chiropractors usually work during regular business hours and are employed full time. About 21% of chiropractors only work part time, while a quarter of chiropractors work well above 50 hours per week. Work schedule is largely dependent on the chiropractor themselves as they are usually self employed. To accommodate certain patients’ schedule, some chiropractors may choose to work evenings and weekends as well.

Mean Annual Chiropractor Salary

Chiropractors make a comfortable living with an average annual income of $79,550. The lowest 10% of  chiropractor salaries are less than $31,030. The top 10% of chiropractor salaries reach more than $142,950.

Chiropractor Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$79,550 per year
$38.25 per hour
Top 10% Salary$142,950 per year
$68.73 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$31,030 per year
$14.92 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201227,740

Job Outlook and Prospects

The growth rate of jobs in the chiropractic field is 15%, meaning that between 2012 and 2022, it is expected that there will be almost 6,500 new jobs created in this profession. This is encouraging as the field is currently rather small, meaning that there is already increased demand for these health professionals. Schooling for chiropractors takes 7 to 8 years, making some wary of dedicating this much time and money into schooling. However, with the job market increasing steadily, it is highly likely that this field will continue to grow. The following factors will contribute to an increase in chiropractors jobs:

  1. Increasing number of people with lower back pain
  2. Baby-boomer population are entering retirement
  3. Insurance plans which include chiropractic services are expected to grow
  4. People will use chiropractic services to avoid other methods of treatment, such as prescription medication and surgical procedures

Salary Analysis

A chiropractor’s salary is highly volatile depending upon numerous factors. Although the annual median wage hasn’t changed significantly throughout the past few years, there are numerous factors that an individual can understand and take advantage of in order to increase their salary regardless of pay increases. Just some of these factors include specialization, industry, and location.


The chiropractic field is quite small, meaning that experience can make a significant difference in the type of job that a person can secure with their education and other credentials. Experience in the industry often means the development of specialties as well, making individuals more valuable for companies looking for chiropractors to hire.


Because there are only 27,740 individuals currently employed as chiropractors, most of the top paying industries are also highly concentrated. This makes excellent credentials and other experiential factors increasingly important, especially because the largest industry employs almost all chiropractors. Additionally, unique skillsets required for top paying industries like dental offices, employment services, and specialty hospitals increasingly important, resulting in pay that typically ranges anywhere from $81,760 to $124,410 and more.


The highest paying states for chiropractors are almost all located on the East coast, which is also the region in which the most professionals in this field of work are employed. This means that chiropractors in Alaska, Ohio, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Washington work in states that have a high demand for these professionals, resulting in pay ranging from approximately $100,000 to $155,000 or even more.

Not surprisingly, both metropolitan areas and nonmetropolitan areas with the highest paid chiropractors are located in states that are also regarded as top paying locations. Employment in these areas is often limited to as little as 30 individuals, meaning that salaries range upwards of $170,000. Of course, this would lead one to believe that areas with a limited number of chiropractors place these individuals in higher demand, leading to higher pay.

Chiropractor Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Spokane, WA: $173,220Alaska: $157,420Offices of Dentists: $124,410California: (2,030 jobs) $78,800
Anchorage, AK: $167,280Ohio: $126,060Employment Services: $87,340Florida: (1,820 jobs) $77,310
Camden, NJ: $158,270North Carolina: $113,330Specialty Hospitals: $81,760Illinois: (1,790 jobs) $91,460
Akron, OH: $152,870Massachusetts: $106,340Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $79,480Texas: (1,670 jobs) $57,370
Rockford, IL: $146,900Washington: $97,160Offices of Physicians: $76,090Michigan: (1,480 jobs) $76,330

chiropractor salary state by state