How to Advance (Advancement)
Newly licensed chiropractors can set up a new practice, purchase an established one, or enter into partnership with an established practitioner. They also may take a salaried position with an established chiropractor, a group practice, or a healthcare facility.
Chiropractors held about 49,100 jobs in 2008. Most chiropractors work in a solo practice, although some are in group practice or work for other chiropractors. A small number teach, conduct research at chiropractic institutions, or work in hospitals and clinics. Approximately 44 percent of chiropractors were self-employed.
Many chiropractors are located in small communities. However, the distribution of chiropractors is not geographically uniform. This occurs primarily because new chiropractors frequently establish their practices in close proximity to one of the few chiropractic educational institutions.
Employment is projected to grow much faster than average. Job prospects should be good.
Employment of chiropractors is expected to increase 20 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Projected job growth stems from increasing consumer demand for alternative healthcare. Because chiropractors emphasize the importance of healthy lifestyles and do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery, chiropractic care is appealing to many health-conscious Americans. Chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, extremities, and joints has become more accepted as a result of research and changing attitudes about alternative, noninvasive healthcare practices. Chiropractors who specialize in pediatric care will be in demand as chiropractic spinal treatment is very gentle and children enjoy subsequent visits. The rapidly expanding older population, with its increased likelihood of mechanical and structural problems, also will increase demand for chiropractors.
Demand for chiropractic treatment, however, is related to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or through health insurance. Although more insurance plans now cover chiropractic services, the extent of such coverage varies among plans. Chiropractors must educate communities about the benefits of chiropractic care in order to establish a successful practice.
Job prospects for new chiropractors are expected to be good, especially for those who enter a multi-disciplined practice, consisting of, for example, a chiropractor, physical therapist, and medical doctor. Multi-disciplined practices are cost effective and allow patients to remain in-house. Should a patient be referred to a medical doctor, they may use the “in-house” doctor or one of their own choosing. Chiropractors usually remain in the occupation until they retire and few transfer to other occupations, so replacement needs arise almost entirely from retirements. Establishing a new practice will be easiest in areas with a low concentration of chiropractors.
Median annual wages of salaried chiropractors were $66,490 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $45,540 and $96,700 a year.
In 2009, the mean salary for chiropractors was $94,454 according to a survey conducted by Chiropractic Economics magazine.
In chiropractic, as in other types of independent practice, earnings are relatively low in the beginning and increase as the practice grows. Geographic location and the characteristics and qualifications of the practitioner also may influence earnings.
Salaried chiropractors typically receive health insurance and retirement benefits from their employers, whereas self-employed chiropractors must provide for their own health insurance and retirement.
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