The average chiropractor salary is $85,870 per year or $41.28 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
Looking at median salary figures, fifty percent of chiropractors make more than $71,410 and fifty percent make less. Compared to the median annual wage for all occupations ($38,640), chiropractors make nearly double.
If you become a chiropractor, you could earn much less or much more than the average annual salary. Your experience level, specialty, location, and industry have a big influence over your earning potential.
Highest and Lowest Average Chiropractor Salary
The BLS reports the highest and lowest salaries for chiropractors, which are as follows:
- The lowest 10% of chiropractors earn less than $34,990 per year
- The top 10% of chiropractors earn more than $139,320
Average Chiropractor Salary by Experience Level
Just as it is with most careers, the more experience you have as a chiropractor, the more you’ll get paid. Payscale* reports that chiropractors can expect to make the following based on their years of experience:
- Less than 1 year of experience: $52,023 average annual salary + bonuses
- 1-4 years of experience: $56,112 average annual salary + bonuses
- 5-9 years of experience: $65,225 average annual salary + bonuses
- 10-19 years of experience: $70,263 average annual salary + bonuses
- 20+ years of experience: $77,457 average annual salary + bonuses
*While the BLS collects salary information directly from employers, Payscale collects their data directly from employees.
Average Chiropractor Salary by Industry
Chiropractors work in a healthcare setting, but how much they’re compensated varies widely depending on which healthcare industry they choose. According to the BLS, chiropractors work in just under 30 different industries.
Average Chiropractor Salary in the Top-Paying Industries
Chiropractors working in the following industries make the most money:
- Offices of Physicians: $104,520 average annual salary
- Outpatient Care Centers: $98,320 average annual salary
- Other Ambulatory Health Care Services: $88,070 average annual salary
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $87,810 average annual salary
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $84,740 average annual salary
Average Chiropractor Salary in the Lowest-Paying Industries
These are some of the lowest paying industries for chiropractors as of May 2018:
- Amusement, Gambling, Recreation Industries: $67,830 average annual salary
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: $67,830 average annual salary
- Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers: $68,600 average annual salary
- Other Amusement and Recreation Industries: $68,600 average annual salary
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools: $75,220 average annual salary
Median salaries might seem low compared to the profession’s average, but even in the lowest-paying industries, the top 10% of chiropractors still earn well over $110,000.
Average Chiropractor Salary by State and City
Where you choose to work also significantly affects how much you’ll earn as a chiropractor. For reference, the national average chiropractor salary is $85,870.
States with the Highest Average Chiropractor Salary
The BLS identifies the following as the top five states/territories that pay chiropractors the most on average:
- Rhode Island: $115,350 average annual salary
- Tennessee: $114,630 average annual salary
- New Jersey: $114,010 average annual salary
- Washington: $111,100 average annual salary
- Missouri: $104,330 average annual salary
Typically, states that pay more also have a higher cost of living. In those cases, a higher salary doesn’t necessarily translate to more money in your savings account or more money to put toward your student loans. Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Washington are 10th, 11th, and 15th on CNBC’s list of most expensive states to live in. That’s just something to keep in mind before heading right to one of these states after graduation.
Cities with the Highest Average Chiropractor Salary
The city you live in also affects your earning potential. The BLS identifies the following cities as the top-paying metropolitan areas for chiropractors:
- Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL: $235,150 average annual salary
- Flint, MI: $144,790 average annual salary
- Toledo, OH: $142,460 average annual salary
- Reno, NV: $129,890 average annual salary
- Rapid City, SD: $127,270 average annual salary
Before moving yourself down to Florida, do some research. The BLS doesn’t report employment estimates for the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL metropolitan area, which may indicate that only a few chiropractors practice there.
States with the Lowest Average Chiropractor Salary
Some states pay chiropractors much less. Here are lowest-paying states for chiropractors:
- Utah: $54,220 average annual salary
- Montana: $60,390 average annual salary
- Kansas: $62,500 average annual salary
- Michigan: $66,410 average annual salary
- Arizona: $67,460 average annual salary
Is Becoming a Chiropractor Worth It?
Chiropractors typically spend seven to eight years in school before earning their Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and state license. First, aspiring chiropractors spend three to four years in an undergraduate program and then an additional four years in a doctorate program accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education.
While earning a bachelor’s degree (or at least 90 credits in undergraduate courses) and a doctorate degree, chiropractors take on a lot of debt. Four years of chiropractic school alone costs approximately $120,000. That doesn’t include undergraduate school costs, books, lab fees, activity fees, insurance, technology fees, equipment, or living expenses.
How much of these expenses end up as student loans? A lot of them.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association found that 88% of chiropractic students from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport had between $100,000 to more than $175,000 in total student loan debt. Debt totals will vary between schools, but most schools charge similar amounts for tuition.
Is all that debt worth it?
It really depends. As we’ve covered above, chiropractors do have the potential to earn a lot of money. The BLS also reports an excellent job outlook for chiropractors. Jobs in this profession are expected to grow by 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is fast considering the projected percent change in employment for all occupations is just seven percent. The BLS cites the aging baby boomer population and the increasingly widespread acceptance of chiropractic treatment as reasons for the job growth.
Still, taking on a lot of debt to enter this career is risky. Many chiropractors start their own practices, which are profitable in the long run but not necessarily profitable from the start. It becomes even more complicated if you default on your student loans during the early stages of your business. Your credit score will go down, lowering your chances at securing low-interest business lines of credit or loans.
Student loan default rates for chiropractors are mixed. In 2012, chiropractic graduates accounted for 52.8 percent of all Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) defaults. This was a federal loan program available to medical professionals back in 1998. Although HEALs aren’t issued any more, chiropractors are still making payments on these loans.
More recent graduates are having more success with their loans. In 2015, graduates of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa who were in their first year of federal student loan repayment had only a 1.9 percent default rate. Graduates of New York Chiropractic College had a 1.6 percent default rate. Both are exceptionally low compared to the 2015 national default rate of 10.8%.
All that being said, if you’re passionate about becoming a chiropractor, you can make it work. You just need to be smart about how you pay for school. Here are a few tips:
- Research a school’s default rate and alumni salaries to determine how well a particular chiropractic program will prepare you for the real world.
- Since your options for a doctorate program are limited, maximize savings during your undergraduate years by starting at community college or attending an in-state public school.
- Only borrow what you must and opt for federal student loans whenever possible.
- At the very least, pay down the interest on your student loans as you go through school.
- After graduation, choose an income-based repayment plan that lets you pay more as your salary increases.
- Work for the government or a non-profit organization for 10 years and then apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness to have your eligible federal student loans forgiven
Refinance your private student loans to reduce your monthly payment and/or lower your interest rate
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College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (2)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. (3)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 1/27/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
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Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
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