"I am a recent graduate of a chiropractic school in 2006. I had to switch professions because the field of chiropractic is so bad right now. I would not recommend anyone go into this field. US News now rates chiropractic as one of the most over-rated careers. In the past 20 years or so, many people entered the field of chiropractic because it was rated one of highest paying careers with the most job satisfaction. That is not true anymore. The 1980s were a very good financial time for all medical providers because insurance re-inbursement rates were so high. Chiropractors are just getting by on insurance scraps now (save for good auto-insurance, and this is beginning to change in many states).
The average salary for a new chiropractor is between $30-36K. I definitely found this to be the case. When I went job hunting, no one would offer more than $3K a month as a base salary. Bonus incentives are included in these contracts, but they can be very difficult to achieve. The contracts I received were designed so that I could not get a bonus very easily. Most new associate chiropractors are sent to do marketing jobs for established chiropractors. This includes doing spinal screenings at malls, health fairs, conventions, grocery stores, etc. Chiropractors have to work very hard to market for new patients. There is a gross over-supply of chiropractors right now in most major cities. Very few people find job offers that pay more than $30-36K a year. Usually the only chiropractic associate jobs that pay more are the ones that specialize in auto-accidents and Worker's compensation claims. From personal experience, the field of personal injury can be a VERY dirty business. The man that offered me my first job just had his license suspended for illegal telemarketing to auto-accident victims (they buy their telephone numbers from police reports, which are a public record).
Since chiropractor tuition is expensive (it costs around $150K to become a chiropractor) and the average salaries of new graduates are only a little over 30K, it will become very difficult to ever pay these loans off. There are only a couple other options for a new chiropractor. One is to open a new practice, and the other is to lease space in an existing practice. Since it is exorbitantly expensive to open a new practice, many new chiropractors choose to start their own business inside of an existing practice. Chiropractic graduates know that associateships just don't pay well enough, so they try to set up their own practices with very little real world clinical or business experience. In my graduating class, half of the class or more tried to set up their own practice. Oddly enough, most of these people tried to set up their practice in the city they graduated from because they did not want to relocate. I am sure you can see the problem with a large chunk of the graduating class all trying to set up their own new business in the same city. This cycle happens year after year after year, so the oversupply of chiropractors never diminishes.
I can assure you that a few years after graduation, a large portion of my fellow graduates have already gone out of business or are very close to drying up. This is a very difficult situation to be in, as new businesses of all kinds have a high failure rate. But why take up so many student loans just to be in a risky business proposition? The field of chiropractic has the highest student loan default rate of any health profession, and it is going to get much, much worse very soon (since insurance re-imbursement rates have fallen so low). Many chiropractors have been devastated by their decision to go to chiropractic school. The number of people who are barely scraping by in chiropractic is much, much higher than the number of people who were able to make a six-figure income.
Notice that I have not once brought up the validity or efficacy of chiropractic. That is a completely different topic and subject of debate. However, I will say that the internal problems of chiropractic is what is leading to chiropractic being such a difficult field to practice in. I have purely written this post on the economic prospects of being a chiropractor for a prospective medical student. Don't do it.
The admission standards for chiropractic school are non-existant. There are no admission interviews, and a student can get accepted with a 2.5 GPA. While chiropractors take many of the same classes as M.D.s, the scope and difficulty of their classes does not even remotely compare (except for anatomy, which chiropractors have good training in). Chiropractic schools have to have such low standards because the schools are run completely on loan money. They need the influx of students to keep the schools in business. Enrollment at chiropractic schools has been down, so the admission standards have been lowered. Would you want to go to a school with this kind of brain drain? Finally, I do want to mention that I did have some very bright classmates. Some of my classmates did have 4.0 GPAs and entered chiropractic because they were passionate about it. However, these exceptional students are greatly outnumbered by the students who do not care about academics. There is a saying in chiropractic schools that 'Ds and Cs make a D.C.' There is actually some truth to this statement.
With the new doctorate in Physical Therapy, physical therapists are beginning to market for much of the same patient base as chiropractors. Doctors in Physical Therapy are also activing lobbying to gave rights to perform physical manipulation like chiropractors do. If you are interested in chiropractic, avoid it all costs and become an osteopath or a doctor in physical therapy.
If anyone has actually read this far I have posted another similar prospective from a different chiropractic graduate. He actually has had a more difficult time than even I did. Read his words and heed them carefully.
The Truth from a new-grad Chiropractor
Here is the absolute bottom line for those of you searching information on the internet and trying to decide whether or not you want to become a chiropractor. I graduated in 2008 with $150,000 in student debt from Parker College in Dallas, TX. Sounds like a lot, huh? That 150K is primary, no interest accounted for. Parker is now the most EXPENSIVE chiropractic college in the nation.
After all that time (you'll spend anywhere from 3 to 4 years in undergrad and then at least 3 years for chiropractic school) and all that amounting debt (gaining interest, too!) So, you must be thinking I've got an incredible job and everything is peachy-keen, right? I landed a job right before graduation with a chiropractor who's respected as one of the most efficient and effective Musculoskeletal clinicians in the state.
My pay? $26,000 per year. The only benefit is I don't have to go through the humiliation of spinal screenings or suckering people into becoming patients at the local Big Lots. Of course there are better jobs out there, even chiropractic jobs, but the average is about 32,000 per year for new graduates. If you aren't making what you spent on school every year, you made a POOR INVESTMENT, and the vast majority of chiropractors don't make 150K, even after decades of experience.
I could have just saved the time and money I spent on schooling and gone as a high-school graduate to work at Home Depot and I would STILL be making more. I feel humiliated, mislead, and bitter EVERY DAY. My chiropractic prospects are very limited despite just entering the medical work force. My wife and I have a new baby and I can't provide to pay for housing and food, so we have almost $10,000 in credit card debt, without hope of being able to pay it off anytime soon. The only way to make any amount of money in chiropractic is to open your own practice and what bank would loan money to a young person with $150K in debt??? If you really like manipulation, go to DO school or PT school... Please, please, please stay away from chiropractic school. It will ruin your life."
Ruin is a harsh word but whoever authored this post in a forum I came across doing some research is a snippit of the harsh reality that it is to be a successful graduate of a rather grueling and expensive career path! THIS IS REALITY! My husband, of who I gave my full support, ignored these types of things like thousands of eager new admits continue to do 3 times a year in colleges all across the country!! It is disgusting. It does potentially ruin ones life because these noble students almost max out their student borrowing capabilities, are shunned by mainstream health care providers as step children of the industry, and are last to be interviewed for alternative venues to share their thorough knowledge in education circles being subject to entry level jobs just to provide themselves with the basic necessities of life! I know many, many marriages don't survive the extensive schooling let alone the aftermath that is the harsh reality that follows! In the words of the great Tammy Wynette, "Stand by your man" because a good marriage beats the alternative!!