13 Pros and Cons of Being a Chiropractor

Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

What do you think of when you hear the word "chiropractor?" If you've never heard that term before, then it might sound like a scary medical profession. However, it is not. Chiropractors are highly trained professionals who help people heal from injuries and chronic health conditions such as headaches and back pain. Sounds like a pretty interesting career path, but do you know what are the pros and cons of being a chiropractor? In this article, we'll explore the top 13 pros and cons of being a chiropractor, as well as what they do and where they work so that you can decide if this is the right career path for you!

What is a Chiropractor?

Chiropractors are highly-trained medical professionals who help people heal from injuries and chronic health conditions through natural treatments such as massage therapy, physical rehabilitation exercises, nutritional advice, and spinal adjustments using their hands or a tool called an activator. In addition to working in a clinical setting with patients, chiropractors also work at wellness centers and fitness facilities such as yoga studios or gyms that offer massage therapy services to name a few.

Top Cons of Being a Chiropractor

(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being a Chiropractor.)

1. You will first need to earn an undergraduate degree.

The first step in pursuing a career as a chiropractor is that you will have to earn a bachelor's degree. The undergraduate degree needed to be a chiropractor is typically an undergraduate program in human biology. Coursework includes classes in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and office administration. The courses vary depending on the college or university where you are enrolled. It usually takes four years (eight semesters) to finish your undergraduate work. So, if science is not your forte, then this will definitely be one of the disadvantages of being a chiropractor. I would suggest for you to move on because this is not the career for you.

2. You will need to earn a Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree.

The doctorate of chiropractic degree is a post-graduate level training that you will have to pursue next. The schooling generally takes around four years to complete, but this can vary depending on the program you choose and your individual learning style. This degree takes many years to earn, but it allows for you to be seen as an expert in this field. You will have to decide if all that schooling is worth being called an “expert”.

3. You may need to complete an internship.

The next step towards becoming a chiropractor is completing an internship. To become licensed, most states require an internship in which students complete several courses and rotations at different facilities under the supervision of experienced chiropractors. This usually takes place after you have gone through several years of training, and it will allow you to get hands-on experience in your field before you can start practicing on your own. Essentially if you break it down, you are working for free.

4. The cost of becoming a chiropractor will add up quickly.

It will cost you around $120,000 to become a chiropractor. This figure will cover the tuition and fees as well as living expenses such as rent, groceries, clothing, etc. Additional books and other supplies will also be required during this time, bringing up your total sum very quickly. Becoming a chiropractor requires years of school time and substantial financial investment even before you will get your first paycheck from work as a chiropractor. So, in a nutshell, while evaluating the pros and cons of being a chiropractor, you will need to decide if the upfront cost of your education will be worth waiting for your paycheck in the end.

5. How do you plan on paying for your education?

It's a sad day when you have to turn down on some of your dreams because it is just not feasible due to finances. In today's world, having an education has become one of the most important things that people can do for themselves and their families. That being said, going through chiropractic school usually means taking on student loans which put many college students in debt. This debt that you can potentially acquire due to taking out loans is one of the top disadvantages of being a chiropractor. This can cause severe financial trouble for you when it comes to paying off your loans later in life. When taking out a loan of any kind, you are putting yourself into the hands of another entity that may not have your best interest at heart.

6. You must pass a licensing exam.

Licensing exams are the last step in achieving your goal of becoming a licensed chiropractor. These tests can be grueling, challenging, and downright scary! This is not an easy exam to pass. It is essential to know that each state has different requirements for licensing. Some only ask chiropractors to pass this exam, while others require continuing education credits as well.

7. You may need continuing education credits.

If you want to become a chiropractor, it is crucial that you have the proper continuing education courses. Some states require this for licensure, and others do not; however, most schools will require some form of continuing education for graduation and sitting for your license exam. Several different types of courses are available, including online classes (which can be cheaper) or live lectures (which may be more convenient). If you are in a state that requires continuing education, be sure to check with your school or the licensing board of chiropractic professionals. While weighing the pros and cons of being a chiropractor you will need to consider if more education in the form of continuing education credits is worth it. On the pro side you are keeping up with the changes and education in your discipline, but on the con side, these continuing education requirements will cost you more time and money that you may not have.

8. You will have to renew your license

Each state has its own requirements of how often you need to renew your license as a chiropractor. Each state also has set there own requirements of if and how many continuing education credits you will need to renew your chiropractor license. For example, in Michigan, you must renew your license every two years. In the state of New York, you will be required to complete 36 contact hours of continuing education in each three-year registration period.

9. Your license will have very little reciprocity

Once you pass your license to become a chiropractor, you can practice anywhere, right? No, you cannot. Few states will allow for reciprocity, where others do not. If the state does not allow for reciprocity, then you will have to sit for that state’s licensing exam in order to be able to practice in that state. Not being able to freely work in any state you want is one of the biggest disadvantages of being a chiropractor. This may hinder you from pursuing other dreams you have due to the fact that if you were to relocate, you may have to take another licensing exam.

10. You can be sued

As a chiropractor, you are legally responsible for the treatment of all patients. If something goes wrong during your patient's appointment that causes more pain or an injury to occur, you may be sued. Your legal responsibility doesn't stop there either, and this ruling also applies to anyone who works under your supervision at your practice too.

11. You are taking on a great deal of responsibility

As a chiropractor provider, it is your responsibility to be aware, knowledgeable, and vigilant about your professional and ethical responsibilities. As a provider of chiropractic care, it is your responsibility to always act in the best interest of your patients. This means that you must do all within your power to act with honesty and integrity at every juncture while also adhering to professional standards set forth by both state and federal regulations. If you do not, even unintentionally, you may face serious repercussions. Some of these repercussions can be as serious as having your license suspended or stripped. If that were to happen, how would you support yourself and your family?

12. You will not be able to work from home via the internet.

One of the cons of being a chiropractor is that you will not be able to work from home. This is because people often need an office setting for their treatment. A chiropractor's treatments are hands-on. A chiropractor may also have to take X-rays which can definitely not be done from home. Also, some insurance companies will not pay unless patients are seen at your office. You will need to build rapport with patients and it would be challenging to do over the internet.

13. You can have a pretty physically demanding job

You might be thinking of the job as a chiropractor to be pretty straightforward, but it's actually quite physically demanding. You'll find yourself on your feet all day long. One of the major disadvantages of being a chiropractor is the heavy lifting involved with moving patients around. While you may think that chiropractic work is all about making people feel better, the reality of your job will be very physical. Not only are you required to do a lot of lifting and moving around of patients who cannot get up or move on their own, but there's also plenty of maneuvering involved in different treatment methods. If you don't feel good about your physical strength, chiropractic work is not for you.

Top Pros of Being a Chiropractor

(The following are the top 13 advantages of being a Chiropractor.)

1. You can make a great living.

As a chiropractor, you can expect to make a good living. The earning potential that you will have is one of the top advantages of being a chiropractor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chiropractors in the US earn a median salary of $70,720 per year. Actual salaries will vary based on location, years of experience, and a variety of other factors. The highest 10 percent of chiropractors earned more than $137,950. That is a pretty nice figure.

2. You will have job security.

Employment change will continue to trend upward due to employers, insurers, and consumers' increased emphasis on health and well-being. Factors fueling demand include increasing insurance coverage for services provided by chiropractors since the institution of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and an aging U.S. population with more comorbidities. These factors will aid in the steady job growth of 4% for chiropractors. Knowing that you will always have a job will be one of the biggest advantages of being a chiropractor.

3. There are numerous settings you can work in

Chiropractic care can be practiced in many workplace settings, including private practice, hospitals, clinics, and senior living centers. Other places that you may see a chiropractor being employed are wellness centers and fitness facilities such as yoga studios or gyms that offer massage therapy services. Having so much variety when it comes to where you work is beneficial to you because if you do not like one setting, there are so many others that you can work in. Keep in mind while analyzing the pros and cons of being a chiropractor, that yes you have various settings you can work in, but the con is that a job must be available for you to take.

4. You can work independently.

As a chiropractor, you will not be micromanaged. You will have autonomy in how you will practice and also have the ability to make decisions about the care of your patients. As a chiropractor, you will not be taking orders from somebody and you will not be overruled in decisions you make regarding your patients.

5. You can be your own boss.

A chiropractic practice can be a very successful and rewarding business. It's also one of the few places where you get to call all the shots. You get to decide how much or how little work you want to do, how your fees will be structured, and what procedures your office will offer. I don’t know about you, but I think this is definitely one of the pros of being a chiropractor.

6. You help people feel better.

For many people, chiropractors help them get back to feeling their best. Knowing that you have taken away a person’s pain and have restored them to better functioning will make you feel great about the work you are doing, making this one of the top pros of being a chiropractor. You will also have the ability to help your patients avoid future injuries through your education and experience.

7. You could have a pretty nice schedule.

Chiropractors work full days, but there is no set schedule. As a chiropractor, you will have the ability to set your own hours, work seasonal hours, and more. Many chiropractors choose to practice part-time - maybe only Monday through Friday during the day. Others decide to practice later in the evening since many people with injuries are unable to work during their treatment periods. Some chiropractors will choose to work full-time. It will depend on your needs and your patient’s needs what your hours will be. Being able to manipulate your schedule is one of the advantages of being a chiropractor.

8. Relatively short training to start your career as compared to other healthcare professionals.

Chiropractors have a short training period compared to others in the healthcare setting. The benefit of this shorter training period will enable you to join the workforce sooner. If you are able to work sooner, then you can earn money and experience earlier in your career.

9. You will have a well-respected career.

As a chiropractor, you will have a well-respected career. You are expertly trained to offer much more than just help with neck and back pain. You are trained in physical, mental, and holistic health. Every day you will work with people to enhance their lives through improved well-being. Many Chiropractors become teachers, lecturers, or authors, so you can expect to use your skills outside the consulting room.

10. You can choose to work in different types of chiropractic care.

General chiropractic care is the most usual form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic. It focuses on neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other musculoskeletal issues. These types of problems are prevalent, and people seek help for them all the time. Different types of chiropractic care that you could practice include pediatric chiropractic, rehabilitation therapy, sports injury care, and others. You can choose to work in one specific area of healthcare or venture out and try different ones till you find the perfect fit. For example, you could spend most of your time working with injured athletes or children with developmental delays.

11. You can complete your state-required continuing education credits online.

As a chiropractor, you can complete your continuing education requirements for the state online. This is one of the pros of being a chiropractor because you will be able to complete these courses at your own pace. You can therefore organize your study schedule in order to fit in around your work and family life.

12. You will have autonomy in your practice

One of the benefits of being a chiropractor is the ability to have so much autonomy in your practice. You can do that by making your own care decisions, not being micromanaged, and having the ability to interact with other healthcare practitioners to help provide a patient-centered approach. Having autonomy in your practice is one of the reasons many chiropractors have been attracted to this profession since its inception over 100 years ago.

13. Your day will be filled with a variety

One of the advantages of being a chiropractor is that you will never be bored. Every day is entirely different. Also, because it is a very small field, there are not many chiropractors, so you get to know your patients on more than just the primary level. You will see all kinds of people and won't struggle with feeling under-stimulated. You never get bored because every person has their own story.

The Bottom Line

So, what are the pros and cons of being a chiropractor? There are many pros and cons to being a chiropractor, but ultimately you will need to decide if this is the career for you. However, it’s helpful to know what those positives and negatives are before making your decision. The top 13 pros and cons of being a chiropractor l listed above include some of the benefits for someone in this profession, as well as some disadvantages that come with working in this industry. It would be best if you always did what's best for you. If being a chiropractor is the right career path, then go for it, but if not, don't worry, there are plenty of other opportunities out there waiting to be discovered!

Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.