9 July 2011, by tpotisk
Chiropractor salaries and incomes are extremely variable. I know some Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) who earn very little, and I know some who make millions, and I know many that make the average which according to 2 good sources is between $94,000 and $120,000 per year.
Why the extreme variation in chiropractor’s incomes?
#1) This is common amongst professions like chiropractic that have a high percentage of self employment. The same variability occurs in the fields of dentistry and law. The harder the professional works the more they make.
#2) The doctors overhead expenses are also variable. Some DCs run a high overhead practice, perhaps with multiple staff, multiple doctors, and large office spaces, while others practice solo with perhaps 1 or 2 staff in a small setting.
#3) Some DCs offer multiple services to their patients while others have a more simplistic and uniform billing system. This “case average” varies tremendously and also and has a profound effect on income.
#4) Many DCs continue to practice a few hours per week long into typical retirement years and earn very little, mostly because of their love for the profession. This skews the average salary lower.
I assume there are 2 types of readers of this article. One type is perhaps a student considering chiropractic as a career. The other type is an established DC looking for information to either compare their own salary to others or are looking for ways to boost their salary. I have advice for both below.
If you are a prospective chiropractor you must first understand what chiropractic is. It is a science art and philosophy of things natural and holistic specifically focusing on the human body’s inborn ability to get and be healthy. Chiropractor’s understand that the nervous system controls and coordinates all body systems and functions either directly or indirectly, and that misalignment of spinal structure causes interference or blockage of the nerve inpulses. This is called vertebral subluxation. Chiropractors correct this with adjustments. The safety, cost effectiveness and high patient satisfaction is well established.
Because of the high level of art in the profession, particularly the hands-on aspect of the detection and correction of the subluxation, there exists a high variability of the services and charges. To me, as a DC for over 25 years, this “high level of art” and it’s complications are an attribute not a detriment. The art has been virtually minimized if not eliminated from conventional medicine, much to their demise.
Thus, prospective chiropractors should not be dismayed by the variability of chiropractic salaries, as it is very justified.
For those of you readers who are comparing salaries with peers or seeking to improve their own salary, I offer the following:
1) Compare and despair. Because of the high variability in practice styles, billing, sizes, etc it is near impossible to get an accurate comparison. Likely, one will find disappointment in comparing, especially with inaccurate information. So, realize that the average salary does not mean much. Do not let it discourage you.
2) Most of the DCs that have much higher than normal incomes have several common characteristics. They generally do a lot of marketing to attract large volumes of patients. They generally employ multiple doctors and profit from them. They generally are sincerely dedicated to helping others, and love people. All of these characteristics can be improved upon if you are lacking them.
3) It’s nearly impossible to be both a busy, loving, caring doctor and good manager. The 2 conflict with each other. So most of the highly successful DCs have management either in the form of an employed manager or they subscribe to coaching/management services so they can focus their efforts on being exceptional doctors.
Patients want doctors that enjoy what they are doing.Therefore, doctors seeking to improve their incomes can do so by improving themselves and reclaiming the joy of practice, particularly by focusing on being an excellent doctor, and let somebody else focus on the practice management.
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