Statistics can certainly be misleading and when you analyze the average income of chiropractors, they are certainly no exception. But, because your salary is so important to you – whether you are the owner of your own practice or an associate – we’re going to crunch some numbers so you can see where you stand compared to your chiropractic peers.
The “Average Income of Chiropractors” According to the BLS
We will begin with what amounts to the most “official” source of salary stats which comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics. (By the way, instant apologies to our chiropractic readers from around the globe whose compensation would NOT be counted here. Unfortunately, I have not seen any reputable sources citing worldwide compensation info for DC’s.)
According to the BLS, the median wage of a chiropractor is $68,640. This figure was last updated April 2018 and has not changed (yet) since our previous post on salary stats: How Much Do Chiropractors Really Make?.
Of course, if you suffered through statistics prior to entering chiropractic school, “median” is a fancy term for in the middle, so obviously there are chiropractors whose income lands on both sides of that number.
So if you move beyond the average income of chiropractors to ask yourself the question: “Do chiropractors make good money?” then the answer may lie in which part of the graph you focus on. Again, citing the BLS, the lowest percentile (bottom 10%) of chiropractic income shows an annual wage of approximately $34,550 whereas the 90th percentile boasts an income of $144,730.
To keep it super simple, if you make six-figures as a chiropractor, you are in the top 25% of income earners in the chiropractic profession according to BLS statistics.
The Average Income of Chiropractors – For Associates
While the BLS may have the most accurately referenced data when it comes to estimating the average income of chiropractors, there are certainly additional sources that can be considered.
For example, Glass Door gives insight into Associate Chiropractor salaries (as it is a website dedicated to employee-generated reviews). According to Glassdoor, chiropractic salaries range from a low of $40,000 to a high of $104,000 — with the average income of chiropractors coming in at $58,318 (as of March 2019). Unfortunately, this is based on only 203 user-generated reviews.
Similarly, according to Indeed (a popular online job search website) the average income of chiropractors was $63,742 and they recorded a range from a low of $14,000 to a high of $148,000 from 1965 employees, users, past and present job advertisements that were placed on Indeed. It’s again likely that these are salaries for Associate chiropractors because Indeed is a job search site and unfortunately, there’s no distinction made between full and part-time work (which may explain the low end of the salary scale).
ZipRecruiter functions similarly to Indeed as an online job search platform. Their figures (which are also likely geared towards Chiropractic Associates) come in at a low of $22,500 and a high of $99,500 — with the average income of chiropractors stated as $66,379 (as of April 2019). The data here is similar to Indeed, except that Zip Recruiter does break income down by states as well.
Other Sources Estimating the Average Income of Chiropractors
To get a broader picture of the data, you could also look beyond what’s been discussed above to estimate the average income of chiropractors and dive into some of our professions publications.U
If you start with peer-reviewed journals, you’ll find only a small study published in JMPT in February 2018 looking at 37 chiropractors in the private sector healthcare system. In this study, JMPT found a median chiropractor salary of $112,000 – with the range going from $40k to $255k. However, conclusions are obviously limited by the small sample size.
Although not a peer reviewed journal, Chiropractic Economics publishes an annual Salary & Reimbursement Survey that does provide useful data from a broad spectrum of the profession – including both owners and associate chiropractors. According to the 2018 survey, the average income of chiropractors was $107,310 – which increased from $101,734 in 2017. This survey was based on nearly 500 responses and from the significantly higher figure than BLS data, is likely to be more skewed towards assessing the average income of chiropractors who own their practice vs associate (but it certainly can include both).
The Impact of These Stats for Chiropractic Business Owners
One measuring stick you can look at is how your income as a practice owner stacks up. You are taking the risk as the business owner, you are putting in the long hours, your name is on the door. Your rewards, at least from the financial perspective, should make it all worthwhile.
Similarly, if you have an associate doctor that you are employing, it’s important to know where their salary stands. I speak to owners all the time who are seeking to hire an associate and feel that they should be able to do so for $2500-$3000 per month. Or worse, no salary and a straight percentage from the start which makes it an extremely difficult situation for an associate to thrive in (and for you, as owner, to find a decent DC).
On the other side of the fence, there are Owners overpaying their underproducing and ungrateful Associate doctor. Some of these docs essentially have a fantastically paid vacation doctor that allows them to leave the office a couple times to the tune of $72,000 per year (quite an expensive vacation). The Associate brings in zero new patients, has zero responsibility for anything in the office and shows up to adjust the Owner’s patients. Their production is below average, yet they are making a wage that exceeds the average income of chiropractors — which (by the way) includes those who own their own practices!
What Chiropractic Associates Need to Understand About Their Salary
For an Associate relationship to endure the test of time, the wage needs to be fair to both parties. If the Owner pays a salary that ends up “breaking even” after the Associate’s Compensation, Payroll, Taxes & Overhead relative to what the Associate brings in – the employment won’t last long. Missing from the equation is the Owner’s profit and after a while, the Owner will figure out they they are deriving little to no benefit from employing the Associate.
Of course, the Associate who is being paid $30,000 per year and producing $300,000 worth of collections may be seriously underpaid. And this type of relationship won’t last either, as the Associate will feel that they are contributing way too much in exchange for too little income.
Be Careful with the Average Income of Chiropractors
One additional point to consider is to tread cautiously with the term “average.” I’ve heard DC’s moan that they are paid less than average.
While that may be true, these same DC’s may work fewer hours, have less responsibility and contribute little or nothing to the growth of the practice. To be blunt, they are less than average employees.
Practice Owners can fall into the same trap in two ways. On the front end, they pay their Associates less than the average income of chiropractors but on the back end, they expect more.
And sometimes, the finger points at the man or woman in the mirror who is unsatisfied with the compensation they make as the practice owner. But they do zero marketing, work relatively few hours, don’t want to engage in any activities that will grow their business. Therefore, their compensation is a reflection of that.
I do sincerely believe that no one enters the chiropractic profession to be “average” by any definition. You started to change lives – your patients and your own. So, hopefully, this brief look at the average income of chiropractors will spur you on to do just that!
If you are an Associate are not satisfied with the salary you make, it may be time for a change. Checking out our FREE webinar: Buy, Build or Break Up: How to Make Your Next Best Move to Purchase a Chiropractic Practice, Start One From Scratch or Find a New Associate Job.
Perhaps you are already sure it’s time to move towards ownership and you need to find a practice to purchase. Then sign up for our FREE Practice Match service so that we can help you find a practice that will help you reach your chiropractic goals!
Finally, you are on the other side of the fence and looking to HIRE a chiropractic associate as part of your exit strategy (& income boost) or move towards a transition or sale of your practice — then you should consider viewing our FREE Webinar: Sell, Switch or Slow Down: How to Maximize the Value of Your Chiropractic Practice Sale or Transition and Minimize Costly Mistakes