Chiropractors and physicians are both well-paid medical professionals. Your view of the pros and cons of each job may affect which path to take in your education. The good news is that jobs in virtually all medical fields are in high demand, as baby boomers are in retirement and require medical care.
Relative to most professions, chiropractors complete a lot of education. Relative to doctors, the requirements are significantly less. Both physicians and chiropractors must complete four-year advanced degrees. The chiropractor needs a doctor of chiropractic, or DC degree. You don't have to complete any formal internships or residency work to earn your license, though. Physicians normally have to complete three or more years of internships and residencies to become fully licensed to practice in all 50 states.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected chiropractor job growth at 28 percent from 2010 to 2020. Median annual pay in 2010 was $67,200, though this is substantially below what physicians make. Chiropractors also still face some stigma from other medical professionals as well as consumers about the value of chiropractic care. In an August 2009 "Chicago Tribune" interview with Dr. Ralph Gay, who is both a chiropractor and a physician, Gay noted that chiropractors should be better at self-policing and some have a reputation for depending on patients' return visits.
Physicians typically have much higher earning potential than chiropractors. While pay varies depending on practice size, location and physician type, the BLS indicated a median annual salary of $166,400 for physicians and surgeons as of May 2010. Physicians are able to provide a much broader range of health-care services. Along with diagnosis and treatment, physicians can prescribe medications, which chiropractors can't. They also hold a more credible status within the medical field and society in general, according to Gay.
Physicians usually deal with much more stressful work environments. Chiropractors often run their own offices, work regularly scheduled hours, and don't have many emergencies to deal with. On the contrary, physicians often work long hours and are on-call at local hospitals. They deal with more stressful health and injury situations, often in urgent or emergency conditions. Some specialty fields require up to 8 years of residency.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.