Chiropractor Vs. Medical Doctor Comparison: Education & Salary

May 30, 2020

Comparing Chiropractors to Medical Doctors

Chiropractors and medical doctors are medical professionals who examine, diagnose and treat patients. Medical doctors earn a significantly higher salary than chiropractors and are predicted to experience more job growth through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More extensive training is required for medical doctors than for chiropractors.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2019)* Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Chiropractors Professional degree $70,340 7%
Medical Doctors Professional degree $213,270 (family and general practitioners) 10% (family and general practitioners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Chiropractors vs. Medical Doctors

Some of the general duties that chiropractors and medical doctors perform are very similar because they both see patients and evaluate their conditions. Each of these professionals may refer patients to specialists when they think it's necessary, and they both do other routine tasks, such as keeping records of their appointments and treatments. Chiropractors only focus on issues with the neuromusculoskeletal system, and they treat patients by making physical adjustments to their spine and other parts of the body as needed. Medical doctors treat patients through a wide range of tasks that include prescribing medication, providing vaccinations and setting bones.


Chiropractors treat patients who have issues with the parts of their body that make up the neuromusculoskeletal system. They must have strength and dexterity because their work involves physically adjusting parts of the patient's body. The majority of chiropractors work in medical offices during regular daytime hours, while some may include evening and weekend hours in their schedules. Although travel isn't always required, chiropractors may occasionally perform treatments in the patient's home. Because they are dealing with patients on a regular basis, strong interpersonal and communication skills are important. They must earn a professional degree in their field and a license. The training time may be extended for those who attend postgraduate programs at chiropractic colleges to earn diplomate credentials in specialty areas, like pediatrics or orthopedics.

Job responsibilities of a chiropractor include:

  • Ordering medical tests
  • Identifying medical issues affecting the patient
  • Updating medical files
  • Educating patients about health issues
  • Fitting braces and other supports for pain relief

Medical Doctors

Medical doctors are also known as family and general practitioners. They typically work in medical offices or clinics and have regular patients to whom they provide healthcare services. Compassion and good communication skills are essential because their work involves building a rapport with patients who they will treat over the course of several years. They also need to have good problem-solving skills so that they can effectively identify medical issues that are affecting their patients. While they may be more likely to work daytime and some evening hours because they primarily see patients during scheduled appointments, they may also be responsible for being on call at times. They must graduate from medical school, have a medical license and complete a residency program in order to work in their field.

Job responsibilities of a medical doctor include:

  • Updating patient records
  • Sending patients for medical tests
  • Providing general healthcare information
  • Prescribing medications
  • Working toward prevention of injuries and disease

Related Careers

If a career as a chiropractor sounds appealing, then the work that physical therapists do may also be worth exploring because they work with patients suffering from pain or conditions that have affected their ability to move. The work that health nurse practitioners do may also appeal to those considering a career as a medical doctor, since health nurse practitioners can see patients, diagnose their conditions and determine the best treatments.

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