Chiropractic vs Acupuncture: Career ROI

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Chiropractic vs Acupuncture - featured image

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Chiropractic and Acupuncture are both part of the holistic, natural medicine family. While their functions are complementary, emphasizing enhancing health and well-being, their distinctions run much deeper.

Chiropractic care involves manipulating the spine and musculoskeletal system to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and promote health. It uses manual techniques to correct misalignments. On the other hand, Acupuncture is a traditional practice of Chinese medicine. It uses needles to stimulate energy flow, aiming to restore balance and address health issues.

Chiropractic vs Acupuncture - fact

This article briefly discusses the differences between these two practices. We will explore their philosophies, techniques, and potential outcomes to help you decide which modality resonates most deeply with your interests. 

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

What is Chiropractic?

What is Chiropractic - Image

The objective of Chiropractic care is to optimize the body’s functioning. The basic idea is that a healthy nervous system enhances your body’s capacity for self-healing and optimal function. Anybody at any stage of life can benefit from a healthy spine and neurological system, regardless of age, condition, presence, or symptoms.

In 1897, Daniel David Palmer performed the first Chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard, believing that the proper alignment of the spine is a must for overall health and well-being. It marked the beginning of Chiropractic’s development and title as a distinct healthcare profession.

Chiropractic Methods and Techniques

Chiropractors primarily focus on the alignment of the spine and musculoskeletal system. They use hands-on spinal manipulation and other manual adjustments to realign the body’s structure, aiming to improve mobility, reduce pain, and promote natural healing. Other types of techniques used in Chiropractic include:

Chiropractic Education and Training

Chiropractors dedicate seven to eight years to their studies and training. The first step to pursuing a Chiropractic career is to obtain an undergraduate degree. A bachelor’s degree in science is required, preferably in a medical scientific discipline.

After completing your bachelor’s, a would-be chiropractic professional should:

  1. Attend Chiropractic school to learn Anatomy, Physiology, Neurology, and other Human Biology courses.
  2. Take practical courses for healing techniques.
  3. Maintain good academic standing for the licensing exam and continue your Chiropractic career.

You must pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) certification exam, which consists of four parts and evaluates both scientific knowledge and practical skills.

Similar to Physical Therapy, Chiropractic focuses on exercises and non-surgical techniques that improve strength or motion non-surgical techniques to help you move better and feel better. To practice, PT and Chiropractic graduates must pass a licensing or Board examination.

Chiropractic Career and Salary Outlook

Chiropractic employment is expected to grow 9% from 2022 to 2032, driven by growing interest in integrative healthcare. The non-surgical approach of chiropractors, which does not prescribe drugs, has gained acceptance due to research and changing attitudes. Chiropractors have a median annual wage of $75,380

The aging baby-boom generation presents new opportunities for chiropractors, as older adults are more likely to have neuromusculoskeletal and joint problems. Demand for Chiropractic treatment depends on the patient’s ability to pay directly or through health insurance.

A Chiropractic career is for you if:

A Chiropractic career is Not A Great Fit if:

What is Acupuncture?

What is Acupuncture - Image

Acupuncture is a Chinese medicine treatment that focuses on the flow of qi, a life force, through energy pathways in the body. It is believed to create health and wellness by keeping the balance of yin and yang, which are complementary opposites in nature.

Acupuncture, dating back to 200 BCE, gained popularity in the US after President Nixon visited China in 1972. The US National Institutes of Health recognized Acupuncture in 1997 for its safety and efficacy in treating various health conditions.

Acupuncture Methods and Techniques

Hair-thin needles are used in Acupuncture treatments, and some say that the needle insertion causes a slight discomfort at the beginning. The point at which the needle is inserted causes an ache or pressure feeling. During the procedure, needles may be heated or exposed to a small amount of electric current. 

Some claim that receiving Acupuncture gives them more energy. Some claim to be at ease.

Other forms of stimulation are occasionally applied over the Acupuncture points in place of needles, such as:

Acupuncture Education and Training

Acupuncture schools don’t often require their applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a medical-related field. However, a degree in healthcare can be beneficial when applying for a master’s degree in Acupuncture to increase your chances of admission. Obtain a Doctorate of Acupuncture degree to cement your expertise in alternative medicine.

Before pursuing any Acupuncture degree, you must ensure that the school/program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine.

Several states require acupuncturists to obtain licensure. But even if your state doesn’t, you should still pursue a license for insurance reimbursement purposes. Plus, most employers require a license. 

You must take the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam and pass to obtain a license.

Acupuncture Career and Salary Outlook

On average, acupuncturists make $82,390 annually. They are primarily self-employed, working from home or visiting patients. They work at private healthcare centers or for companies to enhance employee potential.

Part-time work may be available through NHS or GP practices, but these are limited and uncommon. Limited part-time work may also be available in hospices or care homes.

Establishing a practice can increase your salary due to increased session charges and a larger client base, potentially influenced by connections with GP practices and healthcare professionals.

An Acupuncturist career is for you if:

An Acupuncturist career is Not A Great Fit if:

Key Differences: Chiropractic vs Acupuncture

Key Differences - Chiropractic vs Acupuncture - Image

To help you decide on your career path, explore how these two fields differ!

PhilosophyFocuses on optimizing the body’s functioning by maintaining proper spinal alignment and nervous system health.Seeks to balance the flow of qi (life force) through energy pathways in the body and restore harmony between yin and yang in promoting health and wellness.
TechniquesInvolves manual adjustments of the spine and musculoskeletal system to correct misalignments, improve mobility, and alleviate pain.Mainly uses hair-thin needles inserted into specific bodily points to stimulate the flow of flow and restore balance. 
Conditions TreatedCommonly treat musculoskeletal issues such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, and joint problems.Treat a wider range of conditions, both physical and emotional, such as allergic asthma, nausea and vomiting, headache and migraine, and menstrual cramps.
Average Salary$75,380$82,390
Education and Training Undergraduate in a healthcare fieldDoctorate in ChiropracticLicensing examAny undergraduate degree or Master’s in Acupuncture Licensing (optional in most states)

What Chiropractic and Acupuncture Are Good For

What Chiropractic and Acupuncture Are Good For - Image



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