Number of Chiropractors in Practice
©1963, Samuel Homola, D.C.
It is difficult to determine the actual number of practicing chiropractors. Most chiropractic literature refers to “25,000 licensed chiropractors.” An October, 1959, article on chiropractic in McCall’s magazine, for example, stated that there are “30,000 chiropractors.” Not every licensed chiropractor is a practicing chiropractor, however. Dividing the conglomeration of chiropractic technics among practicing chiropractors has taken its toll of practitioners as well as its toll of chiropractic colleges. The practice failure among newly-graduated chiropractors is extremely high, partly because of the lack of recognition and reciprocity with other healing arts, and partly because of the severe economic competition between chiropractors adhering to one school of thought or another. One chiropractic publication stated that 54% of all chiropractic graduates fail during the first year of practice 
A January, 1960, chiropractic publication stated that there were 30,000 chiropractors practicing in 1930, and that this figure had dwindled to less than 20,000. “At one time or another there have been 88, yes, 88 Chiropractic colleges,” the publication advised. “Today, there are 17 in existence. Our schools are dying, our numbers are decreasing and yet we remain in our ivory towers, ignorant in our bliss, apathetic in our attitudes, refusing to see and to admit that we are a dying profession and worse yet unwilling to do anything about it.” 
It is difficult to understand why figures on the number of chiropractic colleges and chiropractic practitioners will differ so markedly from one source to another, or even from the same source from time to time. In trying to determine the actual number of practicing chiropractors, one would probably inquire first of licensing boards in each state. This may not give a correct count, however, since a good number of chiropractors apparently fail to succeed in practice and, as a result, go into other fields of work. Licenses are often maintained in a state by such practitioners, along with those retired. In California in 1958, the state with the largest number of chiropractors, only 54% of more than 4,000 licensed chiropractors were in full-time practice, with some 23% of the total number in part-time practice. 
Figures compiled by the Bureau of the Census would probably give the most accurate count of the number of chiropractors.
The 1930 census report stated that there were 11,916 chiropractors designated as “gainful workers.” In 1940, this figure had decreased to 10,629 “employed” chiropractors. In 1950, however, the census reported that there were 13,091 chiropractors in the experienced civilian labor force (the National Chiropractic Association reported that there were more than 20,000 licensed chiropractors). According to prepublication reports released in December of 1962, the 1960 census counted 14,360 chiropractors in the “experienced civilian labor force” (which includes both employed and unemployed practitioners), showing a 9.7% increase over the 1950 figures.
- 1. Nimmo RL. The Receptor. Volume 1, Number 4, 1959.
- 2. Fountain Head News. Palmer School of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa, January, 1960.
- 3. Chiropractic in California. Los Angeles: Stanford Research Institute and the Haynes Foundation, 1960.