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Everyone it seems has had a bad back at some point in their lives. Athletes limp off the field, dancers fall off the stage, and office workers sit on their butts all day.

Bad backs and spine injuries are in, so you might as well make some money off of pained Americans.

More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain at a cost of around $600 billion a year in medical treatments and lost productivity, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine

Many people in pain seek out medical docs, but others prefer the ‘natural’ approach and reach out to chiropractors, massage therapists and others who prefer non-surgical remedies.

The Department of Labor has predicted that, “employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. People across all age groups are increasingly becoming interested in chiropractic care, because chiropractors use nonsurgical methods of treatment and do not prescribe drugs.’

You might think you see a chiropractor office on every street corner, but there were only about 27,740 employed chiropractors in the United States as of 2012. The lower 10% of the population of chiropractors earn $14.92 per hour, equivalent to $31,030 per year, while 90% of the population earns $68.73 per hour or $142,950 per year. California chiropractors earn on average, $78,800 per year.

Marc Norwich of Alpine is looking to open his own chiropractic office after graduating from Palmer School of Chiropractic in San Jose.

“The thing about having a degree in chiropractic is that you can’t just put out a sign and have a line of patients out the door,” Norwich said. ‘It takes time and you have to pay your dues. I hope to have my own practice within four years. But for now, I’ll work for someone else and learn as much as I can so I can have a long-lasting career working for my patients and myself.”

The average tuition cost for chiropractic learning is between $50,000 – $130,000, depending on the type of program you apply for, and the college you chose. It will also take an average of six to eight years before you can train for chiropractic and then apply for licensure exams. You won’t become a medical doctor but after the bill for your education, it might seem like you are a doctor

Massage therapy is always an option if you still want to touch people and you don’t want to spend eight years learning how to do it.

The median annual wage for massage therapists was $35,970 in May 2012, but for many massage therapists, healing people is more important than paying the rent.

“I got into massage because I am a very empathetic person,” said Carly Fox of Cardiff. “I have a small roster of faithful clients who need me both for their muscles and their spirit. I suppose I could work for one of those corporate massage places, but it would be like selling my soul.”

San Diego has an abundance of massage schools to choose from, including Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, School of Healing Arts, and IPSB College of Massage & Integrative Health.

If the idea of putting your hands on people isn’t really your thing, there are other jobs that help those with aching bones without actually touching them.

Stores in San Diego such as Healthy Back, and the Back Store hire sales associates and there are mattress stores practically on every corner.

“So many medical doctors send me clients these days because they understand that people don’t want to take a pill for every ache and pain,” Fox said. “There is a place for all of us in this profession. You can make a ton of money or you can make enough to get by. What matters most is that we all want to help others.”

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