become a chiropractor

Guide: How to Become a Chiropractor

Did you know the employment of chiropractors is forecast to grow 15 percent during the next decade?

If you’ve been looking for a promising career to pursue, and you have a passion for healthcare, look no further

But first, what do chiropractors do?

They diagnose and use alternative treatment methods to heal conditions that affect our muscles, joints, and bones. Some of these conditions include bone fractures, tendinitis, and arthritis.

So, what does it take to join this profession?

In this article, we’re sharing all the information you need to become a chiropractor. Read on!

Join Undergraduate School

Like most medical professionals, chiropractors undergo extensive training before joining a practice.

As such, the first step to becoming a chiropractor is to join undergraduate school. Even though students aren’t required to pursue a specific bachelor’s, it’s highly recommended to pursue a program with courses in biology, physics, chemistry and psychology.

Such a program will introduce you to the healing sciences, nurture your passion for science and develop your lab skills.

After earning your bachelor’s degree, or at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate education, you’ll be ready to move to the next step.

Join an Accredited Chiropractic School

To become a chiropractor, one of the things you must have is Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree.

This degree is only offered in a chiropractic school. As of 2017, there were only 18 campuses accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education.

Some of the most popular chiropractic schools include:

  • University of Western States, Portland, OR
  • National University of Health Sciences, Lombard, IL
  • South Carolina University of Health Science, Columbia, SC
  • Palmer College of Chiropractic Education (West, Davenport & Florida campuses).

Admission requirements may vary slightly among these institutions. Do your research and find one that suits your qualifications.

After securing an admission, you’ll undergo rigorous training for four to five years. In the classroom, you’ll learn about the human anatomy, nutrition, public health, rehabilitation and physiology among other scientific topics.

In the laboratory, you’ll learn how to conduct diagnostic tests using specialized machines such as radiographers, and magnetic resonance imaging scanners. You’ll also learn how to draw blood and other fluids from a patient, as well as administer pelvic exams and a host of other clinical procedures.

By the end of the program, you would have accumulated at least 4,200 hours of extensive classwork, laboratory and supervised clinical training.

Successfully completing a DC program is not an easy task. In fact, chiropractic school is just as challenging (if not more) as pediatric or dental school. Only hard work and passion for the profession will keep you from dropping out.

Nurture the Skills You Need to Succeed as a Chiropractor

Professional knowledge alone isn’t enough to make you a competent practitioner. After all, what good is a doctor who cannot clearly communicate with his patients?

To be a well-rounded chiropractor, you need superior manual dexterity and excellent coordination, because the job involves performing delicate adjustments to a patient’s spine or joint.

Strong analytical and decision-making skills are crucial, as is a high attention to detail. You must be able to study a patient’s symptoms, make accurate diagnoses and determine the most suitable treatment procedure.

Chiropractors must also be empathetic. Some patients will come to you in deep pain, others may be traumatized by their chronic conditions. You should be able to understand their feelings and comfort them.

Obtain State Licensure

Just when you thought you’ve been through it all, you realize there are more hurdles to overcome!

Don’t despair. It’s only one more hurdle left, but very critical.

The last step is to obtain a license from your state’s Board of Chiropractic Medicine or Examiners. If you’re in South Carolina, for instance, you will need to make an application to the South Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

But to earn this license, there are a couple of requirements, including passing examinations administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE).

To understand why NBCE exams are necessary, we need to go back in time a bit.

Before 1965, states created their own licensing exams, and chiropractors did the same basic exams as medical doctors. As the profession developed, there was a need to distinguish it from other medical practitioners.

A study commissioned by the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards recommended the formation of a national examination body for chiropractors and, consequently, the NBCE was established. Today, all 50 states including District of Columbia require aspiring chiropractors to take the NBCE exams.

After completing the NBCE exams, you’re free to apply for a license from your state’s Board.

Find Employment

Once you have a license, you’re ready to hit the job market!

But do you know where to start hunting for a job? The employers of chiropractors include:

  • Established offices of chiropractors
  • Office of physicians
  • Clinical research facilities

You may start out as an assistant chiropractor, after which will move up as you gain more experience. Once you gain sufficient experience, you can go all out and start your own chiropractic practice.

Like any business, running a successful practice requires more than your professional competence as a chiropractor. You must know how to obtain the necessary business licenses, and possess strong management skills.

If you’re not ready to run a solo practice, you can join forces with two or more chiropractors and start a group practice

Become a Chiropractor and Make a Difference in Your Community

Evidently, to become a chiropractor is not a walk in the park.

You must undergo extensive training that can take up to 9 years (undergraduate + chiropractic school), and obtain a professional license. Even after getting a job, you must pursue ongoing training to maintain your license.

Nonetheless, with the passion, ambition and the right information on how to become a chiropractor, nothing can stop you. Good luck, and be sure to spend more time on our site for more helpful career resources.