How To Become A Chiropractor

A chiropractor treats patients with health problems in their neuromusculoskeletal system. They help treat pain and injuries of the nerves, bones, muscles, tendons, joints and more. They manipulate and make adjustments to the human body in order to treat pain and injury. In order to become a chiropractor, a person must obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic degree as well as hold a state license for where they wish to work.

Why Become A Chiropractor

Chiropractors have a wide range of responsibilities. They see clients on a daily basis. They take new patients and assess their medical history. Chiropractors perform a physical examination on them. They listen to patient concerns. Chiropractors will examine the patient’s posture, spine, reflexes and more. This may also include conducting tests and having x-rays done of the body.

They will have the patient come in for frequent, regularly scheduled sessions. During these sessions the chiropractor will manipulate and make adjustments to the patient’s neck, back, limbs, spine, joints, and more, as needed. They will talk to the patient about healthy living, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and proper care of their body.

Chiropractors may also refer their patients to other specialists, such as massage therapists or physicians, who can further help their patients with pain management. They help their patients come up with an individualized plan for decreasing pain, increasing mobility, increasing relaxation, and more. Chiropractic care is seen as a holistic model.

Becoming a chiropractor is a good idea for those who are interested in medicine, who enjoy working directly with patients, and want to study a holistic approach to healthcare.

Chiropractors should possess the following qualities and skills:

Chiropractor Work Environment

Chiropractors work in an office environment. About two-thirds of chiropractors work in a chiropractic office with other practitioners. The remaining amount have set up their own practice. Being a chiropractor involves daily work, working directly with patients. They are on their foot throughout the day.

Chiropractors work in a sterile environment, with tables and equipment set up and cleaned for each patient. Their work is intensive, as it involves using their hands and upper body to manipulate the neck, back, limbs, and joints of patients. A chiropractor sees many patients a day.

They are responsible for scheduling future appointments with their patients, and for building a client base. Chiropractors typically work full-time, regular hours. They often work during the day and are not scheduled during the weekend.

Chiropractor Salary

The median annual salary for chiropractors was $69,000 in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will lead to about 6,000 new jobs in chiropractic care over this 10 year period. There are many factors that go into determining salary for a profession. Chiropractors tend to earn more money as they gain more education and years of experience in the industry.

Chiropractors that own their own practice are able to set their individual rates, which may enable them to make more money. Most chiropractors work full time, allowing them to make more money. About 25 percent of chiropractors work part time.

Average Chiropractor Annual Salary

$83,350

The average annual salary for chiropractors is $83,350 a year. Salaries start at $34,550 a year and go up to $144,730 a year.

Average Chiropractor Hourly Wage

$40.07

The average hourly wage for a chiropractor is $40.07. Hourly wages are between $16.61 and $69.58 an hour.

Stats were based out of 33,630 employed chiropractors in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Chiropractors

Top Paying Cities For Chiropractors


Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Chiropractor Career Outlook

Employment for chiropractors is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than average compared to most other occupations in the United States. Many people are becoming interested in new forms of healthcare in order to treat pain, illness, injuries, and improve their overall wellness. Chiropractic care appeals to many people as a holistic form of treatment.

These professionals are able to work with the back, neck, limbs, and joints of the body, in order to alleviate pain. Many physicians and physical therapists refer patients to chiropractors for care. Chiropractors will continue to see an increase in their patients due to an increased interest in holistic healthcare and the wide range of services they are able to perform.

Chiropractor Degree

Strict requirements exist for aspiring chiropractors, as their services must be completed with the utmost care and caution. Chiropractors must obtain a doctorate degree and licensure to practice.

Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree program. The first step to becoming a chiropractor is earning a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate programs in chemistry, biology, pre-med, biochemistry, physics, psychology, or other majors will certainly help. These classes will focus on lectures, as well as laboratory classes and field work. Students will take science classes, mainly, along with math and other classes. These foundational classes will help a person decide if they truly want to become a chiropractor. It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Step 2: Obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. After undergraduate school, a person must attend a Doctor of Chiropractic program. Keep in mind that there are not many of these programs available. In the United States there are currently only 15 programs for Doctor of Chiropractic. It is important to apply to as many as possible to guarantee admission. Be sure to check individual school requirements.

Professional training may take four to five years and mostly consists of clinical training. Chiropractors must perform intricate manipulation and adjusting techniques, so their hands-on skills must be carefully crafted. Their academic training includes many similar to medical doctors. Students can expect to take courses in the healing sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition, and public health. The curriculum consists of 4,200 hours of classroom education, laboratory, and clinical experience. Chiropractic students will expect to spend at least one year in clinical training with patients.

Step 3: Examinations and licensure. All states require chiropractors to be licensed. Chiropractors must take and pass a series of national board examinations. There are four parts total to the exam. These exams assess a person’s knowledge in general science studies, clinical subjects, physical examinations and techniques, and diagnoses, respectively. Two elective examinations exist, including physiotherapy (PT) and acupuncture.

After passing these exams, the intended chiropractor must apply for licensure for each U.S. state in which they wish to work. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners also offers tests for employment within Canada, France, United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Continued professional development and post-licensure examinations are a requirement throughout a chiropractor’s practicing. Chiropractors must take the Special Purposes Examination for Chiropractic and NBCE Ethics and Boundaries Examination.

Chiropractor Coursework

Anatomy and Physiology: In this course students learn all about human body structure and function. Topics include cell structure and functions of all major systems of the human body. The connections and relationships among these systems are studied. Laboratory work is also part of the class.

Microbiology: In this course students learn about many different kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi and more. Major emphasis is placed upon classification, genetics, ecology, physiology, physical and chemical control and economic importance. An introduction to applications of microbiology to food and water analysis, industry and medicine, including principles of immunology and transmission of infectious diseases.

Immunology: In this course, students learn about the principles of immunology. They are introduced to the development of the immune system, innate immunity, immunoglobulin structure and genetics, antigen-antibody reactions, the major histocompatibility complex reactions and antigen presentation, T cell receptors (genetics, structure, selection), T cell activation and effector functions, immune responses to infectious organisms and tumors, autoimmune diseases, autoimmunity, allergies, and immune deficiencies.

Chiropractor Career Path

Career Overview Responsibilities Education Required Benefits
Chiropractic Pediatrician This involves assisting infants and children with chiropractic-related health problems. Young children may suffer from illness and injury that result in chiropractic related problems of the neck, spine, back, limbs, joints and more. A chiropractor specializes in the treatment of young children. In addition to the Doctor of Chiropractic program, you must take exams and receive a credential in Chiropractic Pediatrics. This is a great profession for those whose calling is to help children.

Related Chiropractor Careers

A chiropractor is a great career for those who enjoy working in healthcare. There are many other professions that are similar to chiropractic care. If you think you may enjoy becoming a chiropractor, check out the related careers below.

Physical Therapist: A physical therapist helps those who are injured improve their range of movement and manage their pain. These therapists work on treatment plans, rehabilitation, and help patients who have chronic conditions or injuries.

Massage Therapist: Massage therapists give massages to clients. They use a variety of modalities, including Swedish and therapeutic massages. Massage helps to relieve pain, decrease stress, and aid in general wellness.

Athletic Trainer: Athletic trainers often work for sports teams and for professional athletes. They diagnose and treat muscle and bone injuries.

More Careers To Explore

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