A chiropractor, also called a chiropractic physician, is a professional who treats patients with medical problems related to the spine and nervous, muscular and skeletal systems. In this article, you’ll learn the steps to becoming a chiropractor — including educational requirements, licensing, average salaries and future job opportunities.
For those who want to specialize in areas such as sports injuries, occupational health, neurology and orthopedics, chiropractic colleges offer post-graduate programs. Upon completion, students may take specialty exams leading to “diplomat” status in their given specialty.
Depending on the state and school, aspiring chiropractors must complete two to four years of college before enrolling in a chiropractic college. Though some students enroll in an undergraduate pre-medical program, other acceptable courses of study include biology, chemistry and physics.
Students then attend an accredited chiropractic college for four years, with the last year spent practicing chiropractic care under supervision. Some colleges offer pre-chiropractic study and a bachelor’s degree program before formal chiropractic study. According to the American Chiropractic Association(ACA), students must complete a minimum of 4,200 hours of combined lab, classroom and clinical experience in their chiropractic program.
Chiropractic school graduates earn their Doctor of Chiropractic Degree (D.C.), but before they can practice, they must pass the national board examinations administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiner to become licensed.
Chiropractors diagnose and treat problems associated with a patient’s skeletal, muscular and nervous system by adjusting vertebrae in the spinal column.
Using various forms of therapy — physical, light, heat and water — chiropractors provide information about exercise and nutrition that can help patients adjust their lifestyles and treat symptoms associated with some of the following ailments:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 53,000 chiropractors were employed in 2006. This report stated that most chiropractors work in a solo practice — 52 percent are self-employed — while the remainder work in group practices, teach in schools, conduct research and practice in clinics or hospitals.
The BLS says chiropractor jobs are expected to increase 14 percent between 2006 and 2016. This anticipated job growth is based upon the increasing public demand for alternative health care. Also, as the baby boomer population ages, the need for chiropractors to treat joint-related maladies will likely increase.
Payscale.com’s salary range for chiropractors — per years of experience — is $41,396 to $81,960. Simplyhired.com rates the average chiropractor salary at $39,000.