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Are you considering looking into how to become a chiropractor? If so, you’re in the right place! 

Surely, you must know at least a couple of people suffering from slipped discs, stiff neck, arthritic pain, scoliosis, sciatica, or other mobility issues. And these are just some of the ailments treated by chiropractors through non-invasive and drug-free methods

In short, chiropractors are true miracle workers whose profession can be both incredibly fulfilling and financially rewarding.  

However, becoming a chiropractor isn’t exactly a walk in the park – it can take years of training and rigorous study. But we’ll tell you all about that later. 

So, if you’d like to know what this profession entails and how to get started in it, read our article and discover: 

  • What does a chiropractor do;
  • How much do chiropractors make;
  • A step by step guide on how to become a chiropractor;
  • Chiropractor resume example.

What does a chiropractor do?

Chiropractors are trained, and licensed healthcare professionals who help patients deal with problems relating to the neuromusculoskeletal system

This means that if you’re experiencing any issues with nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, or tendons that restrict your movement, chiropractors are your people. 

As we’ve already mentioned, chiropractors are able to address all of these issues without the use of drugs or operations which would require anesthesia. And this plays a huge part in why patients seek out their assistance. 

Additionally, if we say “chiropractor,” the first thing that comes to your mind is probably an image of a person having their body cracked! 

And you’d be right to think that!

But manual adjustments are far from the only methods used by chiropractors. They also perform:

  • massage therapy,
  • trigger point therapy,
  • heat/cold therapy,
  • electrical muscle stimulation,
  • and mobilization (low-speed repetitive movements similar to stretches).

A chiropractor’s daily responsibilities and tasks

Of course, there are a lot of daily tasks and duties that fall under a chiropractor’s competence. 

Here are the basics: 

  • Determining diagnose. Every patient is different, and every patient requires personalized treatment. Firstly, chiropractors assess their patients through clinical examination and/or diagnostic imaging. 
  • Performing manual adjustments. Not only of the spine and neck, but also the pelvic area, and joints in upper and lower limbs. 
  • Pain management. Obviously, the main goal of a chiropractor is to relieve their patients of any pain or discomfort. And to do that, they employ various treatments and methods. 
  • Prescribing rehabilitative exercises. Another thing chiropractors do is suggesting specific exercises and scratches to help with the patient’s recovery process. Or to target problems, such as: headaches, back pain, and decreased mobility.
  • Lifestyle counseling. Then, to provide comprehensive care, chiropractors may offer additional advice on diet, weight loss, exercise plan, or sleep techniques. 
  • Setting up preventative strategies. Lastly, chiropractors often give advice on what to do to prevent further injuries and maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system. Again, this might include advice on how to make your workplace more ergonomic, and what to do to improve posture.

Depending on your specialization, your clientele may range from professional athletes to pregnant women, children or the elderly. 

What does a chiropractor do?

How much do chiropractors make?

In the USA, a licensed chiropractor can earn anywhere between $96K – $176K, with the average salary being $128K per year. 

However, how much do chiropractors make greatly depends on factors, such as location, whether you work in the private or public sector, and so on. 

Plus, this profession is in high demand and is projected to grow by 9% between 2022 and 2032. That is much faster than the average for other occupations. So, you can expect that the average yearly salary will only increase. 

But financial gain isn’t the only perk that comes with this profession!

Chiropractors are very much the masters of their own time. Or at least those who have their own practice. Depending on your needs, you can admit patients at your own tempo and work flexible hours. 

In other words, your work/life balance is entirely in your own hands. And there aren’t that many professionals in the healthcare field that can say the same.

How to become a chiropractor in 5 steps

Now that we’ve seen what a chiropractor does and how much do chiropractors make, let’s take a look at what you need to do to become one.

  1. Get a bachelor’s degree.

    First, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree (undergraduate) with a GPA 3.0 or higher. Or 90 hours of relevant coursework will suffice for certain doctoral programmes. This should give you a solid foundation for your further study.

  2. Complete a doctoral study.

    Next, you’ll have to spend an additional 4 years studying at a university to obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic degree (D.C.). During this time, you’ll acquire basic knowledge from different areas of healthcare, such as anatomy, biochemistry, clinical pathology, and so on. 

  3. Take your exams and get a license.

    In the USA, you can’t become a practicing chiropractor without having gained an official license issued by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE). Plus, some states may require you to have additional state-specific licenses.

  4. Consider getting a specialization.

    As is the case with other healthcare professions, chiropractic is a broad field. To hone in your skills and expertise, you can specialize in, for example pediatrics, sports therapy, or prenatal chiropractic.

  5. Continue gaining knowledge.

    As is the case in other areas of healthcare, your education does not simply stop after you graduate. Chiropractors must undergo further training, workshops, and conferences to keep up with the newest innovations and breakthroughs.

Now, let’s look at each step in greater detail.

Step 1: Get a bachelor’s degree.

The first step to becoming a chiropractor is enrolling and successfully completing an undergraduate degree. Either a 3-year or a 4-year programme will do. 

Alternatively, having 90 hours of undergraduate coursework may be enough. It depends on the requirements of the doctoral degree you wish to start. (But this is something you need to check on the official websites of specific institutions.)  

While a specific major isn’t always required (again, every institution may have different pre-requirements of entry), completing an undergraduate programme in pre-med, health sciences, kinesiology, or any other related specialization can give you a serious advantage. 

Besides, many doctoral programmes require you to have completed courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and psychology. So, studying a degree that includes any of these at the undergraduate level would make the most sense. 

But don’t forget to pay attention to your grades! As long as your GPA is 3.0 or higher, you should be eligible to take your study to the next level. 

Step 2: Complete a doctoral study.

And the next level is: obtaining your Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree

But don’t let the name confuse you! Chiropractors aren’t considered medical doctors (MD). 

Still, this 4 year study teaches you more than just how to break a person’s back. A good chiropractor needs to have basic knowledge from all different areas of medical study. For instance anatomy, neurology, physiology, biochemistry, embryology, histology, pharmacology, and all of the other -ogies. And let’s not forget about clinical nutrition, clinical pathology, even infectious diseases. 

But why is all of this necessary? Well, a chiropractor must be able to tell whether your back pain is caused by sore muscles or a more serious medical issue (such as cancer or organ failure).  

Should you need some help in crafting a CV for your PhD application, we’ve got you covered.

Step 3: Take your exams and get a license.

Once you’ve finished your studies, it’s time to get your license

In order to do that, you must pass a certification exam that is offered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE). And let us tell you… It’s a process.

The exam itself consists of 4 parts that are taken in the span of several years:

  1. Part 1 is taken in your 2nd year of your doctoral study.
  2. Part 2 is taken in the 3rd year of your doctoral study.
  3. You can take Part 3 at least 9 months before finishing your doctoral study.
  4. Part 4 is usually taken after having graduated.  

But that’s not all! 

Additionally, you may have to undergo more license exams, depending on the respective requirements of the state where you want to practice (we’re talking about the US here).

Step 4: Consider getting a specialization.

Chiropractors, just like other healthcare professionals, can choose to further specialize in certain areas of practice to cater to specific populations or conditions.

You can, for instance, choose to become:

  • sports chiropractic
  • pediatric chiropractic
  • prenatal chiropractic
  • geriatric chiropractic
  • neurology chiropractic

Of course, getting a specialization means additional education, training, and certification. This may involve postgraduate programs, residencies, or specific courses offered by professional chiropractic organizations.

Step 5: Continue gaining knowledge.

The field of chiropractic care is ever evolving. And professionals need to stay updated on the latest research, techniques and methods to keep up with it and bring their patients the best care they deserve. 

More importantly, in many states continuous education is a must if you wish to maintain your licensure.

In such cases, chiropractors must complete a certain number of education hours within a specific period to be able to renew their licenses. 

How to become a chiropractor in 5 steps

More chiropractor courses and certifications.

As you can see, for chiropractors learning never really stops

After having finished their basic studies and licenses, they can deepen their knowledge by entering several different certification programs, such as: 

#1 Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP®)

If you’re drawn to sports and the injuries they can cause, this might be just the thing for you. This certification is for chiropractors who want to specialize in sports medicine. It involves post-graduate education and training in sports medicine to better treat and manage athletic injuries.

#2 Certified Chiropractic Extremities Practitioner (CCEP)

Although chiropractors are mainly focused on spine and adjacent areas, they can also zero in on extremities. That is on joints other than the spinal ones. These can include, for instance, joints in hands, elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, or wrists. Just like with the spine, these joints can also experience misalignment and cause pain.

#3 Certification in Dry Needling®

Dry needling is a technique used to treat chronic pain, muscle strains, and headaches. In essence, the technique involves inserting thin, sterile needles into the skin and muscle directly at myofascial trigger points. Consequently, patients experience decreased muscle tightness, increased blood flow in the treated areas, and relief from zhe pain.

#4 Diplomate of the International Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics (DICCP)

This certificate covers all aspects of pediatrics – from prenatal stage, pregnancy, birth, infancy, toddler to preschool and adolescence. Each of these stages  are taught in detail. And so the practicing doctor of chiropractic gains additional skills in a wide range of evaluative, diagnostic, assessment and treatment procedures as well as advanced adjustment skills for different age groups, stages of development and needs and conditions.

#5 Graston Technique®

Another course chiropractors can take is to learn the Graston technique. In other words, soft-tissue instruments assisted mobilization. It utilizes specially designed stainless steel instruments to effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions within soft tissues. For example, the technique can be used to treat conditions such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and fibromyalgia.

chiropractor skills

Chiropractor skills

Besides all the technical knowledge and skills you pick up during studies and practice, you need to have a lot of “human” qualities (a.k.a. soft skills).

Namely the following: 

  • Great communication skills. Since the process of diagnosis ultimately boils down to talking to patients and trying to understand their issues, communication has to be on the top of that soft skills list. 
  • Empathy. Chiropractors spend the majority of their working hours dealing with people in pain and emotional distress. And for that, you must have patience and understanding. Because people in pain are rarely rational.
  • Physical resilience. Yes, yes… this isn’t really a soft skill, but still. As a chiropractor, you need to be physically fit yourself. You spend a lot of time on your feet and manipulation with your patients often involves a certain degree of physical strength. 
  • Adaptability and problem-solving. Twins, really. Chiropractors must be able to assess their patients and determine diagnoses pretty quickly. And don’t forget all the new industry developments that they have to take in their stride.

Chiropractor resume example

Lastly, apart from rigorous education, healthcare knowledge, and soft skills, you also need a cracking chiropractor resume! 

Here, we have an example of how a chiropractor’s resume can look like: 

How long does it take to become a chiropractor?

It can take approximately a good 8-9 years to become a practicing chiropractor

Let’s break down the math:

  • Bachelor’s degree: 3-4 years
  • Chiropractic doctorate: 4 years
  • Additional specialization: 1+ years 

This career path is rather complicated and time-consuming. And maybe you’ve just realized that it’s not quite for you. And that’s okay! 

If you’re still trying to figure out your calling, check out how to become: 

Key takeaways: How to become a chiropractor

To summarize the key information, chiropractors are trained, skilled, and licensed health care professionals who help their patients alleviate pain and discomfort in any part of their musculoskeletal system. 

To become a chiropractor, you must follow these 5 steps

  1. Get a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Complete a doctoral study.
  3. Take your exams and get a license.
  4. Consider getting a specialization.
  5. Continue gaining knowledge.





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