According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 34,740 employed chiropractors in the US. If you’re looking to join the ranks of these chiropractors, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get there.
Like any other medical profession, becoming a chiropractor takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If you’re wondering about what to expect on the journey ahead, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about becoming a chiropractor.
Chiropractors undergo years of studying and training before they can get licensed. This training all starts with earning a high school diploma or GED. Once this is taken care of, it’s time to start thinking about your college options.
It’s important to understand that there is no ‘chiropractic’ major. But, you’re more likely to be successful in this field if you choose a science degree or pre-med degree. Rigorous science courses in your undergrad studies will help build the foundation for the knowledge base you need as a chiropractor.
No matter what major you choose, you should focus on taking classes in:
- Sports medicine
To prepare yourself for interacting with patients, we also suggest you take courses in psychology and sociology. If you hope to one day open your own practice, it’s also a good idea to take business classes and entrepreneurial classes.
Chiropractors do undergo extensive training to obtain their degree. But, it’s important to understand that chiropractors don’t hold a medical degree. Therefore, they aren’t doctors.
This means that after you graduate college, you won’t be studying for MCATs or applying to medical school like some of your peers. Instead, your next move will be attending a chiropractor school.
Chiropractic college lasts for four years. During this time, you’ll learn the academic and scientific skills necessary to become an expert in the field. Your curriculum will include intensive study in the areas of:
- Neuromusculoskeletal conditions
- Nutritional health
- Holistic health
You may also choose to specialize your focus in areas such as:
- Applied nutrition
- Oriental medicine
- Or other various disciplines
During your final year of schooling, you’ll put your practical skills to the test. You’ll perform the functions of a chiropractor under the supervision of an experienced professional.
When choosing a chiropractic school, make sure you choose one that is nationally accredited by the Council of Chiropractic Education, also known as the CCE. While there are good schools all over the country, here are some of the top chiropractic schools to look into:
- University of Western States, Portland, Oregon
- Parker University, Dallas, Texas
- National University of Health Sciences, Lombard, Illinois
- Logan University, Chesterfield, Missouri
- Life University, Marietta, Georgia
- University of Bridgeport, Brideport, Connecticut
- Palmer College of Chiropractic- Campuses in Davenport, Iowa and Orange Port Orange, Florida
- Southern California University of Health Sciences, Whittier, California
Taking the National Board Exam
After you graduate chiropractic school, there’s still one big hurdle between you and licensure: the national board exam.
This exam is given twice per year. It’s administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The exam is divided into three multiple-choice sections.
The first sections consist of 110 questions about:
- Spinal anatomy
- General anatomy
- Public health
The second section consists of 110 questions about:
- Diagnostic imaging
- Neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis
- General diagnosis
- Principles of chiropractic practice and associated sciences
The final section also consists of 110 multiple choice questions as well as 10 case vignettes. This section will test you on your knowledge of:
- Clinical impression
- Diagnosis impression
- Case management
- Chiropractic techniques
- Case history
- Physical examination
- Roentgenology examination.
Each section of the test is timed, and if you wish to gain certification in any specialty areas, you’ll be offered additional testing.
Obtaining Your License
After you pass the board exams, it’s time to obtain your chiropractic license. You’ll need to obtain a license from the state in which you intend to practice and regulations can vary from state to state.
It’s important to research your state’s regulations to ensure you’re meeting all of the requirements. Each state has its own:
- Renewal requirements
- Licensing fees
- Security and criminal check requirements
- National board testing requirements
- Additional certification requirements
- Malpractice insurance requirements
- Continuing education requirements
If you wish to practice outside of the US, check out this guide to learn the top facts about chiropractors working internationally.
Practicing as a Chiropractor
Once you’ve obtained your license, it’s finally time to start the job hunt. Many chiropractors work solo or join a group practice. A small number of chiropractors work in physicians’ offices or hospitals.
If you’re looking to increase your salary, the best thing to do is to start your own practice.
There are thousands of chiropractic positions opening each year. However, the chiropractic field still remains very competitive. To gain an edge over the competition and attract more patients, we suggest involving yourself in continuing education programs.
In addition to the state-required continuing education programs that you must take part in every two years, there are other continuing education programs. These are great for those who wish to specialize in certain areas of chiropractic care.
Becoming a Chiropractor: Are You Ready to Start Your Journey?
Now that you’ve read this guide on becoming a chiropractor, it’s time to start your journey.
While it takes a lot of work, you can’t beat the reward that comes with running your own practice and helping patients live healthier lives. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more career-related news.