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HomeArticlesHow to Become a Chiropractor: 5 A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Chiropractor: 5 A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Chiropractor. Chiropractors treat patients with musculoskeletal and neurological system disorders without using any intrusive procedures. Find out what you need to do to achieve this fulfilling career in healthcare. A chiropractor adjusts the spinal alignment of a patient.
Chiropractic care offers comfort to people with musculoskeletal conditions like sciatica, persistent back pain, and joint pain. Chiropractors utilize non-invasive treatments, such as hands-on adjustments, to assist relieve body discomfort and inflammation, whereas other medical experts may perform surgery or prescribe drugs to treat physical ailments.

However, chiropractors must complete particular medical coursework and obtain a state licensure, just like other healthcare providers. This guide will teach you more about what chiropractors do, how much they make, and the steps you need to take to become one. It will also tell you what to expect from chiropractic school, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) tests, and the Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree. You’ll also discover suggested courses to help you start acquiring pertinent knowledge right away, as well as information on specializations you can think about pursuing.

How to Become a Chiropractor

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What does a chiropractor do?

A chiropractor treats pain and promotes general wellbeing by changing the position and alignment of the spine and other joints in the human body’s neuromuscular skeletal system. Chiropractors frequently carry out a variety of tasks and obligations, some of which are as follows:

  • Recognizing and evaluating a patient’s medical background
  • Evaluating the posture and spinal alignment of a patient
  • Spine and other joints can be adjusted and moved as necessary.
  • Based on the needs of the patient, developing pain management programs
  • Using non-invasive techniques to treat pain and discomfort, such as massage, targeted exercises, heat or cold, and more.
  • Giving dietary recommendations as well as other health and lifestyle ideas
  • Interpreting X-rays and doing further diagnostic procedures

5 Step-by-Step Guide To Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors are highly educated medical specialists who need to have completed their undergraduate studies, completed four years of specialized study to acquire a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree, passed a series of national tests, and obtained state licensure.

A career as a chiropractor may seem like a lofty aim given each of these prerequisites, but by making the correct decisions at the right times, you may confidently progress in this direction. Each of the five stages you’ll probably need to take to begin working in this important medical field is explained in full below.

1. Prepare by studying in college

To be eligible for chiropractic school, you must have an undergraduate degree or have completed at least 90 hours of undergraduate coursework, which equates to nearly three years of study. However, each school will have different entry criteria, so before applying to any school, be careful to examine the undergraduate curriculum requirements.

Ideally, the subject of your undergraduate degree should be one that pertains to chiropractic treatment. Exercise science, human biology, and health sciences are a few examples of the undergraduate degrees that chiropractic school students most frequently possess.

2. Get your DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) degree

You can apply to a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree program if you’ve met the prerequisites for an undergraduate degree. These courses are available in chiropractic colleges, where four years of serious study should result in a degree. You can anticipate a combination of clinical and classroom experiences. Anatomy, microbiology, radiography, functional kinesiology, chiropractic principles, and philosophy are some of the subjects you’ll study during the course of your four years in chiropractic school.

You will start taking the exams given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), which all chiropractors must pass to become licensed, while you are in chiropractic school.

3. Obtain a license

You are prepared to submit an application for a license to practice as a chiropractor in your state after passing all four of the NBCE tests and finishing chiropractic school. Every state has different specifications for obtaining a license. In many states, completing a background check, demonstrating malpractice insurance, or providing personal references are all part of the application process requirements. The NBCE administers the state test in some states, including Florida, Missouri, Oregon, and Oklahoma.

Similar to other medical specialties, you’ll need to renew your license in accordance with state regulations, which almost certainly include accruing a predetermined number of CEUs (CEU).

4. Think about specializing

You can think about getting certified to provide your patients specialist services like acupuncture or nutritional counseling in addition to the services you studied in chiropractic school.

A fantastic method to customize your chiropractic services to meet your present and future career goals is to earn specialized board certifications. Your range of care may also be increased. Sports, acupuncture, and pediatrics are a few of the more well-liked disciplines.

There are a few options to build your postgraduate study and obtain specialist certifications. The majority of specialist certificates call for you to complete an exam as well as a postgraduate program that has been accepted by the certifying organizations.

There are various certifications offered by the American Board of Chiropractic Specialties (ABCS), but you can also obtain independent board certifications. The following are a few well-liked ABCS specialist certification choices:

  • American Board of Forensic Professionals Diplomate (DABFP)
  • American Chiropractic Neurology Board Diplomate (DACNB)
  • American Board of Chiropractic Acupuncture Diplomate (DABCA)
  • American Board of Chiropractic Internists Diplomate (DABCI)
  • Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition Diplomate (DCBCN)
  • American Board of Chiropractic Pediatrics Diplomate (DABCP)
  • American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board Diplomate (DACRB)
  • American Chiropractic Board of Occupational Health Diplomate (DACBOH)

Other specializations you can earn from independent chiropractic boards include:

  • Certification in animal chiropractic by the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC) of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA)
  • National reflexology certification offered by the American Reflexology Certification Board

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5. Gain work experience

It’s time to consider your ideal workplace and long-term career objectives once you have received your license to operate as a chiropractor in your state. Like other medical professions, chiropractors have the option of opening their own practice or joining one that already exists.

New graduates can work as associates in a practice in order to pay off their student loans and obtain some experience. Others might wish to start their own private practice and just get experience as an associate for a little period of time, but some people may enjoy working as associates for the whole of their careers. Meanwhile, other people discover that working as independent contractors suits them better. Every route has certain advantages of its own. Common factors to take into account for each one are as follows:

  • Owning your own practice may involve a lot of administrative work, but you’ll probably have a lot of control over the working hours you choose, the services you provide, and the setting in which you do your work. Make sure you are aware of the effort required to launch your own practice. As a business owner, you will require a building, funding, and a business strategy.
  • For anyone who wants to start working immediately out of school, working as an associate is great. Working for an established clinic, whether on a temporary basis or as your career, can help you develop important skills and a devoted clientele. The drawbacks to take into account are that you might not have as much flexibility with the services you offer or the hours you work. Remember that choosing this path allows you to practice in a variety of settings, from an integrated office where you collaborate with physicians and other chiropractors to a multidisciplinary setting where you collaborate with other practitioners of alternative medicine.
  • Chiropractors who work as “freelance contractors” may do so in a range of locations, including offices and private homes. Although working for a reputable clinic can be safer, this alternative gives you the flexibility to set your own hours and location. You are responsible for paying for your own malpractice insurance, so keep that in mind. Since you are your own boss, you might not receive the same benefits as if you were employed by a conventional chiropractic clinic.

What skills do I need to become a chiropractor?

You’ll need characteristics like effective communication, dexterity, and problem-solving skills to become a chiropractor.

Chiropractic professionals spend the most of the day standing up and using their hands. Additionally, they must work with a variety of patients with various needs. It is crucial to understand how to support each person and convey pain management strategies. When dealing with patients, there should be some degree of compassion and empathy. Another talent that a chiropractor should have is patience, especially when working with younger patients. Along with these human abilities, you’ll also need to be skilled in technical tasks like obtaining vital signs, analyzing X-rays and other diagnostic tests, and diagnosing and treating physical problems. Other technical skills include manipulating the spine and joints with your hands.

How to Become a Chiropractor

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How much do chiropractors make?

As of May 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual compensation for chiropractors in the US was $75,000 [1]. The top 10% of US chiropractors earned just over $128,750, compared to the bottom 10% who made less than $37,400 [2].

The state in which you work, any specialty credentials you possess, and whether you are an independent contractor or an employee of a practice or clinic are all variables that could affect your chiropractor salary. What you can anticipate to make as a chiropractor also depends on the size and type of practice.


Depending on your hobbies and long-term professional objectives, there are numerous possible avenues for a chiropractor’s career growth.

A recent graduate can get employment as an associate in a clinic where they can work alongside a chiropractor, learn the ins and outs of the industry, and develop their fundamental abilities and talents. If you select this path, you can take your time determining the specialty you want to pursue and whether you want to work independently or as a career associate.

Additionally, recent grads may decide to go freelancing and operate as independent contractors. Going in this direction can provide a comparable experience, but you might need a mentor to guide you through the business side of working for yourself. Being fresh out of school may make it more difficult to build a clientele.

There are many possibilities accessible for a skilled chiropractor. You might consider starting your own practice once you’ve spent years perfecting your abilities and establishing a clientele while working as an associate or an independent contractor. By going this path, you can choose the services you want to provide and if you want to work with additional chiropractors or alternative medicine specialists like a massage therapist or reflexologist.

Additionally, if you’re a chiropractor with a lot of expertise, you might possibly pursue a career in administration, research, or education.

FAQS on How to Become a Chiropractor

What qualities do you need to be a chiropractor?

Chiropractors should also possess the following specific qualities:
Detail oriented.
Interpersonal skills.

What is difficult about being a chiropractor?

Some chiropractors may work overtime hours to see patients, conduct research and complete paperwork. Many professionals in the medical field may work 50- to 60-hour work weeks. While this can be stressful, many people are happy to spend a lot of time working when they enjoy their job.

Why choose chiropractic as a career?

People frequently choose the field of chiropractic because they love the idea of helping people achieve health naturally, without the use of drugs and surgery. People who make successful chiropractors usually possess qualities such as: an affinity for wellness and a healthy lifestyle.

Is chiropractic hard to study?

Certainly, the doctor of chiropractic is challenging, and biochemistry was noted as being the most difficult. Other hard courses within the chiropractic degree program are the cadaver labs, and classes in nutrition and cardiovascular/pulmonary physiology.

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