How To Become A Chiropractor

Chiropractic Symbol - Gold

Table of Contents:

Just What is Chiropractic Treatment?Is Becoming a Chiropractor a Respectable Job Option?Chiropractic School Requirements – General EducationHow Long is Chiropractic School?How Much Does a Chiropractic Degree Cost?How to Choose the Best Chiropractor SchoolStudying Online vs. Studying on CampusChoosing a DegreeState Licensing RequirementsFinding Work As A ChiropractorChiropractor SalaryAdditional Skills Needed to Become a Successful ChiropractorIn SummaryIs This Job Right for You?

How To Become a Chiropractor


Just What is Chiropractic Treatment?

A chiropractor is a medical practitioner who helps people deal with neck, back and muscle pain. Chiropractors offer short term treatments that range from one to three months; during the treatment course, a chiropractor will manipulate the muscles and joints in order to align them properly and reduce pain caused by musculo-skeletal problems.

Chiropractors usually use various objects to help massage the muscles and joints. Most individuals in this professional will also give routine X-rays in order to properly examine one’s back and see how to best treat the problem in order to bring about permanent relief.

Those who are interested in this line of work will find that it is both personally fulfilling and profitable. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts steady job growth in this industry up to the year 2020, which means that those who take the time to learn this skill should not have a difficult time getting a job or opening a practice upon graduation.


Is Becoming a Chiropractor a Respectable Job Option?

Being a chiropractor in today’s day and age is a lot more respectable than it was ten or twenty years ago. While there are still some quacks in the profession who claim they can heal everything from the common cold to cancer, most chiropractors are respectable, licensed individuals.

The medical community has come to accept the fact that it is very possible to successfully treat a wide range of back and muscular conditions without surgery. In fact, most people who go to a chiropractor do so because a doctor has specifically recommended this form of treatment. While some chiropractors do get a bad rap, a person should keep in mind that no profession is totally free from “bad apples” and there are many nutty lawyers, doctors, dentists, home builders and bankers who also give their profession a bad name.

Thankfully, strict study and licensing requirements ensures that many chiropractors study for at least as long as doctors and dentists do. All states also have laws in place to ensure that those practicing this type of medicine do so in an ethical manner. In short, becoming a chiropractor is a respectable job option for those who are dedicated to working in the field of medicine and helping to relieve pain caused by chronic conditions, even though there is a vocal minority who do not see it quite this way.


Chiropractic School Requirements – General Education

An aspiring chiropractor will need to start by getting a high school degree and then studying for either an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree. After obtaining either an associate or bachelor’s degree, a person will need to enroll in an accredited chiropractic school to study for a doctor of chiropractic degree.

The requirements for enrolling in a college or university are minimal. Nearly all educational institutions are willing to accept students who are over the age of 18 and have obtained either a high school degree or GED. In order to enroll in a college or university, a person will need to fill out the relevant application forms and send them in on time, along with other required papers.

If the college or university in question is quite popular and only has a limited number of seats, then a person may be asked to come in for a face to face interview and provide high school or college SAT exam grades. This information is used by the educational institution in question to determine who to grant admittance to.

Some universities have across the board strict requirements regarding student enrollment. They may require that a person first earn an associate degree at a local or internet based college and/or be at least 21 or 22 years of age. Foreign nationals from countries that do not speak English as their native language should note that all universities will require such individuals to take a English language exam before enrollment to prove that they can follow the course material in English without difficulties.

It should be noted that chiropractic school requirements vary from school to school. Some schools may require that a person have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field before enrollment. Others may require that a person have a certain amount of on the job experience as a chiropractic assistant. It is important to look into the requirements for a school before sending enrollment papers and the required fee, as the fee is not refundable if a person is rejected from the school of his or her choice.


How Long is Chiropractic School?

Chiropractic school lasts for about four years. However, if a person counts the time it takes to study for a undergraduate or graduate degree before enrolling in a chiropractic school, then study time will take anywhere from six to eight years.

Those who study for their associates or bachelors degree online may be able to shorten their study hours. Many online educational institutions allow students to go at their own pace and finish course material faster than would have otherwise been possible. At the same time, studying online does take a lot of work and self discipline and most people who choose this option also hold down a regular job and/or care for family.


How Much Does a Chiropractic Degree Cost?

The cost of chiropractic school naturally varies, depending on where one lives and which school he or she studies with. The best chiropractic schools may charge anywhere from $90,000 to $100,000 for a four year degree course; these fees include not only tuition but also books and other study materials that the school may require students to purchase. However, it is possible to get a degree from an accredited chiropractic school for anywhere from $70,000 to $80,000.

Many schools do offer financial aid for those who are unable to afford high tuition fees. Additionally, there are various federal aid options and grant options available for a wide range of people. Those who do not have a large sum of money to invest in their studies should not be put off by the high cost of obtaining a chiropractic degree; instead, one will want to look at various schooling and funding options to find the ones that work best for him or her personally.


How to Choose the Best Chiropractor School

Choosing a chiropractic school is not something that should be rushed into. Instead, a person should contact a number of schools and ask about study requirements, teachers, fees, aid options and other relevant information and then choose the school that is the most suitable.

It is very important for the school to be accredited, as most states will not give a practitioner’s license to those who do not graduate from an accredited educational institution. Those who want to cut costs should choose a school that is based in their state of residence, as most schools offer cheaper prices to state residents than they do to those studying out of state.

A person should choose a school that has a competent, experienced yet helpful teacher. A good teacher will make time to answer student’s questions and explain things in a clear manner. Look up online reviews of a school before applying for enrollment to make sure the teacher and course are worth the cost.


Studying Online vs. Studying on Campus

Studying online does have several advantages over studying on campus. Internet based colleges and universities are often accredited and employers generally do not care whether the college or university in question is a brick and mortar institution or internet based one. Studying online is much cheaper than studying in a physical location and enables a person to choose his or her study hours.

Those who work part time or full time may find that studying online is really their only option. However, as was noted above, a person will need to make a study schedule and stick to it. Internet based universities have deadlines and while a person does not need to be at class at a certain time, homework and assignment deadlines do need to be completed as per the rules of the university in question. Failure to keep up with the class will result in a person having to drop out of the course.

A person who is studying for a health related degree online will also need to find a way to get practical experience, as he or she will not be able to benefit from the hands on training classes offered by a brick and mortar educational institution. Working as a chiropractic assistant is a good idea; one does not need a license in order to find a job on this field and while it does not pay particularly well it does enable a person to gain experience outside the classroom.


Choosing a Degree

Eight states require that a chiropractor have not only a chiropractic degree but also a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Furthermore, the odds are that more states will institute this requirement in the future. For this reason, it can be a a good idea to study for a bachelor’s degree even though it takes longer to obtain than a Master’s degree. Those who want to teach in this field instead of becoming an active practitioner will need a Master’s degree along with their DC degree.


State Licensing Requirements

An aspiring chiropractor should realize that he or she will not only need a diploma but also a state license in order to practice. Specific requirements vary from state to state, so a person will need to look up his or her state laws regarding licensing and follow the instructions given.

Most states recognize the examination given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. This is a four part exam that will enable a person to work in most states in the United States. However, it should be noted that some states will require a person to also pass a state exam in order to get a license. The license is not indefinite; a chiropractor will need to brush up on his or her studies on an ongoing basis as well as continue to keep up with new developments in the field in order to retain a chiropractic license.


Finding Work As A Chiropractor

Over 40% of all chiropractors are self employed individuals who own their own clinic. Such individuals will usually have at least one chiropractic assistant to help communicate with patients, assist in chiropractic massages, take X-rays, keep track of patient records, etc. Naturally, it will take time to build a rapport in the local community and get patients, but the fact is that there are many very successful private practitioners in this field and, with a bit of business sense, almost anyone can start up a successful chiropractic office.

Another alternative is to buy a practice from a retiring chiropractor. Such a practice is perfectly acceptable and while it can be very costly, it enables a person to start off with an established practice that already has regular patients and trained employees. Anyone who can buy a practice instead of starting one should seriously consider doing so.

A number of chiropractors also work in a hospital, clinic or with a private physician. Such chiropractors tend to the needs of patients who have been referred to them by other doctors. Chiropractors also frequently work at outpatient clinics as well. Employed chiropractors may not make as much per year as those who work in their own practice but they usually earn a large salary nonetheless. Furthermore, chiropractor employers frequently cover benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, sick days, etc.

A chiropractor can also work as a teacher or professor at a college, university or chiropractic school. Those who choose this career route will miss out on personal interaction with patients but at the same time will be able to find joy in passing their skills on to others who want to learn this particular profession. However, it should be noted that becoming a chiropractic teacher is not easy; a person will need to have not only a chiropractic degree but also a Masters degree in a related field. Additionally, a school may prefer an applicant who has many years of experience in this field to one who has just graduated.


Chiropractor Salary

The chiropractor salary naturally depends on where a person works, how much experience he or she has, the duration of one’s work day (i.e. part day or all day) and even one’s geographical location. Following is some important information that a wannabe chiropractor will want to know about this profession.

The average chiropractor earns a little over $67,000 a year, but a person who has just graduated from school should not expect to earn this much right off the bat. A first job will usually pay in the range of $40,000 to $45,000 a year and a person will usually find him or herself looking for employment at a hospital, clinic or private practice. However, this is not at all a bad thing; finding employment is a good way to hone one’s skills without having to worry about the many details involved in running one’s own business.

Once a person has gained some on the job experience at a low paying job, he or she may want to look for a more lucrative job option. Working for a private practitioner is much more profitable than working for a public or even private hospital or clinic; the average salary for those who work for a private doctor ranges from $78,000 to $87,000. However, the most profitable option is to find a job as a teacher at a college, university or chiropractic school; such job options pay a little over $90,000 a year, in addition to offering other employee benefits.

A person’s geographical location will also determine how much he or she earns per year. On average, a chiropractor in Alaska, Washington, Ohio, North Carolina or Delaware earns over $100,000 a year, while chiropractors in Oregon, Nebraska and Montana generally earn less than two thirds of this amount.


Additional Skills Needed to Become a Successful Chiropractor

There is more to being a successful chiropractor than earning a degree, passing the national chiropractic exam and finding a job. First of all, a chiropractor will need to have good interpersonal communications skills. He or she will need to be able to explain to a client what type of treatment is needed and why it is the best option. A chiropractor will also need to be able to make patients feel comfortable while in treatment.

Being able to communicate in more than one language is very helpful. As globalization increases, those who want to serve others will find that being able to communicate clearly with those who do not speak English is a must. Spanish is often a good choice when it comes to learning a second language, as it is both easy to learn and very commonly spoken.

Any chiropractor who wants to start his or her own business or buy a business will also need to know how to run a successful business of this nature. This includes knowing how to choose the right employees and train them in their duties, finding customers, taking out business insurance, filing business taxes and incorporation papers and much more.


In Summary

There are many options available to those who want to practice medicine and becoming a chiropractor is one of the many choices that a person may want to consider. Chiropractors help people who suffer from chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. They provide permanent relief by massaging the muscles back in place and giving advice to patients on how to avoid problems with these same muscles in the future.

The requirements for becoming a chiropractor are quite strict. A person will need to study for a general yet related associates or bachelor’s degree; this takes anywhere from two to four years, depending on which type of diploma a person opts to pursue. After getting a degree, a person will need to study for an additional four years at an accredited chiropractic school. Subsequently, one will need to get a license before being allowed to practice in any given state; this license is obtained by taking an exam given at the national level.

Once a person has completed his or her studies and gotten official licensing, then there are various job options to choose from. A chiropractor can start his or her own clinic, buy a practice, work with others in this same field or find employment at a hospital or private doctor’s practice. Teaching in this field at a college, university or chiropractic school is also an option for those who have gotten a Master’s degree along with their DC degree.

Studying for a chiropractic degree can be quite costly; in fact, many people end up paying over $100,000 for their studies. Thankfully, these high costs are offset by the fact that many students are able to obtain a scholarship, financial aid and/or low interest student loans. Furthermore, the average job salary for those employed in this field is quite high, as are employment prospects.


Is This Job Right for You?

Becoming a chiropractor is not the best option for everyone. However, it can be ideal for those who prefer self employment to conventional employment, can communicate well with people and know how to explain complex back and muscle problems in a simple, easy to understand manner.

However, more than anything else, a person who enters this profession will need to have a heart for people who suffer from chronic pain and a desire to help these people find lasting relief. It is this desire to help fellow human beings that will motivate an aspiring chiropractor to learn as much as possible about this field and personalize a treatment course so that it best suits the needs of the individual in question.

Chiropractors, like other medical professionals, must take their responsibilities seriously, knowing that people look up to them and expect them to maintain a high standard of ethical and professional behavior.

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