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How to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors are members of a growing alternative medicine community who focus their healing powers on correcting disorders of the skeleton and musculature. They manipulate the bones and joints of the body -- primarily the spine -- to alleviate systemic stress and treat or prevent disorders that may occur in the nervous, immune, endocrine or digestive systems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), career opportunities for chiropractors are advancing faster than average as the population of the U.S. grows older. Any of the following facilities might employ chiropractors to some degree:

  • Physicians' offices
  • Alternative medical offices
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care facilities
  • Dentists' offices

Here's a rundown of how to become a chiropractor, from the educational requirements to the basic skills that can help you thrive in the profession.

Chiropractic program requirements/prerequisites

Candidates for chiropractic training programs must complete at least 90 hours of college credit before applying. College credit courses in the natural sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics, tend to prepare applicants well for their chiropractic education and may be included among educational prerequisites by some institutions.

All chiropractors who wish to practice legally in the U.S. must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited institution. As of 2014, 15 schools were accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education to provide official chiropractic training. A grade point average of 2.75 or better is often required for admission to an accredited DC program, although exact GPA requirements vary from program to program.

In order to practice legally in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, chiropractors must also be licensed. Licensure requirements vary from state to state and can be obtained from your state's Board of Chiropractic.

Necessary skills and qualifications

Aside from meeting the educational requirements and earning a state license, chiropractors must also have a certain set of skills and abilities in order to offer care that meets the standards of the profession. The Occupational Information Network (ONET) indicates active listening and critical thinking are among the most important skills for an aspiring chiropractor, with social perceptiveness and complex problem solving not far behind.

Deductive and inductive reasoning abilities are also vital for success as a chiropractor, as well as the capacity to communicate effectively and clearly through both speech and writing. Accomplished chiropractors also have an aptitude for switching their perspective from the details of a situation to the big picture, and a sense of empathy can be invaluable when caring for people in pain.

Chiropractor working environment

Chiropractors typically work in clean, comfortable offices, whether in private practice or as adjunct practitioners of a larger organization. The BLS indicates that a vast majority of chiropractors work in alternative health offices, either solo or as part of a group practice, and physicians' offices employed more than 1,000 chiropractors in 2013.

BLS data indicates that employment opportunities for chiropractors are expected to increase 15 percent between 2012 and 2022, adding approximately 6,500 new jobs to the market. About 33 percent of chiropractors worked part-time hours in 2012, according to the BLS, and around 37 percent were self-employed.

Sources:

"Accredited Doctor of Chiropractic Programs/Institutions," The Council on Chiropractic Education, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.cce-usa.org/Accredited_Doctor_Chiro.html

"Admission Requirements - College of Chiropractic," Northwestern Health Sciences University, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.nwhealth.edu/admissions/requirements/chiropractic/

"Admissions Requirements," New York Chiropractic College, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.nycc.edu/Admissions_requirements.htm

"Chiropractic Education," American Chiropractic Association, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.acatoday.org/level3_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61&T3ID=151

"Chiropractors," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291011.htm

"Chiropractors," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Chiropractors.htm

"Chiropractors," Occupational Information Network, 2013, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1011.00

"Curriculum and Program Requirements - Chiropractic (D.C.)," University of Bridgeport, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.bridgeport.edu/academics/graduate/chiropractic-dc/curriculum-and-program-requirements/

"Education Requirements and Prerequisites," Palmer College of Chiropractic, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.palmer.edu/PreReqs/

Chiropractic Schools