Chiropractic Degree Programs and Career Outlook

Founded as a profession in 1895, chiropractic is a relatively new medical art, though evidence of writings on its principles can be traced back to ancient Greece and China. Manipulation of the spine forms the basis of much of chiropractic work, but other methods of skeletal and muscular manipulation may also be used in treatments.

The treatment methods covered at chiropractor training schools teach students to analyze a patient's posture and reflexes, identify potential health problems, and adjust the musculoskeletal system in accordance with established therapeutic principles. Like most holistic medical practice, chiropractic can be used in attempts to treat a wide and diverse range of ailments, and the programs that impart these skills to you can take a variety of approaches to chiropractic education.

Chiropractic degree programs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) indicates that chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from a program accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). A total of 15 accredited Doctor of Chiropractic programs were available nationwide in 2014, according to the CCE. Chiropractors must also be licensed in the state where they wish to practice, and licensing requirements vary from state to state.

Not all states require that prospective chiropractors have earned a bachelor's degree, but most chiropractic degree programs do include educational requirements of at least three years of undergraduate university education. College coursework in biology, physics, anatomy, exercise science, physical therapy, finance, business law and nutrition are highly beneficial to future chiropractors and may be required by some programs.

Chiropractic training

Doctor of Chiropractic programs typically take four years to complete and include comprehensive training in anatomy, diagnosis, physiology, technique and other subjects. Here's a sampling of the course material that students in chiropractic training programs can expect to study in order to become a chiropractor:

  • Spinal anatomy
  • Neurophysiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical nutrition
  • Practice management
  • Health care marketing
  • Legal and regulatory issues
  • Clinical methods
  • Physiotherapy
  • Pathology
  • Immunology
  • Gender disorders
  • Biomechanics
  • Public health

In addition, here are a few of the chiropractic techniques that students may learn in their training:

  • Palpation
  • Toggle
  • Pelvic technique
  • Subluxation analysis
  • Thoracolumbar technique
  • Atlas orthogonal technique
  • SOT I and SOT II
  • Pettibon technique
  • Extremity adjusting
  • Lumbar distraction

Doctor of Chiropractic training programs typically include a clinical internship, as well, but the exact nature of that internship can vary from school to school. Check with your chosen institution for specific details on their program's course offerings and internship requirements.

Chiropractor career outlook

Employment of chiropractors is expected to increase 15 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to BLS data, leading to raw job gains of about 6,500 new positions. The overall aging of the population is cited as a primary driver of growth in the field, particularly because older adults are more likely to experience difficulties of the systems for which chiropractic treatment can be used.

The national mean annual salary for chiropractors nationwide was $78,410, according to the BLS. Offices of alternative health practice were the largest employers of chiropractors in 2013, with physicans' offices and general medical and surgical hospitals employing the second- and third-largest totals. Dentists' offices offered the highest chiropractor salary of any setting in 2013, with a national mean annual salary of $125,500.


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

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

"Chiropractors," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Chiropractors.htm

"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/

"Curriculum - D.C.," Palmer College of Chiropractic, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.palmer.edu/CurriculumDC/

Highlights of the Doctor of Chiropractic Program, D'Youville College, http://www.dyc.edu/academics/chiropractic/program_highlights.aspx

"History of Chiropractic Care," American Chiropractic Association, accessed July 1, 2014, http://www.acatoday.org/level3_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61&T3ID=149

Chiropractic Schools

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