How To Become a Chiropractor

How To Become a Chiropractor

If you have a passion for helping others and a desire to earn a degree in a field that focuses on the health and well-being of the body, becoming a chiropractor may be the right career choice for you. Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. They use manual adjustment and other techniques to manipulate the spine and other parts of the body to improve the function of the nervous system and promote overall health.

To become a chiropractor, there are several steps you’ll need to take. The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree, which will provide you with the foundational knowledge necessary for further education in chiropractic medicine. Once you have earned your degree, you will need to enroll in a chiropractic school, where you will complete a four-year program that includes both classroom studies and clinical practice. During your schooling, you will learn about the principles and procedures of chiropractic medicine, as well as gain hands-on experience working with patients.

After you have completed your chiropractic education, the next step is to obtain licensure. Licensure requirements vary by state, but typically involve passing a national board examination and meeting other criteria set by the state licensing board. Once you have obtained your license, you are ready to practice as a chiropractor. Many chiropractors choose to work in private practice, either on their own or as part of a larger clinic. Others may work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or even with professional sports teams.

One of the benefits of becoming a chiropractor is the flexibility it offers. You can choose to specialize in a particular area of chiropractic medicine, such as pediatrics or sports medicine, or you can provide general chiropractic care to patients of all ages. You can also choose to work part-time or full-time, depending on your personal preferences and the demands of your chosen market. Chiropractors often have busy schedules, with patients coming in for treatment throughout the day. However, many chiropractors also enjoy the freedom to set their own hours and create a work-life balance that suits them.

Education and Training

Education and training are essential steps in becoming a chiropractor. Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. Chiropractors use manual manipulation and other treatment techniques to improve the function of the spine and promote overall health.

To become a chiropractor, you need to be aware of the demanding nature of the profession. It requires a well-grounded background in science and a strong commitment to helping others. The first step in your journey to become a chiropractor is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. While there is no specific major required, degrees in biology, chemistry, or a related field can be beneficial.

Once you have obtained your bachelor’s degree, you can apply to a chiropractic program. There are a number of chiropractic schools across the United States that offer Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degrees. These programs typically take four years to complete and include both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience.

During your chiropractic education, you will learn how to perform a thorough examination of the spine and other joints, as well as how to develop and implement treatment plans. You will also study subjects like anatomy, physiology, pathology, and radiology. In addition to the core curriculum, you may have the opportunity to take elective courses in areas like pediatrics or sports chiropractic.

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After completing your chiropractic education, you will need to pass the licensing exam in the state where you plan to practice. Each state has its own requirements for licensure, so it’s important to research and understand the specific requirements for the state you are interested in.

Once you are licensed, you can start working as a chiropractor. Many chiropractors choose to join an existing practice or work in a group setting, while others prefer to start their own practice. Running a successful chiropractic practice requires not only clinical skills but also business acumen and the ability to effectively communicate with patients.

Continuing education is also important for chiropractors to stay up-to-date with the latest research and treatment techniques. There are a number of professional organizations and conferences that offer opportunities for ongoing learning and networking within the chiropractic community.

Licensing and Certification

Once you have completed your education and training, the next step in becoming a chiropractor is obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications. This is a crucial step in ensuring that you are qualified to practice as a professional chiropractor.

In order to become licensed, you will need to pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) examination. This examination is known for its rigorous standards and tests your knowledge and understanding of chiropractic procedures and techniques.

There are four parts to the NBCE examination, which cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnostic imaging, chiropractic principles and practices, and more. Each part of the examination needs to be passed in order to obtain your license.

It is important to note that licensing requirements may vary by state, so it is essential to research the specific requirements in the state where you wish to practice. Some states may also require additional examinations or certifications beyond the NBCE examination.

In addition to licensing, chiropractors can also seek certification in specific areas of practice, such as sports chiropractic or pediatric chiropractic. These certifications can further enhance your expertise and open up additional opportunities in your career.

Once you have obtained your license and any desired certifications, you will be ready to start practicing as a chiropractor. Many chiropractors choose to work in their own private practices, while others may join existing chiropractic offices or work in hospitals or other healthcare settings.

It is important to note that becoming a successful chiropractor requires more than just the technical skills learned through education and training. Building a strong network of professional contacts, continuing to further your studies, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are all key characteristics of a successful chiropractor.

Chiropractic associations, such as the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), offer resources and support for chiropractors at all stages of their careers. Joining these associations can provide you with valuable networking opportunities, access to continuing education programs, and the chance to learn from and collaborate with other chiropractic professionals.

Gaining Experience as a Chiropractor: Steps and Tips

1. Clinical Education and Training

To gain experience as a chiropractor, you need to complete a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program from an accredited institution. During your academic studies, you will learn about anatomy, physiology, chiropractic techniques, diagnostic procedures, and patient care. It is important to excel in your academic studies and fully understand the concepts and principles taught in your courses. This will provide you with a solid foundation for your future clinical practice.

2. Internships and Residencies

Internships and residencies offer valuable hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Many chiropractic programs require students to complete internships or clinical rotations as part of their degree requirements. These opportunities allow you to work directly with patients under the supervision of experienced chiropractors. During internships, you will have the chance to apply the techniques and skills you have learned in a real-world setting, gaining practical experience and improving your clinical skills.

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3. Volunteering and Shadowing

Volunteering and shadowing experienced chiropractors can provide you with additional opportunities to gain experience. Contact local chiropractic offices, hospitals, or clinics to inquire about volunteer or shadowing positions. By observing and assisting experienced chiropractors, you can learn from their expertise and gain insights into the day-to-day responsibilities of a chiropractor. This hands-on experience will enhance your understanding of the profession and help you develop essential skills.

4. Continuing Education

Continuing education is crucial for chiropractors to stay updated with the latest advancements in the field and expand their knowledge and skills. Attend seminars, workshops, and conferences related to chiropractic care to learn about new techniques, research findings, and treatment approaches. Continuing education not only helps you stay current in your practice but also demonstrates your commitment to professional growth and development.

5. Networking and Professional Organizations

Networking with other chiropractors and joining professional organizations can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations. Attend local and national chiropractic events to meet other professionals in the field. Joining professional organizations, such as the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) or the International Chiropractors Association (ICA), can provide you with access to resources, educational materials, and networking opportunities. These connections can lead to mentorship opportunities, job offers, and referrals from other chiropractors.

Gaining experience as a chiropractor is a continuous process that requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. By following these steps and tips, you can enhance your skills, expand your knowledge, and establish yourself as a successful chiropractor in the competitive healthcare market.

Building a Successful Practice

Building a successful chiropractic practice does not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and dedication to establish yourself as a trusted healthcare professional in the field. However, with the right knowledge and education, along with certain personal characteristics, you can create a thriving practice that meets the needs of your patients.

1. Develop a Personable and Professional Character

2. Understand the Science and Philosophy of Chiropractic Care

While chiropractic care is rooted in science, it also has its own unique philosophy. It is important to have a deep understanding of both aspects in order to provide the best possible treatments for your patients. This knowledge will allow you to tailor your approach to each individual’s needs and create personalized treatment plans.

3. Network and Be Aware of Others in the Field

4. Engage in Outreach and Educational Initiatives

Engaging in outreach and educational initiatives is a great way to promote your practice and educate the public about the benefits of chiropractic care. Consider participating in community events, giving presentations, or offering workshops to raise awareness and attract new patients. By showcasing your expertise and passion for chiropractic care, you can establish yourself as a trusted authority in the field.

5. Continuously Improve Your Skills and Knowledge

By following these tips and incorporating them into your practice, you can build a successful chiropractic career. Remember, it takes time and dedication, but with the right mindset and approach, you can make a positive impact on the health and well-being of your patients.

Financial Support

When considering a career as a chiropractor, it is important to understand the financial aspects involved. Becoming a chiropractor requires a significant investment of both time and money. However, there are various options available to help offset the costs and provide financial support.

One option for financial support is to seek additional funding through scholarships and grants. There are many organizations and institutions that offer financial assistance specifically for students pursuing a career in chiropractic. These scholarships and grants can help cover the costs of tuition, books, and other educational expenses.

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Another option is to explore loan programs and financial aid offered by chiropractic colleges and universities. These institutions often have financial aid offices that can provide information and assistance in securing loans or other forms of financial support. It is important to carefully research and compare the terms and conditions of different loan programs to ensure that they align with your financial goals and abilities.

Furthermore, chiropractors can also explore opportunities to work as associates or employees in established practices. This can provide a steady income while gaining valuable experience and building a professional network. Working in a large practice or group setting can also offer additional financial benefits such as shared overhead costs and access to a larger patient base.

Lastly, it is important for chiropractors to be proactive in managing their personal finances. This includes creating a budget, tracking expenses, and developing a plan for repaying any student loans or other debts. By being financially responsible and making informed decisions, chiropractors can better navigate the financial challenges that come with becoming a healthcare professional.

Scholarships and Grants for Aspiring Chiropractors

When considering a career as a chiropractor, it’s important to understand that the path to becoming a licensed professional requires a significant investment of time and money. Fortunately, there are various scholarships and grants available to help aspiring chiropractors pursue their educational goals and alleviate some of the financial burden.

One of the first steps in pursuing a career as a chiropractor is to look for scholarship programs specifically designed for chiropractic students. There are several national and local organizations that offer scholarships to support students who wish to become chiropractors. These scholarships can provide financial support to cover tuition fees, books, and other educational expenses.

Chiropractic schools themselves often have scholarship programs in place to help students with their educational expenses. These scholarships may be based on academic merit, financial need, or a combination of both. It’s important to research the scholarship opportunities offered by the chiropractic schools you are considering, as they may have specific requirements or application processes.

In addition to scholarships, there are also grants available for aspiring chiropractors. Grants are typically awarded based on financial need and do not need to be repaid. They can provide additional financial support to cover educational expenses and living costs while pursuing a chiropractic program.

When applying for scholarships and grants, it’s important to be aware of the application deadlines and requirements. Some scholarships may require essays, letters of recommendation, or proof of financial need. It’s essential to carefully read and follow the instructions provided by each scholarship or grant program to increase your chances of success.

Networking with professionals in the chiropractic field can also be beneficial when searching for scholarship and grant opportunities. These individuals may be aware of additional funding sources or be able to provide guidance on the application process.

It’s important to understand that becoming a chiropractor requires a significant commitment to education and training. However, with the support of scholarships and grants, the financial burden can be eased, making it more accessible for aspiring chiropractors to pursue their dream career.


What is chiropractic philosophy?

Chiropractic philosophy is a belief system that focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure, particularly the spine, and its function. It emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself and the importance of maintaining proper alignment and balance.

What are the steps to becoming a chiropractor?

The steps to becoming a chiropractor typically include obtaining a bachelor’s degree, completing a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) program, and obtaining a license to practice. Additional steps may include passing the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam and completing continuing education courses.

How long does it take to become a chiropractor?

The length of time it takes to become a chiropractor can vary, but it typically takes around 7-8 years. This includes 4 years of undergraduate study to obtain a bachelor’s degree, followed by 4 years of chiropractic school to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree.

What are the job prospects for chiropractors?

The job prospects for chiropractors are generally favorable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Chiropractors can work in private practice, group practices, hospitals, or other healthcare settings.

What skills are important for a chiropractor to have?

Some important skills for a chiropractor to have include strong communication skills, manual dexterity, critical thinking skills, and a compassionate and empathetic nature. Chiropractors must be able to effectively communicate with patients, perform manual adjustments, analyze x-rays and other diagnostic tests, and provide personalized care.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.