How to Become a Chiropractor: Salary, Training & Job Description

Make no bones about it, joining the world of chiropractic medicine will be pretty cool and very interesting. If you’re interested in cracking, manipulating and massaging the joints and muscles of patients, great! You’ve lucked out big time today because we are going to drop the knowledge bomb on you today. Why? Well, because we are going to tell you how to become a chiropractor, that’s why!

How to Become a Chiropractor

How to Become a Chiropractor A career as a chiropractor may be just the thing for you if you are interested in the way the muscular and skeletal systems of the body work. Chiropractors are highly trained and highly skilled in knowing how to manipulate the body and perform therapies that can help a ton of issues that the human body is prone to experiencing. So, how exactly does one become a chiropractor? Now seems like a good time to find out!

College Bound

The first step to become a chiropractor is to earn a minimum of 90 college credits at an undergraduate level, which usually results in a bachelor’s degree. Many states actually require chiropractic students to earn a bachelor’s anyhow, so you might as well go for the gusto and get it done.

A major that in science is going to be your best bet here and you’ll want to load up on course work that is heavy in chemistry, biology and physics. These courses are super important to the study of the human body and also serve as prerequisites for your upcoming days in chiropractic college. You’ll be working with people on an up close and personal basis, so knocking out a few communication, sociology and personal relations classes may be a wise decision.

Off to Chiropractic College

Every chiropractor has to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from a college that is fully accredited in the field. There aren’t that many schools in the United States that offer this four year degree program, so be extra careful when selecting and enrolling in a school to ensure that you don’t attend one that isn’t legit.

It is during your days in chiropractic college that you will learn all of those bone cracking skills that will have your patients turn to jelly in your hands. A few of the courses that you will cover during this time are chiropractic philosophy and diagnosis, chiropractic techniques, diagnostic skills, chiropractic biophysics, spinal biomechanics and some of those awesome adjustment techniques that will serve you well later.

Get Your License

Every chiropractor is required to get a state license to practice their awesome chiropractic skills. In order to get your state license you will have to take a certification exam and it is possible that you may have to take some extra educational courses in order to take the exam if it required by your state. Most states will accept the three to four part exam that is offered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners as a means to get your hands on a license.

Select Your Specialty

You will have the option to choose which area of practice you would like to specialize in once you have your state license in hand. Some of the specialty areas that may be of interest to you are sports injuries, geriatrics and pediatrics. Once you’ve narrowed down your area of interest, go full gorilla and start you own practice. You can even drum up a nice patients base by joining in on community outreach programs that are in your area. These programs are designed to help the community awareness of chiropractic medicine grow and aid those in need of low cost medical treatment at shot at leading a well life.

Continuing Education

Most states require chiropractors to take continuing education courses and workshops that are geared to keeping chiropractors up-to-date on all of the most recent developments in chiropractic medicine. It is also common for chiropractors to take some extra courses in naturopathy, massage and various other forms of alternative medicine. This is a good idea actually and will expand your patient net a bit further and you will have more ways to help your patients in your arsenal.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

As a chiropractor, you will be the magic hands behind mending the health issues that your patients experience with their neuromusculoskeletal system…that means nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It will be your job to use spinal adjustments, manipulation and various other holistic approaches to helping your patients feel better.

So, what does a typical day for a chiropractor consist of? Let’s find out now!

  • Examine a patient and review their medical history with an in-depth discussion about their current health concerns
  • Examine a patient’s body, paying specific attention to the spine and reflexes. The posture of your patient will likely also need to be examined, especially is they are experiencing back pain
  • Perform tests that will aid in the evaluation of the patient’s current condition. An x-ray is common at some point during the initial evaluation and may be required at other stages of treatment to check for progress
  • Determine if the patients does indeed have any health issues that you are able to treat and come up with an appropriate treatment plan
  • Determine which neuromusculoskeletal therapy is ideal for each patient and adjust their spinal columns and hand joints as needed
  • Give patients helpful advice that will better their lifestyles. Some common areas that patients seem to need helpful guidance are exercise, nutrition and/or sleep habits
  • If your patient’s health care issues are beyond care of chiropractic medicine, you will then be required to refer patient out to the appropriate physicians for the job

Most chiropractors feel that poor health can be a cause of an out of whack neuromuscular system and that these misaligned joints can lead to an increased rate of diseases. In order to give patients relief from pain and other ailments, chiropractors will use massage therapy, rehabilitative exercises and extra means of providing extra support by way of back braces, leg/knee braces or possibly shoe inserts.

Where Can I Work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 37% of chiropractors go into practice for themselves. These chiropractors treat patients in an office setting that they have personally designed and tailor the care given to each patients based upon their personal chiropractic theory. Some hospitals and general physicians offices also employ chiropractors, but the actual number is rather small.

Special Qualities and Skills of a Chiropractor

Pretty much every profession is made easier when you have certain skills or qualities. The same can be said for those that are interested in joining in on the chiropractic medicine game. If you have the skills and qualities that we are going to cover, awesome! If you don’t have them, no worries, you have some time to work on them before you are tweaking the spinal columns of patients!

  • Decision Making Skills: It’s important to have decision making skills that are above average when you are a chiropractor. You will have to use these skills as a means to determining the best plan of care for your patients bases upon their current and past medical issues. There will also come a time when you are required to refer your patients to other physicians and knowing the appropriate time to do so will be a result of having solid decision making skills
  • Dexterity: The use of your hands is an essential part of being a chiropractor and in order to manipulate your patients, you will need to have a good amount of dexterity.
  • Empathy: Your bedside manner and ability to understand what your patients are dealing with is an important part of this job. It will make your patients more comfortable with your skills as a chiropractor and may even make them more inclined to follow the care directions that are given if they feel that you “get” where they are coming from
  • Interpersonal Skills: Working with patients and support staff each day will require a good amount of interpersonal skills. You want to keep your patients coming back for treatment while they need it and keep your employees happy. There is also the little detail of being in such close contact with patients while they are being adjusted. It would be a bit awkward if you were, well, a bit awkward.

Chiropractor Salary

Let’s see how many back and necks you will have to crack to earn your yearly salary!According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and as of May 2013, chiropractors are reported to earn $65,300 a year. Newer chiropractors may start off earning a salary of $30,980 a year and the earning potential keeps increasing as you gain more experience. It is reported that the more experienced chiropractors are reported to earn a yearly salary of $141,440.

The state and city you practice in as well as if you are the master and commander of your own practice, will more than likely have some bearing on the salary that you earn. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some really helpful graphs available on their website and they are certainly worthy of a look if you think you are headed towards a career in chiropractic medicine.

Chiropractor Salary

Interesting Facts About the Chiropractic Field

The chiropractic field is growing and changing all the time. With that growth and change, we are seeing an increase in acceptance of the use of chiropractors as a real means of aiding in many areas of health and wellness. There are also some interesting footnotes about the chiropractic profession and are going t tell you about them now!

Chiropractors Help Unlikely Patients

There have been recent studies in to wellness care and the positive impact that it may have on survivors of torture, severe physical trauma, long term chronic pain and even those with depression and PTSD. The Boston University School of Public Health has done studies on the use of chiropractic care and find that it may be effective.

There are Chiropractors Worldwide

Despite being the profession being founded in the United States, it has really grown in countries around the world. It is common to find chiropractors in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. The use of chiropractors has become so common in Australia that nearly 40% of the elderly population are in the care of one and a quarter of the countries adult population has been to a chiropractor for a consultation.

That White Paper Is Really Something

You know that super annoying white paper that is always on the table at your chiropractor’s office? Well, that crinkley white stuff is a veritable germ blocker and has proven to keep the rate of bacteria down significantly in chiropractic offices. Who knew that a little white sheet of paper could be such a barrier again grossness?

The Amish Dig Chiropractors Too

For the most part, the Amish community shy away from the vast majority of what they consider to be “English conveniences”, but seeking out the help of a chiropractor is not one of those things. It kind of makes sense though when you really think about it. The Amish are super hard workers and much of their lives revolve around being physically robust and taking care of their land and home without modern machinery. So, what we are essentially saying is, this can be back breaking work and who better to help than a chiropractor. The Northern Ohio University College of Medicine found this to be so interesting that they conducted a little study and found that 36% of Amish women use nutritional supplements, herbal therapies and chiropractic medicine. Interesting, huh?

Chiropractors Have the Magic Touch

It’s totally common for patients to go see a chiropractor and let out a satisfying moan of relief when the doc works out the kink in your neck or back. Chiropractors really know what they are doing and seem to have the magic touch and know how to hit all the right spots. When patients have a pinched nerve, pulled muscle or something misaligned, a chiropractor can swoop in and make it all better.

Ladies Are Totally Invited to the Chiropractic Game

Hey, Ladies! Don’t let the fact that you will be bending, shifting, lifting, pulling, pushing and twisting you patient in a million different directions deter you from pursuing a career as a chiropractor deter you if you are of the female persuasion! It doesn’t make what size, shape or gender you are – if you want to be a chiropractor, do it. It has been proven that there isn’t a difference in the abilities of female of male chiropractor, so get cracking.

Anyone Can Be a Chiropractor

Here is a little known fact: one of the most successful chiropractors in the history of the profession as blind. Dr. Charles Robinson Johnson was the first blind chiropractor to ever practice in the field and he was one of the top in the profession for over 25 years.

School & Degree Options

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Why Should I Become a Chiropractor?

You may be wondering if the chiropractic field is right for you and if you should take the plunge. Here are some helpful things that may help you make a decision one way or the other.

  • Fastest growing and second largest primary care profession: There are somewhere around 60,000 actively practicing chiropractors in the United States and well over 10,000 students studying to become chiropractors in the near future. That leads us to believe that the job outlook must be pretty good, but we’ll get into that in more detail later
  • Chiropractic services are in high demand: More and more patients are turning to more holistic means of curing their what ails them. So, the demand for chiropractic services is growing rapidly and is currently shooting up to patient number in the tens of millions
  • Intensive education that is similar to that completed by MD’s and DO’s: There aren’t any shortcuts or free passes on the road to becoming a chiropractor. There is extensive undergraduate and graduate level schooling that is required to receive a chiropractic degree. By the time you are finished with your education you will have a pretty solid knowledge of the human body and diagnostic methods
  • DC’s are primary care providers: If the Center for Studies in Health Policy have any say in the matter, Doctors of Chiropractic are the same thing as a regular primary care provider. They say, “The DC can provide all three levels of primary care interventions and therefore is a primary care provider, as are MD’s and DO’s.”
  • 50 States: Chiropractors are able to become licensed and recognized in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
  • Recognized by health care programs: Chiropractic care has gained recognition from Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Employees Health Care Benefits Programs, Federal Workers’ Compensation and all other state workers’ compensation programs. This wide net of recognition is very helpful in allowing chiropractors to serve more patients and expand their practices
  • Provide effective care at a low cost: As a chiropractor, you have the unique advantage to treat patients with a variety of ailments at an affordable costs. Patients with health issues from back pain to ear issues may be helped by your services for a fair price

Final Grade

We have now filled you in on the A,B,C’s of how to become a chiropractor and now we are going to give you our very own version of the A,B,C’s. We are going to give a letter grade to each important area that we think is worth considering when you are making a big career decision. Let’s get cracking!

Degree vs. Debt: B

It looks to us like the 7 to 8 years of schooling that is required to become a chiropractor is going to cost a pretty penny. Now, the medians annual salary is actually pretty good in this profession and it doesn’t seem like there is a shortage of patients to treat. No one likes to take out that many semesters worth of student loans and no one likes to have student loan debt. This may be the only option if you really want to work in chiropractic medicine and you aren’t rolling in the Benjamin’s. So, we say, go for it and pay them off in a timely fashion as your investment will most certainly pay off.

Difficulty of Degree: B-

Oh, boy! There is a pretty intensive amount of school and some hardcore classes that are required to complete both your bachelor’s and Doctor of Chiropractic degree. There is also the added pressure of having to know all of the ins and outs of the appropriate ways to manipulate the human body. You definitely don’t want to miss a beat in those classes because the chances of seriously hurting someone are way too high. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone gets nailed with a malpractice suit!

Happiness Quotient: A

From what we can tell, most chiropractors seem to really enjoy their work. Being able to help people that are in pain feel better is likely very rewarding. This is probably an even more enjoyable job when you are your own boss with your own practice. It does sound pretty nice when we think about it!

Job Outlook: B+

We are happy to report that the job outlook for those entering into chiropractic medicine is pretty solid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job growth is due to expand by roughly 15% between 2012 and 2022. This is a promising amount of growth and is a bit faster than other professions on the average. Thanks to the increasing amount of people that are seeking out the help of chiropractors to mend their aching bodies, chiropractic medicine is going to be around and kicking for a long time still.

Amazing Chiropractic Organizations

Optimal Health

Optimal Health (Straw Chiropractic Inc.) has five locations and an affiliated practice across Southern California. Optimal Health focuses on providing relief and helping patients to heal from the inside out. In addition to the practices, Optimal Health performs over 80 seminars per month in Southern California.

Tagliarini Chiropractic

Drs. Jessica and John Tagliarini have a chiropractic practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. Tagliarini Chiropractic prides itself on its friendly staff and no-wait policy, assisting patients as soon as they come in.

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Sources and Recommended Reading

The sources we use are just as important to us as the bones in our bodies and we’d be pretty hard pressed to give you all of the info that we did without them. We are in the mood to share today, so we’ve given you the links to take a look at for yourself!

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